Strategic planners ignoring the human dimension


Leading global companies are failing to integrate their business plans with their people strategies and are ignoring people-related risks such as their ageing workforces, new research has argued.

Building on a benchmarking study of 44 multinational companies, UK-based consultancy Ci (Career Innovation) Group looked in detail at the strategic planning processes of eight organisations.

What they found was that budget cycles, strategic planning horizons and workforce plans do not operate on the same timelines, with the result that they fail to connect.

HR departments are then left to pick up the pieces when workforce factors are added into the mix as an afterthought, threatening costly failures in workforce planning and talent management.

"The old model of centralised workforce planning is not working for most organisations that experience rapid change" said Jonathan Winter, director of the Ci Group.

"Plans are so often overtaken by events that many organisations have – in practical terms – given up planning altogether.

"The result is that organisations are unable to assess people-related risks. They spend vast sums of money on IT systems that promise total information on the workforce, and then fail to see a train coming towards them at 100mph.

"For example," he added, "many are not taking account of the demographics that will see some of their best talent retiring in the next five years."

Instead of sinking even more money into new systems, Ci recommends that organisations place less emphasis on a single workforce plan and adopt a far more pragmatic approach.

Paradoxically, Ci believes that the answer is to rely less on sophisticated computing and more on common sense - a stance that they acknowledges will raise the ire of the IT industry.

"HR leaders using this approach will be much more confident in their role as a partner in board-level strategy discussions" commented Tony DiRomualdo, who led the research and co-authored the report with Dr Wendy Hirsh.

"However they will need to build their capability to handle workforce data and make projections."