Workforce Planning

Recovery Playbook for Impact Employers | Agile forecasting and planning for equitable career pathways

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Why It Matters

The COVID-19 pandemic and related crises forced many companies to abandon their workforce plans and pivot to forecasting their near-term talent needs. Impact Employers emphasize rapid agility around talent planning. As automation and other forces accelerate the evolution of work, businesses must be ready to redeploy people within the company on short notice.

In addition, companies must consider the risks of having people physically on the job and be ready to digitize operations at a moment’s notice. This has implications not only for the operations of a business but the required skills of the people who power it. As companies begin to navigate recovery, they must begin to study the impact of digital transformation and plan how to prepare their workforces for those changes.

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New Challenges During Recovery

Workforce planning within a dynamic and unpredictable labor market is bound to be challenging. Many corporate leaders are grappling with reduced budgets because the economic fallout of COVID-19 has diminished their bottom lines. But even those whose bottom lines have remained constant or improved have struggled with the unpredictability of increased variable expenses related to the acquisition, training, and advancement of employees. At the same time, anticipated future workforce trends have been accelerated by the impact of COVID-19. As automation is hastened and more and more work is becoming digitized, leaders are being forced to execute on previously long-term-oriented plans for internal and external talent pipelines, reskilling, and job redesign in the short term. This has precipitated the need for rapid strategic reorganizations and, in some cases, redeployments of employees across functions and/or layoffs.

Additionally, the heightened collective awareness of racial injustice and inequity has ignited deep reflection and a sense of responsibility in corporate America. Leaders feel compelled to prioritize diversity commitments to ensure that workforce plans are inclusive and humanistic and account for the varied personal and professional needs of current and prospective employees.

How to Do It Well

Emerging Practices for an Equitable Recovery

  • Recognize the value of your existing employees. Build an internal marketplace geared toward employee advancement that harnesses the investments you have already made in vetting and developing your employees.
  • Plan to collaborate, and collaborate to plan. Develop alliances and partnerships with other companies, local community based organizations, and education institutions to share resources and best practices.
  • Put numbers behind decisions. Use integrated data from across business functions (e.g., human resources, strategy, and research and development) to think more strategically about job design for evolving roles and the necessary skills training.
  • Harness the power of technology. Build a collaborative technology interface that aids in skill adjacency analysis and mapping job competency / skill requirements to help advance employees through their career journeys with more ease—across industries, and at various levels.
  • Get ahead of the job market. Work with labor economists, nonprofits, and other groups to determine the skills needed for roles one to two years from now (and beyond), using data to identify market scarcity and inform investment.

Existing Impact Employer Practices Are More Crucial Than Ever

  • Build a learning organization. Cultivate a culture that actively promotes continuous learning and skill development at all levels of the organization.
  • Generate pathways. Create professional development programs and pathways—particularly for frontline, entry-level, and mid-level workers who are most vulnerable to displacement due to advances in technology.
  • Break down silos. Ensure that the human resources, strategy, and research and development functions are closely aligned.

Employee Perspective

I would hope that in the future, the whole job process would be more open and communicative. Hearing from managers about what’s needed to do a job well and receiving feedback are imperative for not only getting a job, but for professional advancement in the future.

Amber Wallace Dekie, associate service desk technician, Iron Bow Technologies, via Opportunity@Work STARs

Employer Spotlight

Prudential has launched workshops to guide employees in creating skills-based resumes. The focus is on repositioning skills and experiences to demonstrate transferability to other roles. Prudential is also training managers on how to review these types of resumes and encouraging them to consider nontraditional candidates.

Susan McGotty, vice president, Future of Work Career Design, Prudential Financial Inc.

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