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HR pros need a seat at the strategic workforce planning table, report indicates



With ongoing workplace changes and labor shortages, companies need additional strategies around talent recruitment and worker management, which should incorporate the knowledge of talent professionals, according to a Dec. 13 report from The Conference Board.

Strategic workforce planning should identify the right mix of talent required to reach future goals — and those who recruit and hire new workers should be actively involved, the report said.

“Companies can no longer afford to minimize the importance of strategic workforce planning and should ensure the talent acquisition function is closely integrated,” Robin Erickson, vice president of human capital at The Conference Board, said in a statement.

“In a tight labor market, businesses must bring every asset to bear to ensure they have the right people in the right roles at the right times,” he said.

During four working group sessions, The Conference Board and Human Capital Center collaborated with knowledge partners — Cielo,, Talent Tech Labs and Visier — to develop insights about workforce planning and talent acquisition. They identified five key points:

  1. Talent acquisition teams have in-depth labor market knowledge, including analytic and anecdotal data, that can benefit the strategic planning process. Including these professionals during the planning process can help with devising strategies, executing better and achieving organizational goals.
  2. At the same time, no one-size-fits-all solution exists for effectively integrating talent acquisition and workforce planning. The best approach depends on the company and functions within the company, ranging from sharing workforce planning data with talent pros to charging talent pros with handling the planning process end-to-end.
  3. No matter what, companies should use numerous data sources and tools for effective planning, including both internal and external data. Programs should include at least three types of data: labor market intelligence, internal data about the company’s current workforce and data about the company’s current and future business strategy.
  4. During the planning process, companies should apply proven talent acquisition strategies to improve strategic outcomes, such as using a hiring funnel tool to visualize each step in the hiring process and anticipate the recruiters, talents sources and applicants needed to achieve goals. After that, companies can use a role prioritization tool to focus resources on the highest-impact jobs and yield the best return.
  5. Ultimately, CHROs should play a key role in the partnership between talent acquisition and strategic workforce planning by removing barriers in the integration of teams and data. They can also implement a capacity management plan to maximize the benefits of collaboration.

Talent professionals can become strategy leaders by demonstrating value to leadership through data and analytics, HR executives previously told HR Dive. For some, this could mean watching the markets, analyzing internal leading and lagging indicators such as engagement and retention and making recommendations to executive leaders.

Being strategic about organizational culture initiatives could also help, particularly during difficult times of change — such as layoffs, mergers and acquisitions — according to a McLean & Co. report. In a time of ongoing organizational change, creating pre-transition and post-transition plans can be critical for engagement and retention.

HR teams can run a SWOT analysis to kick-start the strategic planning process, identify specific priorities and find ways to add value, experts also told HR Dive. Then company leaders can “mix and match” strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, such as using HR strengths to neutralize a labor threat.

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