Workforce Planning –“Isn’t that HR’s job?!” or “Let’s wait and see”

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Recently when I asked you, “What’s your biggest frustration around workforce planning and development?” you responded with the following themes and comments:

It is difficult to explain the benefits of workforce planning and development

  • Finding the time to do this and having the resources
  • Managing day to day operations vs. looking to the future and long term goals
  • People don’t understand what it actually is
  • Getting senior management on board, engaged and following through with actions
  • Not much evidence that employees are included in the process and planning development and then an opposing view that getting input from staff and managers was difficult
  • Seeing it as an exercise to get funding and not taking it seriously
  • Development strategies are not implemented in a timely manner with management preferring a wait and see rather than using the evidence presented in the workforce plan

Problems with data

  • Getting reliable data
  • A lack of detailed data that is freely accessible
  • Gaps in industry, regional and national data partly due to a lack of take up by micro-businesses

Working through funding and red tape

  • Rates that translate into unacceptable pay rates for staff contributing to high turnover
  • Lack of understanding of regional issues
  • Instability and strict rules makes planning ahead very difficult
  • Time and effort to complete paperwork and applications
  • Reporting required for federal government funding

Lack of knowledge

  • Competency frameworks, succession planning, career progression pathways, knowledge management especially knowledge retention, knowledge transfer
  • Knowing what tools are available and what are best suited to our sector and circumstances
  • Capturing the reservoir of knowledge and lessons learnt from senior people before they retire

Leading by example

  • Registered Training Organisations, Employment Service Providers, Government and Skill Agencies applying workforce planning and development to themselves

Developing skills

  • Identifying the mix of skills and characteristics needed for the emerging environment and getting people to undertake development activities
  • Gaining a meaningful outlook on what the business will look like in medium term leading to the need to develop core capacity in leadership, flexibility and innovation

System issues

  • Getting people’s heads around workforce planning on major projects, with changeover of key contacts and with the complexity of sub-contractor workforces
  • Lack of consistency in the approach of the government towards the imposition of additional costs on business which interferes with the opportunity to forward plan with any degree of certainty
  • Not having the capacity to offer good staff contracts on the spot – it needs to go through government process and along the way these staff get snapped up by other organisations; or not having the capacity to keep good staff, due to budget tightening

Finding suitable tools

  • Having a system you can load all the requirements into
  • Lack of systems and tools

Lack of workforce capacity

  • Not having sufficient hours on offer to attract the right/best people for the positions I have and when I do employ people they do not stay long
  • Understaffed in some areas and over staffed in others with a need to reduce costs all round

Over the coming weeks, I will aim to address each of these frustrations, one at a time and to provide solutions where I can, so could you please help me with your ideas and suggestions?

I’d also like to hear from you regarding what’s working well with workforce planning and development in Australia.  Thank you.

PS.  To those policy and decision makers reading this blog post, if you’d like to have the opportunity to hear from our clients and contacts, gain some feedback and input, then please get in touch.

P.S.S.  You may also be interested in feedback on the biggest frustrations around VET in Australia – read blog post here.

Collated by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner, Workforce BluePrint, July 2013.

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