Evolving Workforce Planning for the Age of Agility

October 17, 2019

Our members from our Chief Talent Officer 250 and Global HR Leader Communities were recently hosted by MetLife for our Autumn One-Day Meeting.

With CTO250 Academic in Residence Dr. Anna Tavis facilitating, members discussed common challenges and detailed pursuits of innovative solutions within their organizations, including people-centric approaches to workforce planning, “new-skilling,” and new approaches to leadership development. Other topics discussed in group and breakout sessions included:

• Identifying when/whether to Build, Buy, Bend, or “Bot” (automate)
• Aligning purpose with the future of work
• Digital and custom approaches to learning
• Building and enabling agile teams
• HR technology platform recommendations
• Making real-time feedback work
• Transformation and the capacity for it
• Developing mindsets for the future

Peer Presentations: Future of Work and Adapting to Change

Planning for the Future of work is a top priority for host MetLife. Burgeoning technological advances in predictive under writing, genetic testing, telematics, usage-based insurance, drones, claims processing, autonomous vehicles, internet of things, blockchain and AI are all disrupting the insurance industry. It’s no secret that the industry’s top performers over the next decade will be the ones who do the best at re-skilling or new-skilling their workforce, including making the right calls on what to automate.

In this environment, MetLife has dedicated extra resources—including the entire proceeds of a tax dividend directed by the new CEO—toward preparing for the future of work, with a focus on learning. MetLife detailed the core pillars of their learning strategy, and how it enables the business strategy. The presentation kicked off a conversation around different member organizations’ approaches to new-skilling and re-skilling.

In other conversations, members shared their experiences in building and enabling agile teams. Common challenges include educating and applying agile principles across broader populations and varied outcomes.

One member, whose company was an early adopter of agile teams in its industry, reported that half the teams are flourishing and half are failing. Discussion turned to the characteristics of those teams that do succeed, and where talent leaders should focus their efforts.

Thought Leader Presentation: Strategic Workforce Planning in Dynamic Business Environments

Dr. Sheri Feinzig, Director, Talent Management Solutions, IBM

Building on her upcoming article for People + Strategy Journal, Dr. Sheri Feinzig presented and co-facilitated a workshop on Strategic Workforce Planning in Dynamic Business Environments. Feinzig described the Strategic Workforce Planning process as integral to the overall business strategy and a place where HR leaders can increase the impact of their roles and teams.

Strategic Workforce Planning identifies the talent needed to achieve business goals, now and in the future, meaning the right people in the right jobs at the right time, optimizing costs and building the flexibility to adapt. Feinzig discussed scenario planning and the analytical tools that support it, emphasizing the need to think broadly about sources of data and potential external risks.

When executed well, Strategic Workforce Planning is a powerful actionable tool, so long as data is routinely updated, the plan goes no further than five years and is revisited at least annually. It delivers:
• Gap analysis—total talent needs for executing the business strategy
• Scenario planning to account for uncertainties (geo-political instability, natural disasters, economic downturn, etc.)
• Prioritized list of gaps to close, how to close them, timing of actions, contingency plans
• Skill surpluses and redeployment options

Feinzig also detailed the factors leaders should consider when bringing new skills into their organizations. She discussed tools leaders can use to make informed decisions on which populations to re-skill or new-skill. Feinzig warned that layoffs are often inaccurately valued, with downside costs and risks under-considered. These include increased voluntary turnover, decreased quality and safety, decreased innovation, negative impact on employer brand, lower job satisfaction, lower commitment and lower performance.

Member Breakouts

The meeting concluded with Dr. Feinzig and Dr. Tavis facilitating small group discussions on the paths member companies are taking in preparing for the workforce of the future. Some have Strategic Workforce Planning (sometimes with a different name like Talent Strategy) at the core of their goals, while others have thrown it out entirely, focusing instead on advanced learning. Specific examples are available in the members’ summary.

About this Summary

This briefing is for HR leaders outside of Chief Talent Officer 250. A detailed meeting summary is available to members of CTO250 and their teams. To find out more about the activities your peers are engaging in fill out the form below.

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