LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
What does a plane, a baby boom, and an outbreak have to do with workforce planning? A LOT! The concept of strategic workforce planning is far more complex than annual headcount planning or succession planning. Strategic workforce planning focuses on a three to five-year timeline and considers capacity and capability. Strategic workforce planning focuses on future roles rather than individuals. It takes into account the organization’s long-term outlook in addition to the local/global economy and significant population shifts.
Case Study: Mark Allen Ph.D., a member of the Human Capital Institute Faculty, recounted an example of a healthcare organization seeking to double its revenue within 5 years, which in turn would require an increase of nursing staff from 100 to 200. When Allen accounted for the organization’s 34% turnover, he suggested they would need to hire 337 RNs (not 100) to meet the revenue goal. ~Nine To Thrive HR Podcast: Strategic Workforce Planning: An Introduction
Ok, so attrition affects strategic workforce planning, what else? What about changes in the US labor market like a fifty-year low in unemployment or the aging out of the Baby Boomers? In her Marketplace Podcast Three Ways 3M’s Results Reflect the Broader Economy, Marielle Segarra identifies three significant economic factors that forced 3M to cut 1,500 jobs. First, a global manufacturing slowdown; second, the discontinued production of Boeing’s 737 Max planes (since 3M supplies Boeing with airplane parts); and third, the coronavirus outbreak will actually increase demand for 3M’s protective face masks.
Of course, attracting the best employees is important, as is commitment to ongoing talent development. The Society for Human Resource Management’s book titled Retaining Talent: A Guide to Analyzing and Managing Employee Turnover (PDF) is an incredible online resource and offers research and support many strategies for retaining talent:
- Leverage Socialization: Utilize experienced insiders as role models, mentors, or trainers. When possible, initiate new employees in groups. Formal and informal experiences increase engagement of new employees (when their decision to stay is most tentative).
- Beat Golden Hellos: In today’s tight labor market, Golden Hellos (or incentives luring employees away from competitors) now rival retention bonuses known as the Golden Handcuffs. Regardless of your compensation structure, the process and outcome must be perceived as fair.
- Lead Well: In his book First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Marcus Buckingham reminds us that “People leave managers, not companies.” Developing leaders through training, coaching, and mentoring is also key to reducing turnover.
We can minimize the potential impacts of a plane, a baby boom, and an outbreak through socialization, fair compensation, and sound leadership– and it is worth the effort. Forbes estimates the “cost of an entry-level position turning over at 50 percent of salary; mid-level at 125 percent of salary; and senior executive over 200 percent of salary.” Strategic workforce planning must account for the organizations long-term outlook, in addition to the local/global economy and significant population shifts.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting Christians in leadership around the globe for the purpose of Community, Accountability, and Transformation. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.
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