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Workforce planning

Workforce planning is a moving target

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On 26th January, TALiNT Partners hosted a TA leaders dinner in London, in partnership with Reed Talent Solutions, to explore the challenges of workforce planning in an uncertain 2023.

The discussion opened with a review of the hiring market at the beginning of the year with vacancy volumes falling – but still being historically high – and redundancies returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The picture is not as bleak as headlines suggest. Recent reports show an encouraging focus on horizon scanning, looking ahead to medium- and long-term skill requirements, often championed by talent acquisition, but resisted by hiring managers under pressure from business as usual. This is a positive shift.

Despite a wider resurgence of total talent management, and the inclusion of both permanent and contingent resources in workforce planning, enabling a rapid response to changing skill and economic organisational demands, organisations in the room were prioritising permanent hiring this year. There were three key drivers for this: concern that candidates with the required skills would be deterred from applying for a temporary opportunity; the need to increase internal capability and anticipated difficulty in being able to replace specific skillsets should they leave; the absence of centralised ownership and visibility in the hiring and management of the contingent workforce.

Whilst necessary for flexibility, total talent management increases difficulty in maintaining TA control of the overall demand plan; TA Leaders at the dinner did not have ownership of the contract labour process. As with many organisations, contract labour is procured directly by business leadership, resulting in no central view of the total workforce plan. Crucially, the decision tree around what is permanent, and what is contingent, is unclear and route to market decisions often sit with the business leadership, with limited or no involvement from the TA team.

Demand planning in an uncertain economic climate is hard and not static; hiring is more likely to be about getting the most from the budget available than starting with the ideal hiring needed by the organisation. The exclusion of TA leaders from plan-defining conversations is a source of frustration for those accountable for talent delivery. It is also a miss in terms of leveraging the knowledge and experience of those employed as experts in recruitment.

It was clear that employers are still invested in hiring and particularly youth employment, mirroring many current reports across the UK, EMEA and the US, but with the speed of churn accelerating, hiring for retention will be central to sustainable demand planning. A focus on enabling internal mobility and career pathways will be central to effective demand planning in 2023, moving away from like-for-like replacements and creating space for individual aspiration. Thinking in terms of employment lifespan opened up important consideration on how to engage with the 50+ age group, through both reskilling and expanded development opportunities. Many recognised that early talent have been the primary target for candidate attraction, by-passing the large pool of talent looking to re-engage with the workplace, perhaps in a new direction.

TALiNT Partners TA leader events are designed to deliver the most up to date view of the talent market to our members and guests, and to facilitate discussion that is both challenging and thought-provoking. The feedback from the evening was ’interesting’ ‘wonderful’ ‘insightiul’ conversation.

For more details of our TA leaders programme visit. htips://talintpartners.com/events.

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