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How to Incorporate Analytics into Workforce Planning

In a time of great disconnection in the workplace, scenario planning through analytics may be the key to success for companies and their people.

The workplace disconnection ascends because businesses are having trouble finding enough skilled employees to fill their vacant positions, yet even the best workers are afraid of losing their jobs to automation.

To prevent people from leaving, employers are adding Ping-Pong tables in their companies, providing free snacks, giving new benefits like student loan repayment, and flexible hours and work-from-home facilities.

What various employers haven't done is to perform a thorough, data-driven analysis of what their workforce will look like in the future as an outcome of technology advancements, competition, and workforce trends.

“Really defining what your future workforce model is based on all these scenarios … is the first thing they need to do," said Bhushan Sethi, the joint global leader for People and Organization for PwC US. "How they do that is going through scenario-planning exercises and taking positions and making assumptions. It's back to good, basic planning.”

Scenario planning can aid employers to understand the jobs workers will hold in the future — and how to train people for those jobs. But a current PwC survey of 1,246 business and human resources leaders from 79 nations shows the disconnection between organizational leaders’ values and the decisions they have taken. The top 10 corporate objectives recognized by these respondents involved numerous people-focused items like:

•    Treasuring, developing, and rewarding human skills like leadership and creativity.
•    The comfort of employees.
•    Performance management that emphases on output, not hours.
•    A collaborative environment.
•    Work/life balance.
•    Re-skilling.

The absence of a comprehensive mechanism to bring these objectives to fruition is leaving businesses short of their goals, Sethi said.
“Many of our clients are still implementing HR technology, still implementing their HR programs, their performance management, et cetera,” Sethi said. “They are talking about re-skilling and implementing some elements of re-skilling, talking about changing their candidate experience, but there isn’t a cohesive plan to pull it all together.”

The PwC survey reveals that enterprises are failing to integrate data into their workforce planning. More than one-third (41%) of respondents said that while it’s essential to use insights from big data and advanced analytics in workforce management, their enterprise is not taking action on that. In the meantime, 34% said that even though it’s essential, they are not using data analytics to foresee and observe skills gaps in their workforce.

Sethi said scenario planning is crucial to put in place a workforce that will be set for the future. He suggested that companies go through their functions, lines of business, and regions (where applicable) and figure out how many full-time and contract people they will require, as well as how many bots they may implant into different procedures.

Predictive analytics can aid employers to estimate their future talent requirements, understand how to build convincing experiences for their people, and remove bias in hiring, assignment, and appraisal of people, according to the PwC report.

Sethi said it’s necessary to communicate plans for the future to employees, clients, suppliers, service providers, and even regulators and the community as a whole. Where innovative technologies are involved, he said organizations should describe to customers that automation is being used to enhance their experience and the business.

The final step from a people standpoint, Sethi said, is to test human resources mechanisms to realize if they support the organization’s data-actualized vision for the future.

“If you’re investing in a new learning curriculum or a new learning management system, how does that actually help me get those soft skills we need?” Sethi said. “If you’re investing in a well-being program, have you really focused it on the employees that are most at risk? ... It’s looking at every one of your HR programs to see if it fits the purpose.”

The scenario planning is necessary to do all of it right, according to Sethi. Several people are scared of what technological innovation means for their careers, and you can’t tell your people what that effect will be if you haven’t done the forecasting to support a complete plan for the future. Also, you can’t reskill your staff for the jobs of the future if you haven't found out what those jobs will require.

Company finance departments have a serious role to play in this procedure, along with the human resources function.

“Finance and HR require to work together around incorporated financial, and workforce planning, scenarios, and how they effect headcount,” Sethi said. “They also affect cost, and those things are interrelated and come together in your budget.”

From a strategic outlook, finance personnel also have a grip on the data and forecasting methods that can drive the organization to a better understanding of its requirements for the future.

“We’re not using the power of the data analytics enough to make people-based decisions,” Sethi said, “whether it’s around planning for the workforce, whether it’s around whom we hire, or how we reward.”

Workforce analytics using HR analytics program from a quality institute can equip you with the skills required to take appropriate business decisions to drive business growth. Top institutions have resources and experienced faculty to help you kick-start your journey in the field of HR analytics.