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Agile Workforce

What is an Agile Workforce?

An agile workforce is defined by not only its unique, non-conventional organizational architecture but also by its specific make-over. The agile workforce is made up of “intelligent workers,” whether internal employees or external contractors. Therefore, in order to understand the intelligent workforce both sheds light on the make-over of an agile workforce and helps to explain why the agile workforce model has been becoming compelled at this time.

Agile workforce

What is the significance of an Agile Workforce Planning?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “31 million people have non-routine cognitive jobs, what is often called ‘inteligent work,’  which consists of variety of intellectual tasks such as technical, professional or managerial occupations”

Knowledge work profession had added more jobs than any other year since the 1980s and about 1.9 million per year more in the recent survey.

These knowledge workers don't come up as cheap, and also their skills and knowledge are not efficiently utilised: “the average annual cost of one which is $92,000, but on an average, only 39% of a intelligent worker’s day is spent when they do their job”

Knowledge work is essentially based on specialized knowledge and skills, and also specialization in the knowledge workforce has been increasing since the year 1980s (e.g. just consider the software development today compared with what was 50 years ago)

The continuous increase in specialized knowledge and skills means that projects may require specialists that are needed only for that particular project and also sometimes only for a part of it.  When such projects are urgent and big opportunities can possibly be missed,  but the time it takes to engage, onboard and integrate such talent into a project could be critical.

It also appears that knowledge workers (especially,  who are specialists at the high end skills) are increasingly interested in working as an independents for a number of reasons. According to research conducted by MBO Partners, over 3.2 million full time independent workers make more than $100,000 annually, up 4.9% since 2016. And also organizations will continue to increasing which in need to turn to this independent workforce to operate successfully.

4 critical elements of a Strategic Agile Workforce Planning

1.  It is a continuous activity

Why you will need it:

When company workforce planning marches to drum of the financial year, Most businesses often needs to set aside some money for extra budget “just in case” people mostly end up costs more than expected. One large company which I worked with had allocated almost 5% of its compensation budget to cover any moderate resulting from an approximate budgeting process.

Such funds may always be necessary in an unpredictable market, but when it comes to agile workforce model that is refreshed on a shorter cycle, it is more precise, and this type of budget filling can be significantly downgraded. This frees up the funds for other  some critical projects, such as learning and growth. When preparation is done on a shorter cycle, it also enables Human Resources to quickly re-align the resources to different projects as they becomes more critical.

What gets in the way:

Agile workforce planning is often spreadsheet-based, with Human Resources pulling out information from many different systems (covering everything from reparation and performance management to financial target). This can take an ample amount of time, which also means that the rapid-cycle planning is simply not achievable.

Top Tip:

Look to reduce the amount of time your team manually pulls data from disparate systems. When this process becomes automated and analytics-based, you can look ahead at how many open positions need to be filled, when they must be filled, and where in the organization they are needed the most. This gives you the necessary time to either move budget around or talk to the manager about delaying the hire until budget accumulates. Now you can also hire on genuine and authentic need, and can respond more quickly to market the shifts while forecasting more accurately.

2. Awareness

Why you need it:

CFIT accidents happen when perfectly good airplanes, under pilot control, are unintentionally flown into obstacles such as a mountain. Many of these types of crashes are the consequence of poor situational awareness. Pilots must know at all times what their position is, and how their actual position relates to their environment.

It’s important to have a solid understanding of how the business is doing in relation to planned hiring targets, compensation budgets and other key business objectives. With an awareness of where deflections may be happening in the agile workforce model, Human Resources can best support the organization’s goals.

What gets in the way:

HR needs an accurate snapshot of the current situation to make a starting point for the plan and to compare actuals to the plan. But, the manual process to get headcount and Total Cost Workforce (TCOW) takes much long. The snapshot becomes obsolete by the time the planning team gets it.

Top tip:

To get a correct snapshot, it is not enough to view analytics from several independent systems. Look for a workforce planning tool that uses the unified data from your Human Resource Information System and financial systems to give you an accurate picture of your current headcount, organisational structure and total expenditure of workforce as a starting point for your agile strategic workforce planning. Functionality that helps us to easily keep track of how headcount and expense targets may vary from actual plan is also a critical asset. This enables us to see how actuals for headcount and costs compare to their values in the plan in order to keep track on how well your plan is being executed.

3. Collaboration

Why you need it:

Skills requirements are evolving at an increasingly rapid pace. Consider all the high-paying jobs (such as data scientist, sustainability director, or mobile applications developer) that only emerged within the last few years.

When the agile workforce planning is done in a vacuum, HR and senior leaders can miss crucial feedback from line managers and other subject matter experts about key skills that are on the horizon. To stay ahead of critical skills gaps, the planning team needs input from people on the front lines: What do we do to get those skills? Can we train our own people? Plan for an effective recruitment strategy? Or is it better to look at contingent labor as a short-term solution?

What gets in the way:

When it takes too long to collect feedback, HR makes assumptions that end up being inaccurate, and there is a lack of buy-in from managers to execute the workforce plan.

Top tip:

Make it a preference to have all the levels of businesses that quickly give input and collaborate on the creation of an agile strategic workforce planning. Also Track whether your plan contributes for completing their assignments to let you understand project progress and helps you to determine what to do in each individual case.

4. Flexibility

Why you need it:

A significant event, such as an acquisition or merger, can dramatically modify your employment and skills requirements within a very short time. The level of fluctuation also increases when external factors are involved: prized M&A deals often fail to go through or can even impend the business. Let's take example how Toshiba’s future was put in trouble after it bought Westinghouse Electric Co., which is a nuclear services company. The unstable nature of businesses deals means Human Resources needs to be prepared for multiple scenarios.

What gets in the way:

Oftentimes, the information is spreader across the organisation in isolated systems within number of departments and is also difficult to aggregate and restore. This makes it difficult to create a single plan to develop an agile workforce, let alone multiple.