HR Magazine: Overcoming barriers to strategic workforce planning

Sue Brooks, Cielo’s Chief Innovation Officer, was published on HR Magazine online arguing the importance of strategic workforce planning (SWP). In this article, Brooks outlines several barriers that organizations face in attempting to strategically plan for current and future workforce needs. Even though Human Resources teams face ever-increasing workloads, this article stresses the importance of implementing a strategic workforce plan in 2015.

Excerpts from the article:

There are currently few clear cut examples of organisations implementing truly impactful SWP. According to a survey by Hay Group, just 34% of organisations believe that HR is making a significant contribution to the business. However, an ever-increasing body of evidence proves that effective people management has a direct impact on core organisational outcomes, such as productivity and profitability.

It’s important to point out that strategic workforce planning lays the groundwork for organisations to really maximise the ROI of people, while also creating a flexible talent plan that enables them to respond swiftly to the changing economy.

Creating a roadmap to success

As with any truly successful people plan, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. When done well, SWP will be tailored by industry, company and even business unit. However, there is a framework that can be used as a foundation:

Create a vision: It’s impossible to create a relevant, strategic, workforce plan that meets the needs of the organisation without a clear and consistent vision as to what success looks like. HR professionals need to drive the creation of this before any progress can be made.

Engage stakeholders: Given that SWP needs to be aligned with business plans, stakeholders across the company need to be included in the decision-making process, and brought in as champions. Highly tailored communications that demonstrate the connection between SWP and bottom line figures need to be initiated with key functions, including finance, support and management teams.

Start simple: SWP does not require complex systems or calculations, but it does need deliberate scenario planning. Identify key roles that need to be built into the plan and consistently gather intelligence on any shifts in the marketplace, workforce or business strategy that could impact relevant talent pools.


For the complete roadmap to creating a successful strategic workforce plan, visit: