As 81% of executives in Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trends (GTT) confirmed - the business and people agendas have never been more intertwined. In a period that we at Mercer define as “the rise of the relatable organization,” it’s no surprise that those organizations ahead of the curve are more likely to be upgrading their approaches to strategic workforce planning (SWP) and finding new ways to deliver services and pace their growth.
In fact, in this study spanning 16 countries and 13 industries, SWP is HR’s number one priority this year, closely followed by transitioning to a skills-based organization. Delivering on the skills imperative is also the number-one talent initiative executives believe will deliver a return on their investment. But with economic instability continuing, making it critical to plan rather than react, to market changes and talent supply realities, how can we get this right?
One thing is clear - solving today’s challenges requires businesses to flex both the demand and supply curves if they are to win in the future of work (FoW). Doing so demands a more dynamic and market responsive approach to planning and one that challenges the traditional headcount-driven approach. Getting this wrong can have far reaching consequences. Just this past week we saw two stand-out examples: Consumer confidence in the holiday and airline industry has faltered given the challenges in addressing the undersupply of workers at airports, and there is a looming health crisis as hospitals fail to sufficiently prepare for the surge in demand as people reinitialize health checks. The stability of the past is long gone, and this new environment is demanding a new approach - one that takes into account the advent of new ways to partner (hybrid, gig, jobs sharing, remote) and places a premium on building agile workforces. Work we’re doing with eQ8, the most comprehensive SWP platform, couldn’t come at a more exciting time.
The market leader in dynamic scenario modeling, the eQ8 platform empowers SWP experts with the deep organizational insight they need to facilitate and accelerate alignment across complex stakeholder groups. The platform perfectly complements Mercer’s decades of experience advising the world’s largest and innovative companies on their people strategies. We’ve already seen how eQ8’s easy-to-understand visualizations compel leaders to act across multiple talent use cases — from uncovering the work (and workers) that drive business impact to identifying the skills needed to fuel their future growth aspirations to determining where talent scarcity can benefit from job redesign and automation.
When I reflect on the five trends in Mercer’s GGT study , it’s evident that taking a strategic approach to SWP - powered by technology, could make a measurable difference:
1. Winning organizations appreciate the need to reset for relevance through the eyes of their stakeholders. The challenge is building enough adaptive capacity into work models to enable talent to flow to new work opportunities, and more readily deliver on Good Work Standards. SWP can help by lifting the gaze from the fire-fighting of the day to strategy and quantifying the capacity in the system to pivot when needed.
2. With two in three executives believing gig workers will make up a larger proportion of the workforce in the future and two out of three employees preferring a hybrid work arrangement, figuring out how best to work in partnership under different employment configurations has never been more critical. Yet, gig working is a less attractive option for workers, and there are different views on what roles can or cannot be done remotely. Clearly, there’s work to be done to figure out the optimal job mix. SWP can help you build a variable model into your work plans so you can deliver on both job security and flexibility.
3. With the imperative to deliver on total well-being, productivity modeling today has to take account of well-being drivers and people-sustainability concerns. Dynamic modeling can take these factors into account, helping executives anticipate where greater capacity might be needed to ensure employees and business models aren’t under undue stress due to projected rates of illness and absenteeism.
4. As we build for employability, knowing which skills are imperative to develop when and where – and which ones might be more costly as we plan for growth -– will be critical as organizations seek to manage costs in the face of market turbulence. SWP can help you make informed choices about where best to upskill, reskill and redeployee talent, and it can help answer questions around how best to pace your digitalization agendas.
5. Finally, as we appreciate the need to harness organizational energy, using workforce data to anticipate capacity constraints and workload surges can help organizations better plan their transformation activities and ensure they retain and engage their talent as they drive change. SWP ensures leadership provision for organizational resilience and enhances its ability to execute in the face of so much change.