The world of work is changing rapidly, and organisations that are able to adapt to changing conditions are the ones that position themselves for success. Megatrends like big data, crowd sourcing, global connectivity, the death of 9-to-5, personal manufacturing, robotics, the rise of the contingent workforce, and many more are changing the nature of the work we do, and how we do it.
Let’s think about some of the dramatic changes that are happening in our economy today – our wealth is growing, and the nature of work changing, faster than during the industrial revolution. Barriers to work, both artificial and real, are falling away, disrupting entire industries. If you have (or had) “Agent” in your job title, you’ve already seen it. The complete disruption of the travel industry by online bookings is an obvious example, but we’re also seeing recruitment go through similar disruption. Recruitment Agencies who continued to rely on their extensive candidate database as their point of difference failed. All of that information is online now, available to anyone, and updated constantly.
Companies today need to, and do, continually re-invent their business models in order to survive in the face of changing markets and technology. But we in HR don’t always follow suit. While our organisations pursue differentiation, many in HR pursue “best practice”. It’s a contradiction that can’t be sustained. We need to both tailor our programs to our organisations (and the roles within them), and to assess their value. A case in point – this week I was speaking at an event in Melbourne to an audience of around 75. About half of those were using some form of psychometric assessment when selecting candidates. Only one had checked whether the tests that they were using actually predicted success for their organisation. That one person? He’s wrapping up his PhD in Organisational Psychology. Connecting our recruitment practises to the performance of employees selected? It’s a no-brainer. And it’s easy to do.
Some of New Zealand’s leading public and private organisations are turning to Strategic Workforce Planning to connect each of their HR initiatives to one another, and to their organisational strategy. Done well, this uncovers the value of each initiative, and pro-actively positions the workforce to deal with the changing internal and external environments affecting the workforce today and well into the future. To describe it as having “The Right Skills in The Right Place at The Right Time” oversimplifies it, but at its’ essence, that’s what workforce planning is designed to do. The real challenge is in understanding what those skills and places will be 3, 5, or 10 years from now. To pro-actively position HR to lead your organisation to long-term, sustainable success is within every HR professional’s reach. After all, we’ve been trained in, and charged with the responsibility of, looking after what most organisations call their “greatest asset”.
The questions for this week are:
Q1) Is the world of work really changing? How relevant are terms such as ‘global connectivity’, ‘contingent workforce’?
Q2) How has connectivity changed the world of work? Or not changed it? Is the term ‘agent’ still relevant?
Q3) How do you connect your HR practices to the performance of your employees? What are the successes and challenges in doing this?
Q4) What is your understanding of ‘strategic workforce planning’? How are you applying it?