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From Backroom to Boardroom

November 20, 2018  

Written by R. W. Pollock, Founder and Chairman, Drake International

As featured in the Fall 2018 issue of HRmatters

Analyzing and forecasting the talent you will need to meet your ongoing business objectives and execute your business strategy is critical for any organization. This is the premise behind workforce planning.

Workforce planning forces you to take a strategic view of managing your employee levels. It identifies gaps between your long-term staffing needs and your available workforce supply to enable you to develop strategies to manage those variances.

In order to make your company more effective through workforce planning you must ensure that your people strategy is fully connected to your business strategy.

The decisions made about how you staff your business have a dramatic effect on your organization’s success. Proactively strate­gizing and making appropriate staffing decisions is one of the most important tasks a manager/leader can make.


Successful workforce planning is an active, ongoing, and dynamic process, which must be repeated and adjusted.


A few years ago, the Conference Board, a global independent business member­ship and research association, conducted a study on strategic workforce planning entitled Strategic Workforce Planning: Forecasting Human Capital Needs to Execute Business Strategy. The author of the report, Mary Young, a senior research associate, said that strategic workforce planning helps:

·      Control employee costs

·      Assess talent needs

·      Make informed decisions to understand whether it’s more effective to outsource an activity or add full-time employees

·      Assess human-capital needs and risks

According to the Conference Board study, “strategic workforce planning is aimed at helping businesses ensure they have the right people in the right place at the right time and at the right price.”

Ensuring that you have the right number of people with the right set of competen­cies in the right jobs at the right time is indeed the objective of workforce plan­ning. Mistakes are costly.

No matter what role you are hiring for, you want top performers, not weak ones. Calculating the costs of a weak-perform­ing employee is often not something that most organizations think about enough or perhaps at all.

Whether you are celebrating the suc­cesses of your high performers or are challenged by weak performers, it all comes down to leadership. It’s the ability of leaders to get others to perform at their best that ultimately creates winning organizations. Good leadership is an es­sential key to corporate success.

What do the people you lead think of your leadership abilities? What attributes of yours stand out for them?

In this age of “disruption” as Deloitte references, it will take visionary, strategic and capable leadership to achieve and sustain outstanding results. And yet, as reported by the Center for Organizational Design in their article “How to Develop Your Leaders”, 80% of CEO’s participating in a recent study rated their efforts to develop leaders throughout their organization as less than adequate.

The adage “The more things change, the more they stay the same” was on my mind recently when I was thinking of the staff­ing process since the days when Drake opened its doors with Office Overload in 1951. The workforce of today is much different than it was in the early 50’s.  You only have to look around you.  For the first time in modern history, workplace demographics now span four generations: it’s the multi-generational workforce, at work, complete with all the management challenges that come along with it. By 2020, it has been estimated that this will grow to 5 generations.

For centuries, people have wanted to have, and needed to have, the right staff with the right skills working in their homes or in their businesses. They wanted people they could depend upon. This will never change. What has dramatically changed, however, are the methods of finding and validating those people. The main reason is technology, which contin­ues to take giant leaps forward and impact how employers recruit great talent and how great talent finds the right employer.

Staffing is a complex, multifaceted ever-changing process that affects all areas of an organization, and evolving technology will continue to impact the recruiting landscape.

Focusing on future trends, technology, and innovation enables you to stay in the fore­front and ahead of the curve to ensure your company can successfully compete on a global level now — and into the future.

Rewriting the rules is today’s reality, and the HR function must rise to the challenge.  Dealing with such issues and managing virtual workforces, workforce analytics, talent retention, retiring workers, succession planning, and in general, preparing HR for organization of the future is not an easy task.

Human resources is here to stay, and its evolution continues.  I have always believed that HR’s focus must be on every aspect of workforce management. 

Already acknowledged as a critical business function, HR has to demonstrate how it generates value and increase organizational performance. HR needs to understand where the company is headed and what skills and competencies will enable the company to reach its goals. 

However, HR professionals need a consistent analytical point of reference to make the right human capital decisions that will positively impact business results.  Proper workforce planning and analytics is the answer for HR departments.  By justifying their human capital decisions, HR will play a proactive role in driving business strategy and earn a more important and valued place in the boardroom.

Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Manitoba (CPHR Manitoba)
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