The answer is Yes! Back to the future with workforce planning.
HR’s role in the downturn is, if anything, more vital than in normal times: the tasks change but the business impact grows. Yet there is equally more of a risk that HR spends its time firefighting. If the organisation is facing oblivion then
it might be legitimate to prioritise quenching the flames, but HR should also be helping the organisation look to the future and to look at both the external and internal environment. This is the reason for emphasising workforce planning
in a downturn. This should guide the organisation’s understanding of whether its
internal resources will match business demands, not just now but in the
longer term. The greater the uncertainty, the greater the need to think about
the future, not in a linear way but such that the various possible outcomes
can be described. Hence the value of scenario planning.
If old-fashioned manpower planning often suffered from simplistic forecasting, in the hands of some it treated labour supply only in terms of numbers. As has become all too apparent, it is necessary to plan against skill requirements. When downsizing, it is especially important that organisations consider the skills profile needed to get through short-term crisis, but also that will be needed for future growth.
There is also more interest than during the last recession in employee engagement. In the current context this means keeping employees focused on the business imperatives, understanding the requirements of the job and delivering the best possible results. As my survey has shown, keeping staff feeling valued and involved (which may be tough given the degree of business uncertainty), making sure there is good two-way communication, and ensuring fair treatment to those that leave as those that stay,
should help to engender the right sort of positive atmosphere.
Given the continuing interest in employee engagement, I have just completed for few organisations a review of its survey into the subject. It includes practical advice about what works best, and what HR can do to raise engagement levels. In tandem, I have just completed a survey study into the ‘engaging manager’. It looks at the line manager’s crucial role in fostering and nurturing engagement. It identifies ‘engaging’ characteristics that can be built into line manager assessments and training programmes.
For further information please contact me direct: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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