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Workforce Planning à la ‘Late Show’

by Apr 23, 2014, 12:12 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 7.02.34 AMIt’s no secret that being the front man on one of TV’s late night shows is a coveted role. Lately it seems like many of TV’s “funny men” are passing the torch to the next generation of comical geniuses. Jay Leno handed The Tonight Show over to Saturday Night Live alumnus Jimmy Fallon, and more recently the news of David Letterman’s retirement and Stephen Colbert as his replacement on the Late Show has been all the media buzz. Even comedian Chelsea Handler has reportedly been a replacement possibility for The Late Late Show’s personality, Craig Ferguson.

What these have in common is that the TV networks adequately prepare to handle changes to keep moving forward. Gaps in program scheduling can be a hefty cost for networks, and the same can be true for organizations with employment inconsistencies.

It’s one of the hot talent acquisition topics right now, but why are organizations only just realizing the importance of workforce forecasting? Some believe it’s because of the influx of millennials entering the workforce and the mass exodus of boomers retiring. Others believe it’s the change in employment norms, where lifetime employment is fading out and it’s now common for people to have several jobs throughout their career. Plan ahead and forecast what your company may need in 2, 5, or 10 years. That may sound like a simple idea, but the thought of using talent communities and in-depth market research to prepare for the future isn’t something that every company is familiar with.

Here are a few tactics you can put into motion immediately.

Don’t just forecast one scenario. Top-performing organizations forecast and plan for multiple scenarios in order to be adequately prepared for any situation that may arise. Remember the famous John Lennon line, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”? There are so many different directions your business can go in such a short period of time, so visualize multiple angles and plan accordingly.

Just because you have secured a staff of top performers who have the skills for business needs two years down the road doesn’t mean they will still be there. Even the best plans can unravel, and having backup plans for your back-up plans shouldn’t be considered “too cautious.” For example, there were many replacement options for David Letterman. Each person was carefully evaluated based on audience appeal, who will drive profits and the best option for long-term success. These evaluations were also considered against multiple scenarios, allowing the network to prepare top choices for each case.

Concentrate on internal alignment. How can you expect to improve, forecast, and prepare if you don’t understand what drives and impacts business performance? Analyze critical job roles and metrics and determine if current talent has the tools necessary for growth. Focus on risk identification and workforce inconsistencies to build a strategic talent acquisition plan. Don’t wait for exit interviews to identify trends; start investigating now. This can ensure your business-impacting departments are properly staffed with quality talent at any given time.

Do your homework — er, market research. In-depth research was conducted before announcing potential replacements for Letterman. Beyond internal adjustments, examine external factors that can impact business success during workforce planning initiatives. Performing back-end research is an essential piece of any strategic workforce forecasting approach. Analyzing the talent market pressures, local laws and regulations, competitor employment initiatives ,and compensation benchmarks are vital for a well-rounded plan. Understand challenges that can prevent effective recruitment. Look into causes of voluntary turnover. In order to have a strong plan in place, do the research to back yourself up.

Analytical workforce planning processes are quickly becoming a necessary business function for companies that want to remain competitive in the talent market. Rapid changes in the employment landscape and internal forces are requiring companies to evaluate talent resources and project knowledge requirements to stay agile and adaptable — and with “limited program interruptions.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Gareth Cooper

    True strategic workforce planning or HiPO development strategies entail pie in the sky dreaming for the average organization.

    The average company can find a list of names and place a few good candidates with a decent offer. The same applies to collecting a list of internal candidates highly “liked” by those that matter in the organization and claim a breakthrough succession planning strategy.

    The reality is that for the vast majority, the house is not in order to bring a high level of HR analytics into the game. Business leaders need to first ensure that they have the necessary infrastructure in place which includes strong governance processes; clearly defined and implemented HR processes and policies; leadership beyond selecting a couple names; some what stable business environment; low communication barriers and MOST importantly, employee buy-in.

    For an organization implementing real strategic workforce planning or gap analysis, a reliable competency management system must be aligned to position management.

    If these and other assumptions and criteria prove valid, a great deal of work needs to be done within the HR department to create an environment and accompanied framework upon which to build quantitative HR decision making models to affect change.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Jessica. @ Gareth: Well-said.

    The recruiting “truth that dare not speak its name” is that a company needs a lot less (expensive) recruiting help when they realistically and sensibly plan hiring than *when they usually do things, e.g., they could go to an RPO that charges $250/week to get 225 resumes from the boards and the internet instead of going to some agency filled with dialing-for-dollars newbies trying to sell those very same resumes (obtained from the same RPO) for 20%.

    Cheers,
    Keith

    *To be fair: many companies are so busy “drinking from the firehose” and “putting out fires” that they don’t have time to plan, even though they recognize its value and want to do so.