Digitizing strategic workforce planning

By way of embedding descriptive and predictive analytics, infused with experience, judgement and foresight in the very foundational human capital process of workforce planning, the HR Manager can create the ability to build talent for solving problems.

In the digital world of today, the C-Suite has real time access to an astonishing array of precise data. The expectation of “right” talent decisions from employees and leaders is tremendous. The additional complexities of five generational workforce, evolving employee needs and the expectations of customized employee value proposition have become par for the course. The HR manager must provide the C-Suite with the tools, analytics, and capabilities to gauge, plan and meet future skill requirements.

How does the HR manager create the ability to build talent for solving problems when organizations are ignorant of the fact that they shall arise? How do they achieve this by also including “ happiness & doing social good” as an integral part of the employee value proposition?

The answer is embedding descriptive and predictive analytics, infused with experience, judgement and foresight in the very foundational human capital process of workforce planning.

Here are 3 simple, effective and very practical steps that organizations have taken recently to start this journey:

  1. Improving talent forecasting through data-driven decision making: Workforce planning studies frequently show a critical mismatch between the supply and demand of talent. While most organizations get the numbers right, using skill inventory to drive workforce planning is the real clincher. By accurately forecasting attrition rates and analysing future “skill” needs, organizations can determine the number and type of people required to achieve their business objectives. Available tools to inventory organization skills allow the leaders to infuse data based decisions on people with their instinct and gut

Case in Point: A large government agency analysed its employee utilization against current staffing levels and targeted process improvements- these programs produced savings of $2 million a year (4 percent of their budget), which it could apply toward building new capabilities.

2. Leveraging analytics to optimize workforce: Both descriptive (historic) and predictive (future) analytics will reveal workforce issues and needs, enabling management to make data-backed informed recommendations on how to optimize the workforce. Infusing predictive data analytics from business forecasts into forecasts of skill and the nature of workforce systematically and intelligently creates employee and customer satisfaction.

Case in Point: One of the largest utility companies in the world relied on an external (contractual) workforce to augment internal labour. As a result, payments to third parties formed a significant portion of total labour costs. By developing an analytics-led Workforce Management Application, they were able to optimize the workforce ratio (in-house versus contractors) to reduce cost without undermining customer satisfaction and labour productivity. They were able to accurately forecast the optimal number of crews needed in the field on a daily basis, reducing operational costs and minimizing customer inconvenience.

3. Building real-time workforce solutions for a consistent experience: Digitizing workforce planning provides organizations the ability to cascade leading practices consistently & quickly across the organization. Real time talent planning provides visibility for C-Suite and the employees alike. The career path decisions, promotion recommendations, providing horizontal movement options for the entire talent pool unleash talent potential in an instant and builds a positive momentum for change. Case in Point: A large global FMCG firm — well known for recruiting high-performers and rigorous processes to retain and develop them, decided to raise the bar using digital technology. The company developed and instituted ‘Workforce by Design’ application that enabled automation of headcount planning and comparisons with the actual data in real time.

Leading organizations believe that the war for talent just got digitized. They are following a strategic, data-driven analytics based approach that aligns the workforce skills with the organization’s strategic objectives. Organizations can effectively and unceasingly meet dynamic business needs, boost workforce efficiency and most importantly increase happiness in the office. The employees have visibility to the next moves and the leadership too makes informed data-driven decisions.



Partner and Lead-Talent & Organization Accenture India.

Jayesh Pandey leads the Talent and Organization practice in India for Accenture Management Consulting. He has over 15 years of consulting experience including business strategy, operating models, leadership development, talent management, culture transformations & operational excellence. He holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

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