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Workforce Planning Exchange: The War for Talent

At our October 7th meeting we held an open discussion of several aspects of strategic workforce planning, including one submitted by an i4cp member, and then three questions planned for the agenda. Here are some highlights from each discussion:

What best practices and approaches are you using for career development for future roles?

  • One organization is very focused on future leaders in particular, evolving them to being more strategic than tactical managers.
  • Another organization said they are now having quarterly touchpoints as development conversations, not just goal check-ins.
  • Another indicated they have created Communities of Practice for a variety of roles, but especially key technology areas such as AI, Cloud, etc. in order to enable employees in these areas to increase competency by sharing upskilling practices, training opportunities, etc.
  • One participant noted they are focusing on future skillsets first, and will focus on roles later. Another commented that it is hard to predict future roles (vs. skills), and when you think you see one it is actually a current role and you are already behind in upskilling for it.
  • Roles also can becoming confining in the same way job descriptions can, leading people to lose sight of underlying skills and the opportunities that can be matched to them.
  • One organization is very focused on their shift to hybrid work, and the issue of what skills will be unique and new to support that (especially for managers).
  • Another participant noted that they are providing learning solutions for both individuals who already know what new skills they want to pursue (focused academies), and for those who are not clear yet (a broad learning platform as a buffet of sorts).

What connections does your organization make between purpose, culture, and especially employer brand, with the various sources of talent you are focused on? (e.g., FTE/PTE, overlooked talent pools, gig workers, interns/co-ops, etc.)

  • One organization said they have intentionally re-anchored their corporate purpose for all talent sources. The purpose and brand positioning has remained the same, but the communication mechanisms have changed, e.g., greater use of physical mail, more corporate communications from leaders, etc.
  • One participant noted an increase in voluntary turnover during the summer and into the fall, so they have refocused on making the organization's purpose clear in their go-to-market strategy. They are even A/B testing some employer branding approaches.
  • Another noted that they tweak messaging for their intern audience, which has continued through the pandemic and been quite successful, with a 40-50% hire rate for interns.
  • Returnships were also raised as an area of focus, especially for moms returning to the workforce.

How do you work, and what is the relationship like, with your colleagues in Talent Acquisition and Total Rewards?

  • One participant said they are trying to connect more with TA, and to do so have had info-sharing between SWP and TA in both directions during monthly HR meetings.
  • Another admitted they do struggle to combat the siloes and tribalism that can arise between HR functional areas.
  • Several noted that they hope upcoming HRIS/HCM upgrades and rollouts will enable better collaboration between SWP, TA, and TR.
  • One participant who recently had such a rollout agreed that it can, but noted there will be bumps along the road, especially from seeing some things that went unseen previously.

What are your biggest current workforce planning challenges in the ever-changing war for talent?

  • Several participants agreed that the need for speed and agility is critical, especially regarding talent.
  • Example: At one company they are now doing salary benchmarking every four months instead of every 18 months.
  • Another participant noted the increasing misalignment between rising wages vs. rising prices for products. The former is outpacing the latter, leading to an unwelcome math problem for the organization.
  • Several agreed that a big issue is how and when to get out in front of these fast-coming changes. Do you have a herd mentality, where you aren't a leader but also don't want to be a laggard? Or can you react more strongly to change by seeing it as a great opportunity or even to disrupt old ways of doing business?
  • One participant asked how much support are workforce planning professionals seeing from upper management in the war for talent? The consensus was that for the most challenging roles, there was increasing understanding and support, with senior leaders digging into the data, holding weekly meetings, and having an all-hands-on-deck attitude. For other areas of less urgency, TA and workforce planning are expected to just find people.
  • There is also an increasing demand for recruiters of course, in order to meet the needs of the rest of the business.


This meeting is exclusively for members of the Workforce Planning Exchange. If you'd like to participate, please contact us to see if you qualify. If you are an i4cp member, please log in to access the registration/meeting details.
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