WORKFORCE BLOG

Workforce profiling for an island or region

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Identifying current skills needs by employers in existing employees and their future workforce and profiling the workforce for an island or a region enables better informed decision making and longer term workforce development strategies.

Analysing the results can provide regional and industry development agencies, local networks, government and funding bodies with insight into strengths vs sustainability, community assets and common development needs.

Collect information and data such as numbers employed by industry, age profile, gender, employment status, skill level, advertised vacancies by month, job type, location, skill level and industry.

Ask business owners about their workforce issues and challenges, the skills needs for their employees and themselves and aggregate the results with the most common development needs.

Design a skills profile that includes foundation skills, transferable skills and job specific skills and map to units of competency from National Training Packages with Skillsbook to make formal recognition and the purchase of training and assessment services easier.

Validate the data analysis, skills profile and dig a bit deeper with businesses to understand what is really casing them problems and what solutions could work.

Summarise the results and trends making recommendations that can be implemented by local people with an action plan.

Publish the report, present the information to all stakeholders including the businesses in the survey, follow through with the actions and keep the action plan as a standing item for the local network with projects and funding built from it.

Move towards a workforce plan for the island or region and for each of the organisations by helping them assess the health of their business, provide support, information, education and mentoring.  Work with the businesses on immediate human resource management issues, strategic planning and chat quickly then do.

Paid Parental Leave

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Australia’s Paid Parental Leave starts on 1 January 2011 with links to relevant websites below:

http://www.familyassist.gov.au/payments/family-assistance-payments/paid-parental-leave-scheme/

Information for employers starts here:

http://www.familyassist.gov.au/payments/family-assistance-payments/paid-parental-leave-scheme/employers–what-will-i-need-to-do.php

Details on eligibility:

http://www.familyassist.gov.au/payments/family-assistance-payments/paid-parental-leave-scheme/working-parents—eligibility.php

Paid Parental Leave Comparison Estimator:

http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/individuals/ppl_working_parents_estimator.htm

Comments in the media:

http://www.theage.com.au/national/paid-parental-leave-the-icing-on-the-cake-for-new-mothers-20110101-19cm3.html

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s3105655.htm

What do you think?

How to build a Competency Framework

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First of all why do you want to build one?

Often it’s because people ask for training and development that may not be directly related to their job role, it may be dealt with ad hoc and often training needs aren’t aggregated at an organisational, project or team level.

Another reason could be that you are looking for an evidence based approach to assessing skill level and performance, you may be recruiting, looking at career progression or you may want to demonstrate your workforce capability for a tender, proposal, project or industry awards.

Whatever the reason, I suggest you start with the end in mind – what are you wanting as the out and outcomes and then work your way back.

Secondly, who needs to be involved to validate and who needs to be briefed and kept up to date with the framework as it develops.  Communication and consultation is absolutely critical so work out who are your audiences, what do you need to say, when and how often, and what communication methods will you use including existing communication channels.  Utilising a group of people representing their job roles, especially if they are well networked in their area is a good way to go.  Help them to know the purpose of the framework, what it will be used for and their knowledge, experience and understanding of the job roles in the framework to validate the competency and skills profiles.

Thirdly, think about the structure which needs to mirror the organisation or client (could be internal or external like a project) you are working with.  I like the structure of core competencies i.e. everybody needs these, functional competencies including leadership i.e. some people need different functions, and job specific competencies i.e. skills that make 1 job role different to another.  Draw a diagram of the competency framework and have the map to relevant skills sitting behind it.

Fourthly, what can we use the framework for?  Training and development needs analysis,performance management, competency based job descriptions and recruitment, career and succession planning, evidence against industry standards and for tenders, proposals, marketing and promotions.

A final word on who needs a framework – well it’s up to you!  I have developed a framework for a 1 person business up to a government department with 43 000 people because they had very real business reasons to build one in the first place.

Updating your workforce plan

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Generally when you write a workforce plan you cover the same time frame as the organisation’s strategic plan which could be 5, 3, 5, 10 or 20 years depending on your industry and budget cycles.

I like to review my workforce plan every 6 months or if there has been a major workforce change or refocus of the business.  For our workforce plan from 2009-2012 we are coming up to version number 4 as January 2011 will give us some time to see where we are up to and what we have achieved.

We haven’t changed our vision, mission, goals or values but the details in our strategic priorities have shifted a little bit as we have recently undertaken an exercise to simplify our brands and further segment our target markets.

As job roles change and we implement workforce development strategies, the framework that measures our workforce capability also needs to change and expand and we will revisit our demand and supply forecasting to see if we are on track.

The workforce planning process basically results in identifying strategies and actions to be put in places to bridge the gap between your current and future workforce.  Here’s an easy to use workforce planning template or a  checklist if you have already developed a workforce plan.

Recognition

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Yesterday I attended a CEDA luncheon with Hugh Mackay on his new book What makes us tick: The ten desires that drive us.

Hugh covered the ten desires including:

The desire to be taken seriously

The desire for ‘my place’

The desire for something to believe in

The desire to connect

The desire to be useful

The desire to belong

The desire for more

The desire for control

The desire for something to happen

The desire for love

Mackay asserts that the desire to be taken seriously is the most important one, “Not seriously as in ‘Oh what a serious person!’ but seriously as in ‘Please recognise and acknowledge me as an individual.’ (p.2)

So how does this apply to workforce management?  Well I’d suggest this desire relates to every aspect of working effectively with people – recognising their achievements, skills, performance, career aspirations, leadership, issues, ideas, work load, work-life balance and the importance of engaging people in decision making, problem solving and change implementation.  A good reminder really of the need to practice recognising people every day.

Workforce Development funding

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So where to look for funding opportunities to support your workforce development project or training of your staff?  Here’s a couple of sites and links you might find useful with programs funded by the Australian Government:

Critical Skills Investment Fund

Workforce Innovation Program

Clean Sustainable Skills Package

Teaching and Learning Capital Fund

Workplace English Language and Literacy Program

Productivity Places Program

Industry Training Strategies Program

Jobs Fund

Innovation Fund

Applications for Training Grants

Family Centred Employment Project

Social Enterprise Development and Investment Fund

IBSA supporting Workforce Development

Ausindustry Programs and Grants

Enterprise Connect Services and Grants

Grantslink

Post your links of funds and grants you know of and look out for a new blog post with state and territory specific funding information soon.

Clever Brainstorming Techniques

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I’m always looking for innovative ways to think up new projects; about problems and answers; and to understand workforce issues and opportunities.

Recently I came across Speed Thinking by Ken Hudson which has 4 steps:

1. Start – brainstorm 9 ideas in 2 minutes (individually or in a group)

2. Evaluate – in 2 minutes pick the best idea in 2 minutes

3. Build – make this 1 idea 9 times better in 2 minutes

4. Action – identify 9 action steps in 2 minutes

Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim & Renee Mawborgne 2005 aims to create value innovation with their 4 actions framework:

– Reduce – Which factors should be reduced?

– Create – Which factors should be created?

– Raise – Which factors should be raised?

– Eliminate – Which of the factors should be eliminated?

Think Better by Tim Hurson says productive thinking in action starts with:

– What’s the itch?

-What’s the impact?

-What’s the information

– What do you know and wonder?

-Who’s involved?

-What the vision?

Thinking differently doesn’t often come naturally and using these techniques moves you away from looking at things in the same old way.

99 Ways to Retain Good Staff

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At a recent Enterprise Connect workforce re-engineering network meeting, participants took on the challenge of coming up with 99 ways to retain good staff.  Here’s the results – we got to 63 so what else would you add?

  1. Rubber chicken award – recognition of a job well done
  2. Clear career pathways
  3. Exchange programs – across the organisation, outside and back again
  4. Defined expectations from the team member and manager
  5. Understanding of the psychological contract and unwritten agreements
  6. Two-way, meaningful communication
  7. Performance – defining good and poor performance
  8. Input into decision making
  9. Empathy and understanding for issues outside of work
  10. Team discussions, meetings and planning
  11. Democratic workplace and included
  12. Birthday leave – leave day for your birthday
  13. Flexibility with work commitments – early/late start
  14. Professional development
  15. Events, dinners and industry functions – BBQ’s, Melbourne Cup, lunches, Christmas
  16. Conferences and travelling
  17. Boss willing to work alongside staff
  18. Nice work environment
  19. Positive atmosphere
  20. Health and well being programs, flu shots, checks
  21. Free drinks machine, tea, coffee and biscuits
  22. Years of service awards
  23. Bring your partners along to special events
  24. Gifts, thank you, pressies and awards
  25. Transport provide for special occasions
  26. Know your staff well – personal interests, partner and kids names
  27. Balance in the team – experience, knowledge, skills, generations
  28. Find out what people want to be known for
  29. What do people say and think about you?
  30. Accommodation and housing
  31. Project based opportunities
  32. Exciting work
  33. Clear about future directions
  34. Access to the boss
  35. Multi skilling
  36. Find out what work people want to do
  37. Share management duties such as chairing meetings
  38. Activities to support charities and volunteer
  39. Public acknowledgement
  40. Massages, mini breaks
  41. Listening
  42. Photos, video of career history
  43. Wellness programs
  44. Work sports teams and leagues
  45. Manage the poor performers
  46. Toolbox chats
  47. Social and environmental responsibility initiatives
  48. Competency based recruitment and selection
  49. Match ethos and values
  50. Attitude over aptitude
  51. Set goals and review regularly
  52. Build your own training centre – pride and joy to conduct own training
  53. Ask why do you stay?
  54. Immaculate facility
  55. Social club and activities
  56. Demonstrate good management in the tough times with clear communication
  57. Internal mentors
  58. Mid-career opportunities – networking of similar cohort across the organisation
  59. Higher education opportunities – complete a Masters degree as a group
  60. Phased retirement
  61. Surprises – nice ones
  62. Exercise program – Pilates as a group
  63. Gym program to support physical requirements of the job

Temporary Work as a Retention Strategy

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It might seem counter intuitive?  More temporary work is being offered as short-term contracts ranging in length from a few months to around 18 months as a retention strategy for some employees.  The contractor and project-based temporary workforce is responding to employer needs for staff who have specific skills and knowledge.  Employees can also develop expertise in a set of skills, be involved in particular projects or work for key employers to boost their resume and career.  A temporary contract is particularly popular in defence and mining industries and for major infrastructure projects in civil construction and rail.  The trend seems more towards a pool or group of people working together around a project and a specific contract rather than temping doing general kind of work.  These opportunities are very much around project-based expertise.  People tend of want that flexibility as well because it gives them experience in different areas.  Project management gives them different skills sets.  Temporary work allows employers to match their workforce to the projects that have on the go at any moment and ramp up projects quickly.  Some staff are juggling multiple projects or jobs and gaining work through word of mouth in their personal or professional networks, rather than being employed by a temping agency.  Temporary contracts also allow workers to have extended mini breaks between jobs which means they work hard and have limited work life balance during the life of the contract.  But it allows them extra time off between projects.  There are extra benefits rather than pay and employers are using temporary work as a retention strategy.

As interviewed by Cara Jenkin, CareerOne Editor and published in The Advertiser, CareerOne section on 30.10.10 p. 3

So You Think about your Workforce

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Today’s result in the 2010 Melbourne Cup with all the hype about So You Think as the absolute favourite (who then came third) goes to show you can’t make assumptions.

Often I get asked these questions – What’s going to happen to our workforce?  Will our key people be leaving soon?  What will help to retain our staff?  Don’t make assumptions about these important answers.

Now I know horses don’t talk, so why don’t you ask your staff what they want, what their plans are into the future and what can you do to retain the people you need for your business success.