Avoid Workforce Restructuring with Three Key Strategies from HR Leaders

Workforce restructuring costs companies billions of dollars each year due to lack of planning for the future talent needs. With the right techniques, Human Resource leaders can offer CEOs three ways to avert these wrenching changes and better meet workforce needs.

In a recent article titled “The top concerns of world’s most audacious visionary CEOs,” CNBC stated, “it’s no surprise that hiring qualified talent is the greatest challenge facing Disruptor 50 founders and CEOs.”

Workforce Restructuring - CEO desires to hire qualified talent

CNBC 2017 survey shows hiring qualified talent is the CEO’s top challenge to avoid workforce restructuring.

In the 19th annual CEO survey by PWC, 72% of respondents stated that they are concerned about the availability of critical skills needed to meet future business goals.

To avoid workforce restructuring costs and efforts, strategic HR leaders implement actionable strategies with measured outcomes that assure gradual, planned change rather than sudden reorganization.

The key to these strategies is to understand the competencies of the current employees, project the company’s skill requirements into the future, then hire, engage and develop the talent pool to get there based on those skills.

Here are three key outputs HR leaders provide to the CEO and senior leadership to support this strategy.

  1. Build an actionable roadmap to the future.

Forward thinking HR Leaders are creating visual representations of the company’s workforce skills needed to support future business plans.  The skills visual – or the company’s ‘skills genome’ – is the roadmap to a company’s future workforce; visualizing it helps communicate the complexity, the strengths, and the gaps within the framework.   By building the work at the skills level, CHROs who create a genome know that all application programmers are not the same.  Thus, they understand that an application programmer has over 800 skills from which to gain experience, and they need to identify the 25 skills that the business requires.

Once created, analysis can be done on the current workforce using the skills genome, seeing where the gaps exist so plans can be put in place to mitigate risks associated with not having the right talent pool.  (Note: The Senior Director of People Planning, Analytics, and Tools at CISCO will be presenting the company’s approach to talent development and workforce strategy implementation that includes this type of planning and how it affects employee engagement at the 2017 HR Tech Conference.)

  1. Identify strategies that enable the organization to find and develop talent that supports the roadmap.

Now that you have the roadmap, where can you locate the talent?  Internally, where are the employees who have a good foundation of skills that meet future needs?  Viewing the same job or job family does not always provide the exact mix of competencies for the future needs.  Instead, investigating adjacent job families that have most of the skills required allows HR leaders to look for feeder jobs and promotion opportunities for employees that can grow with the company direction.  Employee training plans can be created by Learning & Development teams to fill in the gaps.   In addition, CHROs know to communicate this information to the employees, providing the staff ways to engage in the process and understand their career path within the company.

When gaps are significant, external sourcing strategies must rely on analyzing talent pools to target areas most likely to have what’s needed.  Target areas identify where the workforce skills exist – by geography, by industry, by salary range, by time to fill, by business hiring practices, etc.  To minimize workforce restructuring, companies must continually perform this analysis and hire over time at the tactical level.  For example, the business unit manager and the talent acquisition resource for every job opening should work together to develop clear job descriptions that focus on the skills needed now and in the future.  As the company identifies candidates, they can interview the applicants knowing which skills are easily related to others so that the candidate, if hired, can evolve with the future needs of the organization.

  1. Track the competitors by region that are hiring the talent you need.

Businesses who hire the same talent you need are not always the same companies who sell to the customers you have.  In the recent study about Manufacturing,  Burning Glass Technologies published that software jobs now outpace production workers in job postings, a sure sign that the traditional programming leaders should know where their actual competition is for talent.

Microsoft, for example, is the leading job posting company in the Seattle area for Software Programmers over the last 12 months, according to data represented in Labor Insight, an educational curriculum development analysis product developed by Burning Glass.  Boeing is second.  Third in line for computer programmers are several businesses that are in or supported by the aerospace industry – AIM Aerospace, Greenpoint Technologies, Precision Castparts, Torque Technologies, etc.  But non-traditional programming companies like Campbell Soups and Consolidated Container Company have posted in the Seattle area for programmers, as well.

Strategic HR Leaders look to evidence-based workforce planning to drive talent acquisition.  The bridge between the strategy and execution lies in the discovery, understanding, and acquisition of the skills needed to develop a talent pool that executes the company’s business plan.   Organizations can avoid workforce restructuring costs and distractions by planning today for the skills required tomorrow.

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