Jargon buster - 'Strategic workforce planning'

Albert Einstein made more than his fair share of ground-breaking discoveries but he took a dim view of crystal-ball gazing all the same. 'I never think of the future', he said, 'It comes soon enough.'

by
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
But the latest HR trend requires employers to ignore this sage advice and try to predict what the workforce of tomorrow needs to look like. The snappily named strategic workforce planning is about hiring, training and developing staff to prepare a business for what lies ahead.

HR is given the seemingly Sisyphean task of analysing the entire workforce, looking for talent gaps - as well as gaps that it thinks will emerge - and preparing staff to plug these holes as and when the need arises. This covers partnerships, outsourcing, contract and temporary staff as well.

It's a tall order - research from Capita Learning and Development suggests strategic workforce planning isn't doing all that well. It claims 70% of business leaders fear inadequate staff skills are the greatest threat to their ability to grow. A third of senior managers don't even believe their employees have the skills they need now.

But rather like the space-time continuum, strategic workforce planning is more elastic than it first appears - the more you put into it the more you get out. So trying to design the workforce of the future will remain top of the HR agenda for a while yet.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

What are Simon Roberts’ big 3 challenges at Sainsbury’s?

The grocer's new CEO has taken the reins at a critical time.

Should CEOs get political?

The protests that have erupted over George Floyd’s murder have prompted a corporate chorus of...

“You literally have to rewrite your job description”

One minute briefing: In hard times, your network becomes more important than ever, says Prezi...

5 bad habits to avoid when leading remotely

In a crisis, it can be hard to recognise when you've taken your eye off...

A top-level guide to scenario planning

COVID creates unprecedented uncertainty, but there are tried and tested ways of preparing for an...

Is it favouritism to protect an employee no one likes?

The Dominic Cummings affair shows the dangers of double standards, but it’s also true that...