drain TRADER

Energy & Utility Skills launch whitepaper - a pragmatic approach to workforce planning for a robust

business beyond COVID-19 '6 Easy Steps: A Pragmatic Approach to Workforce Planning'


n the second of two whitepapers, Workforce Planning Consultant, Rob Murphy explains in 6 Easy Steps how strategic workforce planning can

directly assist businesses as they build their post-pandemic human capital strategy. Far from being the onerous exercises of the past, today’s workforce planning model is scalable to the size and requirements of any business.

The first whitepaper in the series ‘Making the case for a more strategic approach to workforce planning’ was launched in January 2020. With Ofwat and Ofgem now requiring companies to demonstrate effective workforce plans, that paper identifies the factors which outline why a strategic approach should be a priority for all businesses operating in the energy and utilities sector.

At the time of launching this second whitepaper, the UK is being gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, with severe social and business restrictions in place.

Many organisations have understandably moved to implement short-term survival actions such as ceasing recruitment, utilising the furlough process, restructuring, laying off employees and postponing non-essential capital and maintenance activities. More than ever, organisations are relying on their workforce to sustain their day-to-day survival and finding out whether business continuity plans are fit for purpose.

Never has it been more important that businesses have a robust workforce plan in place to ensure a resilient and effective route back to ‘business as usual’ beyond COVID-19, when the UK and global labour markets will look very different to those seen before the pandemic struck.

The most successful businesses will be those that have a clear exit strategy for the current crisis, know where to dedicate highly strained financial resources to achieve most effect and have invested in the quantity and quality of people needed to succeed in their chosen market.

This paper outlines 6 Easy Steps that form a comprehensive workforce planning framework that is scalable, allowing businesses to develop a bespoke approach that is right for them:

1. Set your objectives and parameters: what exactly are you setting out to achieve and who’s the audience?

2. Workforce supply – your current workforce: get to know your current workforce metrics

3. Consider your external operative environment: particularly government policies, regulation and investment plans within your sector and locality

4. Workforce demand – estimating your future resourcing requirements: retirement trends, staff turnover and changes in headcount in different scenarios

5. Workforce gap analysis – plan your future resourcing strategy: how and when will your recruit the required skills

6. Maintaining your approach: internalise workforce planning into your usual business and financial planning activities

62 drain TRADER | June 2020 |

This framework demonstrates that effective workforce planning doesn’t have to be overly complicated, time-consuming, nor require sophisticated software. It can prove highly insightful and make a real difference to your business’s approach to developing and maintaining a sustainable workforce.

Existing thinking, strategies and plans must adapt, and be ready for a different world beyond this pandemic. The UK will also soon reach the end of its transition period of leaving the European Union, with new immigration rules and a future trading relationship coming into effect from January 2021 (as things stand at the moment). This is expected to impact even further on the available supply of lower and mid-level skills in the UK labour market.

In this paper, Rob Murphy advises companies to start strategic workforce planning now. By building a coherent understanding of the composition and scale of human capital needed to meet the new challenges, people structures, budgets, working practices and job roles can all be modified to meet the future head-on with confidence. Businesses must prepare and be fit for whatever the future holds and not remain in their pre-2020 mode.

Rob Murphy, Workforce Planning Consultant, Energy & Utility Skills says:

“Our approach to strategic workforce planning has been developed using more than 15 years’ experience of supporting our clients develop and implement their own processes in this increasingly important area of human capital management. It is based on the concept of scalability – developing an approach that is bespoke and appropriate to the needs of each individual client. One size does not fit all and this whitepaper highlights principles that form an approach that is within the reach of all businesses – from SMEs to global players.”

Nick Ellins, Chief Executive, Energy & Utility Skills, comments:

“The commercial power of the workforce within strategic delivery has become increasingly apparent to investors, policy makers and regulators. As we battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the resilience of the sector’s workforces that that have kept the UK’s essential utility services up-and-running. Those organisations that truly understand the value of strategic workforce planning, and the link to achieving their corporate business goals, will be amongst the winners as the economy struggles to recover post this pandemic.”

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