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Five tips for successful strategic workforce planning

Faethm’s recent Solving the Skills Shift webinar on strategic workforce planning brought together five strategic workforce planning experts, David Burrows, Ranjit de Sousa, Linda Nyman, Alise Rupeka and Tim Peffers, for an insightful conversation about the definitive role of workforce planning in an organisation’s success.

Many organisations today are facing increasing workforce disruption, as skills gaps grow and as past workforce planning tactics prove less effective in an increasingly digitalised workplace. HR and L&D leaders need clear, comprehensive data to confidently identify future critical skills and address existing skills shortages.

During the webinar discussion, Founder of consultancy The Coalyard, Ranjit de Sousa, highlighted the workforce planning challenges facing organisations today, saying, "Any large organisation across geographies and across industries are facing one big challenge: 30 to 40 per cent of the workforce does not or will not necessarily have the right skillset that they need to be successful in the market and their strategy.

"In order to solve that, what companies have been using over the past decade - layoffs and then recruiting in the market - just aren't going to work. They are not going to work, as you cannot lay off at that scale. It's not financially feasible, it's not socially responsible and even if you would be able to do so, you wouldn't be able to find the right skills in the right numbers out there in the market, so the only way to actually solve the issue is to really understand where skills are in the organisation, where the gaps are that you are going to be facing and how to solve those gaps through redeployment, through reskilling. So, effectively strategic workforce planning."

Strategic workforce planning might just be the solution to the evolution of work.


How strategic workforce planning can help you prepare your people for the future of work

The Solving the Skills Shift panel discussed a wide range of solutions to key workforce planning challenges today, including how to implement data-led decision-making in skills development programs, identify what and who to include in your plan, and engage your employees on a journey to more sustainable employability.

1. Start small-scale

Identify projects which align closely with company strategy and where you can make an impact. Try not to fixate on resources you don't have. For example, you may not think you have all the data but artificial intelligence is able to extrapolate a lot of information from the most basic of workforce data at a relatively low cost, such as associated skills and tasks. Once you have shown value, it is easier to get buy-in, obtain resources and expand your program.

2. Establish a multi-functional team

Strategic workforce planning should tie in with the broader business agenda, so build a team of stakeholders and influencers who support your goals. This can be made up of business unit leaders, finance, IT and more. After all, you will need the inside track on how your organisation is currently functioning, the impacts of the company’s digitalisation agenda on your future staffing needs, the cost implications and trusted leaders who can inspire and guide employees throughout the transition.

3. Embrace technology solutions

Pre-build job taxonomies, data on how skills demands are expected to change, and modelling impacts of technology adoption on your workforce are examples of technology solutions that will add a huge amount of value to your workforce planning. Accelerating time to value is a good investment - the pace of change is fast and this enables you to direct more time and resources towards driving actual results.

4. Plan ahead of time

Being proactive and making plans well in advance will open up options to maximise the opportunities strategic workforce planning can deliver for your organisation. Reskilling and redeploying workers makes for a sustainable, adaptable and committed workforce. It is also usually more cost-effective than a fire/hire cycle, but it requires time. You need to identify the appropriate workers and transition paths, then recruit internally for willing participants. Employees have their own agendas. It’s difficult to hasten acceptance, willingness to change and the transitions into new roles. Giving employees time to digest their options and buy into your program pays dividends. Investing in tools to fast-track the decision-making process means that you can progress to focusing on meeting your people’s needs during your program implementation.

5. Engage and empower your people

Workforce change shouldn't be a secret. Organisations are often hesitant to unsettle employees, but by being honest and clear ahead of time, you inspire trust and gain the opportunity to guide them through the changes. By giving people access to the information and tools they need to shape their future, you are supporting their employability as well as progressing towards a capable and prepared future at your organisation.


Achieve your workforce planning goals with Faethm

Faethm’s predictive, AI-powered insights on the future impacts of technology on work can underpin any organisation's strategic workforce planning. Many organisations are struggling to know how to build a modern strategic workforce planning program. At Faethm, we speak to clients at renowned international businesses everyday with varying workforce challenges to answer. If you’d like to learn how Faethm can support your transition to the future of work and support your workforce planning journey, contact us today.


Learn more

Six Steps to Effective Workforce Planning

Faethm’s Six Steps to Effective Workforce Planning playbooks are designed to guide you through each stage of the workforce planning process. ​Each playbook highlights when to use the Faethm analytics platform for predictive, data-led insights to inform your long-term strategic workforce planning. ​ The series includes seven playbooks, which are provided incrementally as you complete each stage.

  • The Faethm Approach ​
  • Step 1: Mobilise ​

  • Step 2: The Internal Environmental Scan ​

  • Step 3: Supply and Demand ​

  • Step 4: Gap Analysis ​

  • Step 5: Strategy Development ​

  • Step 6: Implementation​


Explore our blog

Coming soon is a new series on strategic workforce planning at our Insights blog.


Watch the webinar

Watch the Solving the Skills Shift webinar online.


Skills white paper

Among the most pressing concerns raised by the Solving the Skills Shift webinar attendees were shown how to accurately identify the critical future skills their workforces need.

To address these concerns, Faethm is currently developing a white paper about skills, with actionable, data-driven insights relevant to every industry and organisation. To register your interest in receiving this white paper, please email for a copy hot of the press or follow our LinkedIn for all of our latest news.