STRATE­GIC WORK­FORCE PLAN­NING: THE NEED OF THE HOUR

To cope with the rapid growth in Qatar’s busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, most or­gan­i­sa­tions have had to be more re­ac­tive than proac­tive when build­ing their work­force.

Qatar Today - - CONTENTS -

To cope with the rapid growth in Qatar's busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, most or­gan­i­sa­tions have had to be more re­ac­tive than proac­tive when build­ing their work­force.

Many or­gan­i­sa­tions have there­fore found it dif­fi­cult to as­sess whether they have hired too few or too many peo­ple, or hired too early or too late, lead­ing to a work­force struc­ture that might not be aligned well with busi­ness needs and cost ex­pec­ta­tions. But it's never too late to get it right. Ev­ery busi­ness can take ac­tion to lever­age tal­ent through strate­gic work­force plan­ning.

Har­ness­ing the power of data

As for most strate­gic ini­tia­tives, the start­ing point is to gather the right in­for­ma­tion. There are broadly three types of data to be an­a­lysed:

The de­mand driv­ers for tal­ent:

Or­gan­i­sa­tion strat­egy, busi­ness plans and busi­ness ac­tiv­ity vol­umes. It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the busi­ness' key growth ar­eas, changes re­quired in its struc­ture and roles, busi­ness vol­ume pro­jec­tions by func­tion and the mode and strate­gic fo­cus of growth (e.g. or­ganic vs. in­or­ganic, profit growth vs. rev­enue growth, etc.). How­ever, the fu­ture vi­sion of­ten re­sides in the minds of the ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment and some­times busi­ness plans are not bro­ken down into pro­jec­tions of busi­ness vol­umes. In such cases, take a step back and un­der­stand what fore­casts can be rea­son­ably ob­tained.

The pro­file of the cur­rent work­force:

To pre­pare for the fu­ture, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the present. Busi­nesses must an­a­lyse the cur­rent work­force pro­file; skill-sets, rate of turnover by func­tion, high per­form­ers by func­tion, etc. This task is rel­a­tively eas­ier for or­gan­i­sa­tions that have in­vested in the right tech­nol­ogy and HR an­a­lyt­ics so­lu­tions, or for or­gan­i­sa­tions that are just start­ing up.

The tal­ent sup­ply:

Around 94% of the work­ing pop­u­la­tion in Qatar are ex­pa­tri­ates. This num­ber will only in­crease as the de­mand for labour con­tin­ues to out­strip the avail­abil­ity of lo­cal tal­ent. The sit­u­a­tion is fur­ther com­pli­cated by the re­stric­tions of the Kafala sys­tem that al­ready limit the mo­bil­ity of ex­pats across or­gan­i­sa­tions, and the im­pact of the pro­posed changes to the sys­tem is yet to be seen. It is im­por­tant that data is col­lected and an­a­lysed to un­der­stand skills avail­abil­ity, sources of tal­ent, re­cruit­ment lead times (for var­i­ous cat­e­gories of em­ploy­ees) and the macro-eco­nomic pro­jec­tions for other mar­kets com­pet­ing for the same tal­ent. One as­pect of this anal­y­sis can be with re­spect to

the na­tional work­force (at the ex­pe­ri­enced hire and the fresh grad­u­ate level), and this can help or­ga­ni­za­tions run a much more fo­cused Qatarisation pro­gramme.

Ap­ply the right tech­niques for the right roles

As they say, one size does not fit all and this cer­tainly ap­plies to the process of cre­at­ing work­force mod­els. De­vel­op­ing a work­force model will de­pend on your busi­ness needs, but broadly, there are two parts – ca­pac­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity.

Ca­pac­ity pro­jec­tions

This is the process of de­ter­min­ing how many peo­ple are re­quired at what time. Cer­tain roles will have a fixed de­mand for work­force (like heads of de­part­ments); for other roles, de­mand will vary based on busi­ness vol­umes and other ac­tiv­ity driv­ers. Fo­cus on one role at a time and iden­tify the best mech­a­nism to project fu­ture re­quire­ments. Ways to do this in­clude:

Ac­tiv­i­ties and Spec­i­fi­ca­tions: Work­load anal­y­sis, equip­ment spec­i­fi­ca­tions, legal or safety re­quire­ments, etc. com­bined with busi­ness vol­ume pro­jec­tions for the planned pe­riod.

Key busi­ness driv­ers: Busi­ness driv­ers and their re­la­tion­ship to work­force num­bers – for ex­am­ple, num­ber of pa­tients per day may be a driver for a gen­eral physi­cian po­si­tion at a clinic, pro­vided other fac­tors are ac­counted for (time per pa­tient, shift re­quire­ments, etc).

Work­force ra­tios: Stan­dard work­force ra­tios for the in­dus­try and re­gion. Sup­port func­tions are rel­a­tively eas­ier to es­ti­mate with this tech­nique than core op­er­a­tions roles.

Ca­pa­bil­ity pro­jec­tions

Once it is known how many peo­ple are re­quired by the busi­ness at what time, an anal­y­sis of the skill gap can be con­ducted. This in­volves analysing cur­rent and fu­ture skills and com­pe­ten­cies to de­ter­mine whether skills are avail­able in­ter­nally, can be de­vel­oped or need to be ac­quired from the mar­ket. If there is suf­fi­cient time to de­velop cer­tain skills, or­gan­i­sa­tions can de­cide to align their Qatari devel­op­ment plans to meet such re­quire­ments.

What does suc­cess look like?

The fi­nal work­force model must com­prise the num­ber of em­ploy­ees re­quired for each role, split be­tween those that will be filled from within the or­gan­i­sa­tion and those that must be hired. The work­force model must also iden­tify the skills re­quired, lead times for de­vel­op­ing skills, re­cruit­ment lead times for each role, roles that can be Qatarised by hir­ing or de­vel­op­ing in­ter­nal staff and the in­dica­tive work­force bud­get. Fol­low­ing this ap­proach, or­gan­i­sa­tions can gain a greater un­der­stand­ing of staffing pat­terns to un­der­stand steady state re­quire­ments and tem­po­rary peaks and troughs that may not re­quire per­ma­nent hir­ing.

Im­ple­ment the model with your feet on the ground

Im­ple­men­ta­tion re­quires time, re­sources and com­mit­ment. The hard work spent on anal­y­sis will be of no use with­out the right re­sources for timely ex­e­cu­tion.

It is im­por­tant to cre­ate a re­al­is­tic ac­tion plan, iden­tify a ca­pa­ble im­ple­men­ta­tion team, and sup­port them fully. Once th­ese fun­da­men­tals are in place, busi­nesses should en­sure they lever­age the avail­able re­sources e.g. the re­cruit­ment process, learn­ing and devel­op­ment sys­tems, etc. Dur­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion phase, the model as­sump­tions should be tested/ val­i­dated to en­sure they still hold good.

Top things to watch out for

Don't fall prey to an anal­y­sis paral­y­sis; fo­cus on ac­tions.

Don't worry too much about the gaps in the data – make rea­son­able, con­ser­va­tive as­sump­tions around gaps but be con­sis­tent.

Get peo­ple with the right skills onto the project team. Strate­gic think­ing, busi­ness anal­y­sis, data mod­el­ling and tal­ent man­age­ment are some of the im­por­tant skills re­quired.

Val­i­date find­ings and as­sump­tions with man­age­ment at the right times.

Be flex­i­ble. Busi­ness is dy­namic – if plans change, ad­just your as­sump­tions and pro­jec­tions ac­cord­ingly

“Around 94% of the work­ing pop­u­la­tion in Qatar are ex­pa­tri­ates. This num­ber will only in­crease as the de­mand for labour con­tin­ues to out­strip the avail­abil­ity of lo­cal tal­ent. The sit­u­a­tion is fur­ther com­pli­cated by the re­stric­tions of the Kafala sys­tem that al­ready limit the mo­bil­ity of ex­pats across or­gan­i­sa­tions, and the im­pact of the pro­posed changes to the sys­tem is yet to be seen.”

BY SAU­RABH MATHUR

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