How to futureproof your workforce
August 31, 2017
What does the future have in store for us? Where will we be in five years’ time? Will there ever be a time when there are no temporary speed restrictions for endless miles on the M6?
I would hazard a guess that most organisations will have asked themselves a series of questions similar (possibly not the last one) to these at some point in their existence. They will form the basis of the plan that will see them develop and expand to a point where they can be the “No1, go to, experts in their field, provider of choice”. Whatever that may be. It probably has a suitably important and grandiose title ranging from the Bond villainesque “Project Unstoppable Growth” to the numerically witty “Vision 2020”.
All organisations will have a clear and quantifiable idea of what they need to do in order achieve this. They will have worked out how much more margin, revenue or turnover they need in order to meet the targets that they have set themselves and will be fully committed to making it happen no matter how ambitious it may be.
They will have communicated this to their employees to varying degrees of apathy in an effort to get everyone on board because they understand that it can’t be done without them.
The problem is that, in my experience, generally most employers will have made a series of potentially flawed assumptions in their planning. They will possibly have focussed too much on additional support in the “we need to increase output in that team by 50%. There’s four of them so let’s recruit two more” vein. I would argue that by really engaging with the workers that are already there, it may well be possible to do that without the extra personnel and costs. We all know that the recruitment market at the moment is similar to the housing market but without the clear, logical and in no way lacking basis in reality pricing structure, so why simply look to buy in more people?
Also, organisations tend to overlook the people element. I have had a number of conversations with employers that have told me that the potential loss of EU workers is of no concern to them as they “don’t have any/that many compared to insert competitor here”. Which is fine up to the point where inserted competitor sees a potential loss of worker and immediately taps up yours to replace them.
Or they assume that they have a settled workforce. They have heard from certain areas of the mainstream media that there has been a huge increase in the number of people working beyond state pension age. So that’s alright then because Betty and George will be with us for years to come. Except that the over 65’s account for just 3.6% of the national workforce and while that is higher than ever before there is obviously, a natural attrition rate. 16 – 24 year olds on the other hand account for 12.6% of the workforce and will be in it for much longer unless modern medical science comes up with something sparkling. Which means that they have focussed on the wrong area.
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. “Proper preparation prevents…” etc etc. A company needs a plan, vision, mission statement or whatever you may choose to call it. Clearly without a target then all that can be achieved is an aimless version of standing still. It will come as no great surprise when I urge you to focus on the talent you already have and extrapolate from there when you embark on your plan for global dominance.
So how do you futureproof your workforce? By understanding the one that you have now. If you’re not sure how to do that, then I probably know someone who does.
Oh, and answers that I would have accepted to the questions at the top of the page would have included;
1) Death and Taxes,
3) And not in my lifetime. Who asked for smart motorways anyway?