4 Strategic Tips For a Work-Ready Workforce

Employers today are aware of the inevitability of a brain drain, and its associated costs. Whether it arises from people leaving, retiring from the force or being laid off, the void left behind takes time to fill. Especially if you rely on a tactical approach to workforce planning, which can hold the fort down for a month to a year, at most.

But what happens next?

Predictably, newer projects would come in, which would require you to check if it demands a shift in skills, in line with the type of technologies to be leveraged. This goes to show how important it is to predict the resources you need to drive future work. After all, there’s no point to having a stack of project proposals and unanswered resource requests on your desk, right?

With a strategic workforce plan, however, you can not only review project work and resource particulars alike but can also go through a resource scanner to predict the quantity and type of human and technical resources needed for the future. Only then can you reinforce your workforce strategy on to projects in 3 to 5 years. It would also additionally determine if your existing capacity is sufficient, requires restructuring or training to get ready for the workload in sight. Let’s head straight to the tips and see why it is better to be safe than sorry!

How do you balance workloads and workforce?

The balance between workloads and what your workforce can realistically achieve hinges on how their present and future schedules look like. Only then can you fit in the reskilling micro-learning programs identified. After all, you’d want your staff to give both work and study equal time without one overriding the other.

Intelligent technologies are everywhere and its single biggest selling point is its ability to automate several labor-intensive processes to get us the information we need.  The reskilling measures your business invests in then, is all about identifying which skills are worth acquiring and how a worker’s capabilities and roles are reconfigured to use these skills with immediate effect.  Here’re some tips to check if your employees can be as productive and relevant in the future as they are today.

Verify skill utilization

Skills utilization refers to the percentage of relevant competencies leveraged on to beneficial high-impact work. It points you how your staff is making use of these skills and how they add to the project’s many tasks. It also further determines how many projects at a stretch need that particular skills set in order to determine how future utilization rates would look like.

Nothing verifies skills utilization better than visibility into business-wide activities. And with a tracking tool to manage resources, you’ll not only know if the right resources are on the right projects but that the skills being utilized is helping the work in question stay on track.  In a way, this verification narrows down the hunt for the right resources with the available hours and effort bandwidth required.  It also ensures critical skills aren’t spread thinly across projects in such a manner that while one project gets a boost, another suffers from a crunch arising from lack of time to utilize that specific skill.

Balance work and non-work activities

A prevalent notion is that employees who come in early and stay back late are more productive than the ones who start and exit on time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For one, overwork causes those doing it to give to every task priority equal weighting, which in reality won’t be the case. And for another, frequent bouts of staying past work hours cause work-life imbalances that eventually lead to work stress, irritability, and productivity lapses that impact the rest of the team.

One of the habits of successful people is that they work smarter, not harder. For example, with a time-crunch, a high priority task requiring immediate attention can replace a low-priority task. This way, the important bits get completed first with some time on the clock to get around to the other tasks in the chart.  It makes sense then, to optimize schedules such that all possible leaves, core, and non-core work are accounted for. Doing so restores work-life balance by shuffling work across different teams comprising of primary and standby staff ready to take over in their absence.

Assess capacity sufficiency

If you fall into the category that thinks the workforce should be filled to capacity, think again.

A capacity that is bursting at the seams would indicate that you have more people than you know what to do with.  This would mean rising labor costs without any projects to place them on. This forces you to bench them or assign them work that doesn’t make the best possible use of the skills and know-how your employees have to offer. Conversely, though, a capacity running low on the right skills means your existing pool of talent will end up putting in overtime on a near-regular basis.

A more holistic fit-for-purpose approach, therefore, is to look at your capacity from a sufficiency and skills relevancy angle. Going into the employee database, you can filter out bench-time clunks, skills credentials, role-based seniority, capabilities leveraged on past and present projects and reskilling measures are undertaken. This information lets you determine if the supply of staff on payroll currently will meet the minimum criteria to be assigned future projects calling for their expertise.

Another unique benefit to doing this scan is that you can determine the exact strength (in numbers and quality) of key skills needed or if merely retraining the existing workforce would suffice. Additionally, you can cross off irrelevant or unnecessary skills and acquire a culturally and professionally fit workforce.

Predict future work

Fluctuations in demand are a necessary evil. But, while every sector’s experience with anticipating incoming work would differ, the certainty remains that consumer needs would evolve over time, in terms of the products they’re likely to want and use. Forecasting these influxes prepare your reskilled workforce for the actual rigors of newer workloads.

More importantly, predictions revolving around rising demands positions you to capture the market with a scientific exploration of newer opportunities. In Accenture’s survey, a 38% revenue boost is predicted to happen in the next five years from investing in human-machine collaboration. After all, when human competencies are augmented by intelligent technologies, your staff can not only see how their roles will be reconfigured but will also be able to identify external contracts and internal projects that would need them.

Conclusion

Remember, even if several manual processes are automated, there will still be plenty of activities requiring your staff’s presence, effort and time, whether it is finishing administrative work or simply helping out a colleague in a different department. Which is why you can’t dismiss a certain employee without a comprehensive look into their past work, current productivity and future elasticity(or ability to adapt to change). With these 4 strategic tips, you will have a truly productive workforce whose pace falls in step with a reimagined business landscape.

Aakash Gupta
The Subject-matter Expert of Resource Management at Saviom, Aakash Gupta has been championing for lean and efficient business operations for over 5 years now.
Aakash Gupta

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