Wikipedia says that workforce management is "all about assigning the right employees with the right skills to the right job at the right time."
Yet this HR discipline remains rooted in workforce scheduling, time and attendance management, absence and leave management, with a little skills inventory management thrown in.
While all these things activities are about properly managing workforce assignments, there's a whole other realm that really should come into play here - the realm of talent management.
And we're starting to see a merging of these two disciplines, to the benefit of both.
Here are some talent management considerations you should look at when doing your workforce planning, and some workforce planning considerations you need to think about when doing talent management.
Think of it as a kind of a yin-yang relationship between the two.
Workforce management with a talent management lens
If workforce management is about optimizing work assignments, then there are several things you need to consider beyond demand, availability, individual skills and legislation.
Here are some of the other vital factors to consider, which your talent management processes can provide:
- Who are your top performers?
- Who has the particular knowledge/skills/experience/credentials you need for an assignment?
- Do you have sufficient skill (bench strength) across the organization to meet workload demands (current and future)?
- Does every work team or shift include one or more top performers who can lead the group?
- Are low performers on a shift or assignment being supported or balanced out by high performers?
- Are your critical projects/departments/work crews staffed with your best employees?
- Who can you turn to for a special assignment, emergency, etc.?
- What skill gaps exist or are looming in the organization and need to be addressed?
To optimize work assignments, you really need to know the "performance makeup" of your workforce. You need broad and deep knowledge of employees' skills, experience and credentials, beyond their current job. And you need to be able to assess a department or division's bench strength, as well as the organization's overall.
Knowing this information can help you proactively prepare for shifts in demand or requirements. To this point, the data your talent management programs give you about your workforce can help you: identify development/training needs, recruiting needs, opportunities for reskilling or upskilling, top talent and scarce skills, and more.
Talent management with a workforce management lens
If you're effectively managing your talent, you should be constantly looking for ways to develop staff, recognize and reward contributions, build bench strength, and identify and retain top performers.
Here are a few ways your workforce management practices can help in this effort:
- Give your top talent or high performers preference when it comes to shifts and work assignments.
- Differentiate between high, medium and low performers when it comes to vacation allocation or scheduling.
- Give top performing or high potential employees work assignments that help them broaden or deepen their skills, or acquire new ones.
- Ensure top performers are assigned to high value work/shifts
Taking the above into consideration is an effective way to reinforce your workforce management and talent management practices for mutual benefit. The ultimate aim here is to develop a high-performing, aligned and engaged workforce.
What do you think? What other synergies do you see between workforce management and talent management?
For more information on nurturing your star performers, read our Center of Excellence on Developing and retaining top talent.