Workforce Planning – If you aren’t doing it now – This Blog Article will convince you


{Preface: As you read the below, I encourage you to click through on the links to read the original sources – as they are being pulled from very credible sources and studies that will help to understate the seriousness of the issue.}


For the first time in US history, over 30% of Americans have a Bachelors Degree.
In a 17 year period, we went from 27 to 44 million Graduates in the workforce.
The percentage of 18-24 year olds who are enrolled in college has risen from 35 to 41%
Enrollment #’s have increase 78% since 1985
60% of families are saving to send their kids to college

This seems like absolute great news – right? The American dream is happening! Actually, not really – as  the numbers don’t paint the complete story.

In terms of Graduate Population – We are falling behind other countries. We dropped from 12th to 16th.

We won’t have enough college graduates – Projections are that in 2018, 45% of jobs will require a Bachelors Degree.

For those graduating from High School or College, less than 2/3 actually have the skills to move into a manufacturing position that would be commiserate with their level of education.

We don’t have enough Skilled Labor – In today’s recession, currently there are 600,000 skilled labor jobs sitting open in the US, because the labor is not there.

The above seems like a bit of a no win situation – we are not producing enough graduates, the ones we are producing are not skilled enough, and those who don’t graduate – don’t have the skills necessary to take non-baccelaureate jobs.

So how is HR doing in the midst of this? 

Did you know that 40% of Companies don’t have a workforce plan? That number may surprise you – as that means 60% of companies do? You may have the same reaction I did – which is to say – Nope.

Then I found this study – which seems to be more on point – which said HR professionals said only 21% of their leaders use Workforce Planning.

The elephant in the Room – Who is doing the Planning for our Future Workforce?
I am not asking you to raise your hands and answer – but if you are not doing long term workforce planning (e.g. I am going to need 75 electricians and 125 Biologists in 5 years) then who is helping schools figure out what they need to train and develop talent for?

Social Media is not the Solve!
I have heard and read many articles that seem to paint the picture that all aspects of the future workforce shortage will be solved if you are recruiting using Twitter and Weibo. While I say that somewhat tongue in cheek – it is important to understand full that the future war for talent will likely use every aspect of your HR organization.

True Workforce Planning will lead to well informed HR strategies across the HR Functions:
By doing strategic workforce planning, you are going to find that you have a number of future gaps. These Gaps are often going to require a variety of solves – and likely all of them based on the roles and geography.

1. Targeted Training – you may find that you are going to have a retirement issue among senior employees – in which case – your solution will be not to hire replacements – but to make sure you are training the right employees today so they will be ready.

2. Targeted Sourcing and Staffing – You may find that you need more Mining Engineers, and as a result, you have 5 years to make sure you have built amazing relationships with the top three colleges in the nation or world that produce mining graduates (Like Colorado and Texas)

3. Targeted Compensation Plans – you will likely identify pockets of roles that you cannot afford to lose due to normal retirement ages. As a result, you will need to develop Long Term Incentive Programs that target those issues.

4. Targeted Partnerships – you may also find that you need 2,000 plumbers in a certain geography that in five years will only have 1,200 plumbers. Given the salary range, it won’t make sense to try and relocate 800 plumbers – so what do you do? Work with the local school systems to develop programs that grow 800 plumbers.

Strategic Workforce Planning is not done overnight:

First Problem – Access to the Strategic Plan? 
Again, not asking for you to raise your hands, but how informed is the HR function about the company’s Strategic Plan? And I mean the real Strategic Plan – the one that talks specifically about market growth, product development and acquisition strategies. If the answer is that you are not sure – then how accurate is your workforce plan? If you are wondering how big of a problem this is – just remind yourself how many HR articles have been written about wanting to have a “seat at the table.”

Second Problem – Can’t do it all at once – Pivotal Roles!
It would be overwhelming to do in depth five year planning for every role in a company. Not only would this be a tremendous time exercise, but also one of diminishing returns. You need to pick the right roles which are key for your strategies. These roles are also called pivotal roles. There is a great book called BeyondHR which gives a great overview of how to do this.

Third Problem – In House Talent? 
Do you currently have a workforce planning function and a HR leader running it? If you don’t, the below may assist in looking for that role.

Strategic Workforce Planning – Explanation and Sample Job Description(s) by Towers Perrin


This can be done!

But here is the blessing – this problem can be solved. We have the systems, the data, the HR practices, and the HR professionals. The challenge for HR is – do we have the discipline?

I welcome your thoughts and comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *