Research carried out by recruitment firm Berwick Talent Solutions, has found that just three per cent of businesses have an embedded strategic workforce plan (SWP) – a process that encourages a proactive approach to understanding future workforce needs.
SWP is the method used to help firms understand their recruitment needs of the future in-line with business strategy. The process aims to tackle some of the challenges faced by operational, reactive hiring within a 12-month period by helping organisations to map out two to three years and beyond to hire more effectively.
Of the 200 HR and talent acquisition professionals surveyed, small and medium-sized firms showed the greatest signs of business confidence with 84 per cent reporting peak expansion or ambition to grow. At the other end of the spectrum, the data highlighted some aggressive growth trends among larger corporates with between 20,000 – 50,000 employees. Echoing the aspirations, 87 per cent of all respondents plan to hire more or the same as they did in 2016/17, yet the data suggests on a reactive basis rather than part of a strategic long-term plan.
When examining the difficulties in embedding SWP into their operations – a lack of time, resource and understanding were cited as the most common barriers to adoption. In the not-for-profit sector, a unanimous 100 per cent of businesses cited a lack of knowledge or resource as the biggest challenge, while firms in the automotive, engineering and manufacturing industry reported challenges around communicating the definition and value of SWP to key stakeholders, preventing decisions to adopt it. Only 11 per cent of respondents said they had considered using an external consultancy to support SWP, despite resource constraints representing the biggest barrier to implementation.
Unlike operational planning, SWP aligns with business priorities to support long-term execution of growth strategy.
“In today’s volatile and uncertain markets, businesses are constantly trying to navigate the evolving challenges they face, while also staying ahead of the competition,’ said Kate Parker, head of Berwick Talent Solutions. “It’s clear that many understand the value of having a more future-focused workforce hiring plan that aligns with the business strategy, not one that just reacts to immediate needs in desperation, which often doesn’t see them secure the best people fit for the job.
“SWP can help firms see around corners, mitigate risk and prepare for different scenarios, something that can pay dividends in the long-term. Put simply, it helps firms achieve the ‘five rights’ – getting the right number of people with the right skills, in the right place at the right time and for the right cost.”