Workforce transformation is the powerhouse of business resilience 

HR must transform workforce planning models and people practices to meet future organisational strategies.

The last five years have seen far-reaching change in people practices, organisational structures and the financial models that drive businesses of all sizes and sectors.

Covid-19, geopolitical instability, shifts in consumer behaviour and digitisation are just some of the factors that are driving change and will continue to do so for the future.

To thrive for the long term as an agile, resilient organisation, businesses are having to rethink every aspect of how they operate.

That ranges from their company purpose and corporate objectives, through to transforming the way that they attract, retain and develop their people.

Workforce transformation requires root and branch review of every aspect of employment, from where people work and the types of job that they do, to identifying future skills needs.

To succeed for the future means creating a resilient workforce and rethinking the employee value proposition in a hugely competitive talent market.

5 principles of workforce transformation

Transforming the way that people work can seem like a daunting proposition, particularly when employees and HR must continue business-as-usual alongside radical change.

It can help to think about transformation around five key principles:

  1. Alignment with corporate values
    HR strategies need to align with organisational goals to achieve business aims. As corporate values and purpose evolve, the workforce must keep pace, and where relevant drive those changes.
  2. Employee power
    The social and economic factors behind business change have also given employees more power to determine where they want to work, and how. Flexible working practices that were a necessity in the pandemic must now be reshaped into ongoing people strategies that form part of everyday working lives and job design.
  3. Future skills needs
    As businesses reposition themselves and introduce new products or services, the skills they need will change too. Understanding future skills needs, as well as planning to recruit, or develop those skills within the current workforce, is vital to strategic workforce planning.
  4. Engagement in a changing workplace
    Change brings opportunity, but it can also be unsettling for employees who may worry that their expertise is no longer valid, or be uncertain about how their role might change. Keeping people engaged and informed, involving them wherever possible, and providing consistent, authentic messaging is essential to develop and maintain engagement.
  5. Employee wellbeing
    The pace of change combined with personal and professional pressures through Covid has put employees’ wellbeing under strain. That creates risks both for individuals and the organisation as a whole. Building a culture of looking after people and genuinely caring for their wellbeing helps them to thrive for the long term.

The strategic workforce planning action plan

The war for talent is intensifying.

HR teams of every size and in every industry sector need to act on the principles of workforce transformation today.

Resilient, agile people strategies mean businesses can future-proof themselves in changing markets and achieve growth through planned, long-term trends and short-term turmoil.

Use the power of data, understand your employees and maintain board-level influence to deliver authentic workforce transformation.

  • Look through employees’ eyes

    Explore workplace experiences, such as talent processes, from an employee perspective, as well as from an operational HR perspective.

    • How do employees seek and understand opportunity in your organisation?
    • How easy is it for prospective employees to discover your company culture?
    • How authentic is that culture?
  • Re-evaluate the employee value proposition (EVP)

    EVPs have traditionally been one-size-fits-all, but as the workforce becomes more diverse, EVPs must recognise the different personas in the workplace, their priorities and needs, even to the extent where EVPs become personalised. Key questions include:

    • What do employees want in terms of career development?
    • What skills do they want to develop?
    • How should that learning be delivered?
    • What cultures and behaviours do they expect in the workplace?
    • How can employee wellbeing be effective?
    • Which employee benefits suit their individual needs?
  • Create a culture of reskilling

    While organisations may need to recruit for some of the new skills they will require to reshape the business, part of workforce transformation is ensuring that the existing workforce has the training opportunities, mindset and pathways to reskill and upskill.

    • What skills do you need for the future?
    • How will you create an agile, flexible organisation that can respond quickly to market changes?
    • How can you create a culture where reskilling is the norm?
  • Become data-driven

    As HR further establishes itself as a board-level discipline, data will become a driving force for future strategy.

    • What data does HR need to be able to shape future business strategy?
    • What skills and tools does the HR function need to analyse that data?
    • Can that information be used to tell compelling stories to the rest of the business?
  • Prepare HR for the future

    To maintain the momentum of workforce transformation requires a refreshed, renewed and re-energised HR function.

    • What are the future skills needs of HR and how will these be delivered?
    • How can HR create and maintain board-level influence?
    • What does the future structure of the HR function look like, and how will this support business needs?

Six in 10 employers are anticipating change to their employment models to incorporate more flexible employment contracts

(Source: Mercer Global Talent Trends)

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