In the same way it took time for the dust to settle on whether or not robots were going to take over our jobs or the anxiety associated with whether you should have a “side hustle,” it’s impossible to predict whether we will all be left with a great chasm in our workforces once the pandemic winds down.
"58 per cent of business leaders perceive strategic workforce planning (which is deeply reliant on workforce analytics) to be more important since the beginning of the pandemic.” – Gartner ReimagineHR Employee Survey
What we do know is the impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. Businesses large and small have found it a cause for reflection on how they might improve their ability to anticipate and be better placed to respond to a crisis or other sorts of significant disruption.
For large businesses like ANZ, the usefulness of scenario planning and complex forecasting models as a means to “anticipate” - that is to improve planning and make better decisions - has been known for decades.
The pandemic has punctuated just how important these capabilities can be across business from the frontline staff, finance, risk to IT. However, it’s also essential for human resources functions.
Research by Wharton University found 70 per cent of senior executives now think workforce analytics (underpinned by the use of modelling) is a top priority. This is backed up by research from Gartner which found 58 per cent of business leaders perceive strategic workforce planning (which is deeply reliant on workforce analytics) to be more important since the beginning of the pandemic.
This is likely a realisation or reinforcement that workforce strategies need to adjust as quickly as business strategies in response to the external environment. Moreover, workforce strategies should be a tightly coupled subset of business strategies.
At ANZ, it’s imperative for the bank to understand what workforce it needs over a three- to five-year strategic time horizon, as well as planning to realise it. However, the strategic time horizon could be much shorter depending on the nature, materiality and velocity of the strategic change.
Traditional approaches to strategic workplace planning (SWP) tend to recite the adage the “right skills at the right time in the right place”. Modern SWP is perhaps more holistic than that and addresses questions like what sort of capabilities will our workforce need at different stages of our strategy execution? How will roles evolve? How many people will we need? What locations will they work in? How much will the workforce cost? How will our workforce composition reflect the customers we serve? For these reasons SWP practices increasingly resonate with finance, corporate strategy and even customer experience teams, helping solve their challenges too.
One of the hardest working and most important ingredients of SWP is its use of modelling and forecasting techniques to detect risks in gaps between supply and demand of labour.