HR Best Practices
HR Best Practices

Workforce Planning and Organisational Redesign

Through our daily work with over 1500 organisations, we see many examples of innovative thinking in HR. In this series of 14 best practices we define true “best practices” in HR nowadays. In this twelfth case study of this series we will focus on Workforce Planning and Organisational Redesign with three examples of Top Employers within the Technology, Food Production-, and Media Industry.

Top Employers take innovative, proactive approaches to planning their future workforce needs – keeping employees well informed so that they are ready to adapt.

Workforce Planning and Organisational Redesign in the Technology Industry

This Top Employer (Global, 200,000+ employees) is going through a major change in its industry. In an effort to prepare for its future workforce needs, it conducts a gap analysis every quarter to analyse the supply and demand of critical skills needed within its industry. To conduct this exercise, the company uses a variety of inputs including its own Big Data (employee self-assessments) as well as industry trends and business modelling forecasts.

To date, the employer has mapped out an inventory of 2500 skills that currently exist within its organisation worldwide. These include 338 skills that have been classified as ‘niche’, meaning they are in demanded in the current labour market, as well as 25 ‘skills of the future’. So far, an impressive 97.5% of employees have updated their skills data in the system, giving the Top Employer a rich resource and employee understanding. The company has developed training programmes to match the skills gaps. Out of the total of 338 skills identified as ‘niche’, 50% of these now have dedicated training programmes to help upskill employees that have the potential to gain those specific skills. In addition to this, the company is also developing actions to retain those employees who have are talented in these skills. This is an excellent example of connecting the dots between different HR disciplines (recruitment, training and development) to shape the moulding of valued employees.

Workforce Planning and Organisational Redesign in the Food Production Industry

As this Top Employer (Global, 20,000 employees) is currently going through a period of huge transformation, it has decided to implement a freeze on external hiring. Whenever an existing role becomes vacant, HR requests that the line manager justifies why the role needs replacing, to assess the business impact if the position does go unfilled. If a position urgently needs to be filled, the company then looks to hire internally. While the hiring freeze might feel like stunted growth’ for now, the company is working in parallel on a positive output which focuses on the competencies/role types it needs for its workforce in the future. Related to that, it is offering information and training to its current employees so that they can prepare to step into these roles. The employer measures the results of this approach in several ways. Firstly, it measured a large rise in internal mobility as the number of employees making internal career moves has tripled over the past year. Secondly, some employees whose positions were at risk in the interim, have already been moved into new roles that fit future needs. As training for the new position is paid for by the relevant department, this shows that the organisation is taking more risks on moving people outside of their comfort zones. The third effect has been a redesign of the organisation. Some tasks have been externalised, redirecting the role of employees to focus each person on their core activities at a higher responsibility and value-added level.

Workforce Planning and Organisational Redesign in the Media Industry

Operating in a rapidly evolving sector of the media industry, this Top Employer (Europe, 4000 employees) has gone through several reorganisations over recent years with more changes in sight. As a part of planning its future workforce needs, the employer has negotiated an agreement with its trade-union partners to make its future workforce needs fully transparent for employees, including the expected impacts on jobs and competencies. 

The agreement means each employee’s professional evolution is placed at the heart of the upcoming changes and the employer offers supporting tools to accompany each person’s career implications (inside or outside the company). Starting at the HQ - and then rolled out to different regional hubs in France - the employer has kicked off a communications campaign to advise its employees about the jobs and skill profiles that will either decrease or increase in demand. For those job profiles that will not be in current high demand, the employer aims to connect people with potential opportunities to retrain or move them to other departments on a voluntary basis. It also runs internal events where employees can find out about the ‘field of opportunities’, with a focus on future competencies, future career paths as well as employability, including opportunities that may be available in the external labour market. 

The reorganisation will be a multi-year transformation. So far, 150 employees in “low-demand jobs” have met individually with HR, of which 15 have already been repositioned voluntarily. Others have been warned that their current jobs will be in danger if they stay in those roles. While this is a tough message to share, the proactive approach will hopefully minimise the impact of these changes in the workforce and allow their people to ‘own’ the change rather than be ‘prisoners’ of it.

This is a good example of proactive workforce planning which puts people at the heart of the transformation. Subject to local labour laws, this is a best practice that could be applied in many countries for companies going through internal reorganisations.

Our Conclusion

Top Employers understand that with all of changes happening in the world around us, businesses will have major recruitment, training and development challenges in the upcoming years. We like this best practice from the technology company because the employer is leveraging its own people data as an ingredient in shaping the HR inventions that arise from the skills-gap analysis. This kind of data-driven approach is particularly well suited to a technology firm, but could just as easily be replicated by employers in other industries. It is important that the employee data used for such an exercise is reliable, to make sure the root causes of the skills gaps are properly addressed. 

For companies planning reorganisations, we consider the example above to be an interesting template for the future. We believe that transparency is the key ingredient and the sharing of information in a timely fashion will make employees aware of the changes coming their way. Trusted cooperation with trade unions, strong communication and a true commitment to transparency at executive level are key factors in making such an approach successful. 

Curious about the previous topic we've discussed in this series of case studies? Gain more insights on Work-life Balance and Well-being