Strategic Workforce Planning with eQ8

eQ8

Thought Leadership

eQ8 is the only dedicated end-to-end platform for strategic workforce planning so you can prepare your workforce for any future. Find out how SWP can help you drive alignment and understand the skills your organisation needs to meet its future goals. 

Strategic Workforce Planning: The Business Case for HR

We're speaking with Chris Hare, Founder of eQ8 a Technology Partner in the Sprouta Ecosystem as he discusses the importance of

Strategic Workforce Planning and why you need to start now to gain a competitive advantage.

The Problems We Solve: eQ8 Partner Spotlight

At eQ8, we are passionate about connecting people to purpose. How that translates with businesses is that their organisational success is currently at risk.

Change is constant; we work with companies who now realize change is very rapid, and leaders need to be able to look forward and create coherence in where the

organisation is headed so that it is appropriately geared to react.

The problem we're solving is a capacity issue and delivering to the customer in the context of constant disruption. Will we be able to realize our revenue goals this year, next year, the year after?

So fundamentally, the problem we solve is helping companies fulfill their purpose and make and save money.

Can you explain the value of SWP in detail for our community?

Strategic Workforce Planning has been in the market for a few decades, but it means different things to different people, and that’s the issue. For some people, it's just a hiring plan or headcount budgeting.

And for many senior executives, they've either seen it done very poorly or not seen it at all. So they can't put their finger on this button of "here's a mechanism to help me solve it."

It's helpful to break that down between the S, the W, and the P.

The S in SWP is strategic.

This is a business-based discussion about the future around a shared model using dynamic scenarios. The value of this discussion cannot be emphasised enough, and in most cases, this conversation is not being had. Everyone says they have a strategy, and leadership can agree, but there's so much of that strategy that's really a vision, not a strategy. Executives go back to their functions and interpret what that means, and that's not good enough. SWP forces the right kind of discussion.

A recent statistic shows that 87% of strategy is not realized (Dan Prosser -Award-Winning Author, entrepreneur, and business strategist), and there's something like $70 billion in squandered transformation projects. That's because they're either delivered late or not to the expected quality, or people aren't there to catch it.

The W part is the forecast of what we need.

What we call demand, distinct from what we happen to have today, both in terms of FTE forecast and capability. What skills are changing, what new skills are emerging, and what's the gap from what we have today?

The W part is the forecast of what we need, what we call demand, distinct from what we happen to have today, both in terms of FTE forecast and capability. What skills are changing, what new skills are emerging, and what's the gap from what we have today?

The P part of the plan, this isn't just hire and fire.

We have all seen that play out recently in the tech industry. We've lived through that, and it doesn't work. We know organisations that have fired a large groups of people and then, a few months later, said, "Oh, actually, we fired too many. Will some of you come back?" This costs an organisation including EVP costs, trust costs, and momentum costs. If you have a forecast, you can have a much richer conversation around the plan of how you're going to secure resources. And yes, you may be letting some go, but you're going to be doing a lot of build initiatives too. And a note to our L&D friends, you cannot operate if the business does not know what's happening a year or two from now. You cannot have enough runway to build people's goal skills for the needs in a two-month timeframe. All you're going to do is train people for their next job, not for what you need.

We know that by bringing together dynamic scenarios and pulling in a conversation that transcends finance, strategy, HR, and the business, we create this shared discussion about the future. And it creates that translation into what are we going to need to achieve it in terms of people and how will we get there, how will we buy, build, or borrow or others in order to be able to close these gaps.

So SWP is this unexpected mechanism that leading organisations are now using to drive a rich conversation around alignment of the leadership function, a forecast of what's needed to achieve our strategy, and a very clear plan of what we're going to do to achieve it.

What happens when SWP is not done?

We see tech layoffs and restructures. Internally we see an inability to discern what we should be doing. And so we bring in the big consulting companies and others to tell us what to do. Often the outcomes are not great, a lot of value gets destroyed because we rip out some of our cultural DNA because we're making short term reactive, cost based decisions, not long term revenue based decisions. One of our fundamental arguments is that people are the linchpin to the success of an organisation. HR now need to start business casing what they're going to choose to do. This is where we can help.

‘I really don't understand how companies who employ anybody, particularly those that are employing thousands of people, can be responsible employers if they cannot see what 12 to 18 months looks like’.

Where does SWP sit in terms of corporate responsibility and impacting individuals?

We talk a lot about how SWP helps you make money and helps you save money, and those commercial outcomes are a big driver. I really don't understand how companies who employ anybody, particularly those that are employing thousands of people, can be responsible employers if they cannot see what 12 to 18 months looks like. How can organisations know the person they're hiring today will have career longevity? They can't. I can see a world where I will choose to work at Company B instead of Company A, because I know they're certified in forward thinking, and they're not just hiring me for today, but they're hiring me for tomorrow. They can show that they have taken people from sections of their business that are declining and been able to move them into areas that are increasing.

When is the right time to have a conversation about SWP?

Get started now. Have a grounded discussion about the future and then decide how to future-proof. This approach can then mature over time. The organisations that do SWP now will have the capability to react and adapt to the market a lot quicker than their competitors. So we say you've got to get started now! It's better to have a high level conversation directionally around the future of the organisation than to wait for total SWP maturity to have the perfect conversation in two years.

What would you say to CPO’s who are wanting to get some traction and engagement from the executives in SWP. What's your advice to them?

My advice is you need to go in with your eyes open. There's a three-legged stool for success, and if any of the legs are missing, you're in trouble. Philosophy, process and platform, you've got to have clarity around the problems that the business is facing, that SWP solves, and you've got to be able to have that conversation quarterly -what's happening in the future, does our strategy support this and what is our purpose. You need a leadership team that philosophically believes SWP is worth doing, because if they don't buy into it, you can have a great process in HR and a wonderful platform but won't realize the value. That's where a lot of SWP initiatives fail, they lose the power of SWP to drive future based conversations. So getting that right and working with people who've done it before who can actually hold your hand through that, I think is crucial. There's a lot of consultants that are willing to learn on your dime. There's not a lot who've actually done it.

On process – you need to have a quantified approach that reflects your specific business. Qualitative discussions or generic environmental scans will not cut it. You also need to balance data with strategic conversations that engage leaders.

On platform, there are too many moving parts to do this in Excel. It is not a headcount bidding war or budget.

It’s a scenario discussion on business forecasts that then need to be translated into FTE and skills. Depending on the audience and scope, you need to be able to see top down as well as bottom-up approaches. These require differing views to answer different questions.

So you need those three legs, and I think you need a CPO who recognizes their strengths and weaknesses within their own function and can figure out how much handholding they need to get there.

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