HR Food For Thoughts – Steve Rowe

by Steve Rowe

Undoubtedly the Covid crisis has created headaches for organisations as they struggle to plan for the mid-term, let alone the long term in our increasingly fragile economy.

This challenge creates a fabulous opportunity for HR practitioners to get serious about workforce planning. Australian organisations have historically been resistant to follow the path of the US and Europe in growing a contingent workforce. However a new generation of more mobile workers together with an increasing need to ‘variabilise’ the cost-base to create more workforce agility means the time is ripe for CPOs to insert themselves into the business planning and budgeting process with sustainable solutions to workforce change.

All too often the “workforce plan” has been little more than a headcount line on a chart that roughly mirrors the projected cost base, which in turn is invariably a significantly less steeper line than the revenue line above it.

However, as a close colleague of mine once said ‘headcount is vanity, pay-cost is sanity”. Comprehensive and considered workforce planning will go way beyond a spurious definition of “headcount” and consider pay-cost in the round whether permanent, casual, contract or 3rd party consultancy.

In addition to Capacity and Composition (i.e. employment type) – a quality workforce plan should also take a close look at future-proofing capability, which is much tougher but certainly not impossible to assess. Covid has proved up the technology to support greater home working and accelerated digital transformation including the use of technologies such as AI. As a consequence, the workforce capability requirements are changing rapidly with significant implications for the workforce of the future.

There will never be a better time for the HR community to lead the charge in shaping the business critical conversation about future workforce needs. It’s time for HR to step up to the plate.

Steve Rowe has over 20 years of experience as a senior HR/Transformation/Change executive and advising consultant. He is highly skilled at planning, leading and implementing sustainable business transformation for organisations that are looking to optimise their processes, structure, people and culture in a dynamic market context. Feel free to connect with Steve on LinkedIn.