Taking an Agile Approach to Workforce Planning

Times are changing! By adopting an agile approach to talent management your organization will be best positioned to thrive throughout times of transformation.

Three engineers consulting on a project

In today’s ever-changing world of work, organisations are increasingly looking for more agile ways of operating. In project management terms, agile is defined as “the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans”. This approach can be – and arguably, needs to be - applied to workforce planning too.
With economic and political turbulence across the globe causing ongoing uncertainty for many organisations, lean and agile business strategies look at new ways of identifying talent to fill critical skills gaps, negating the need to spend on the recruitment of additional full time employees.
Through an agile and targeted approach to workforce planning, organisations can reduce costs and increase productivity. Here are five ways you can take an agile approach to workforce planning:
1. Ensure you have the right staff in the right roles 
Research has shown that up to 1 in 5 individuals are in the wrong job. How can you expect your employees – and consequently your organisation- to perform to their optimum strength if their skills and experience aren’t being used to maximum effect? Career development is one of the top drivers of employee engagement, retention, and productivity; and in the Human Age, organisations win when individuals succeed. A ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey showed that companies that focus on career and development gain on average 29% higher revenue than companies that don’t. Ask yourself: does your organisation have a culture that enables employees to progress their careers and contribute value in alternative ways?
2. Identify high potentials and promote from within
Moving on from the above, identifying specific individuals to nurture and develop into leadership roles is key for organisations who want to be agile. Removing recruitment fees and concerns about employee fit, internal recruitment via a high potential development programme means that the individual has already proved their worth and can immediately get stuck into the role, reducing time-to-value. Take a look at the individuals in your organisation and identify those who have the drive and aspiration to move into a higher level role, who have the ability to adapt to internal and external change, and who have consistently high performance. Then consider implementing a formal or informal development programme to help boost your talent pipeline for the future. 
3. Ensure you have a succession plan in place
When it comes to leadership succession, failing to plan ahead can cause a state of uncertainty when change does occur, with a potentially severe impact on business performance. Succession planning too often happens after an individual has handed in their notice, and the organisation may be forced to settle for a less than ideal situation, at least temporarily. By planning ahead and vetting potential employees who could move into key leadership roles, a state of flux can be avoided and the organisation is able to move forward with minimal disruption. 
4. Support relevant staff into retirement
A key concern for many businesses is the need for active retirement action planning in order to manage workforce levels and maintain productivity. With today’s aging workforce, this issue is not going away – so how can you support staff into retirement? By implementing an internal career management programme, you can encourage employees to take an active role in managing their own careers and identifying next steps, whether vertically or horizontally within the organisation or outside of it, into retirement or further education.
Specific retirement focused workshops can also help individuals review and establish what retirement means for them, focussing on both personal and practical implications. Additionally, for colleagues in senior roles, consider providing up-skilling: providing them with the tools and techniques needed to ensure they are able to coach or mentor their successors as part of a planned retirement approach. This can add real value in terms of transferring key knowledge, information and skills back into the organisation before an individual leaves.
5. Increase employee engagement
How can you reduce attrition and increase staff productivity? The solution is simple – by talking to your employees. 82% of today’s employees would be more engaged in their work if managers conducted meaningful Career Conversations with them on a regular basis. These conversations shouldn’t replace the annual appraisal but should be part of a regular two-way dialogue between manager employee, focussed on expectations, current performance and future opportunities for development. Through the implementation of an effective career management strategy, ensuring that individuals are motivated about their careers, you’ll create a more engaged workforce and a more profitable business.
Times are changing and business leaders cannot be certain about what may be around the corner, however through adopting an agile approach, organisations can ensure that their workforce is in the best possible state to help them adapt and succeed in the future world of work.
More Talent Management Strategies From Our Experts:
Zebras Don’t Change Their Stripes. Neither Do Candidates.
Identifying the Revolution Skills and Skills Revolutionaries
How Leaders Can Be Led Astray in High-Potential Selection