July 26, 2022

Talent Allocation: Agile Workforce Planning  

Turnover happens. And the trend of employees quitting at a record pace will likely persist reveals McKinsey research. Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey found that 50% of respondents are either currently searching for or planning to look for a new opportunity. For the McKinsey survey, 40% say they’re thinking of leaving in three to six months. 

People will always move to new companies because of better pay, better benefits, and better perks. However, there’s often more to it these days. With many people having a sober reckoning with themselves, they’re getting clearer on what they want from their careers and their companies, and McKinsey learned they’re looking for “more flexibility, more mental-health support, and more meaningful work.” 

For organization that have struggled to thrive in the economic ups and downs the past few years, high attrition rates sting. Companies today have to do more with less and better utilize the workforce they have. 

Companies consistently encounter the challenge of connecting talent with their highest-value opportunities. When you look at the priority projects on the horizon, how are you ensuring that you have the right talent to achieve your goals? What are you doing to retain the skilled team members best suited to helping you accomplish them? McKinsey noted that 

“The pandemic has increased pressure on organizations to respond to three long-term talent trends that have been building for at least a decade: on-demand skills are scarce, made worse by digitization and automation; responding rapidly to changing and uncertain conditions is essential; and flexibility reigns supreme.” 

According to McKinsey research, companies that rely on traditional methods for sourcing and traditional talent pools may feel like they’re swimming upstream.  

Talent Marketplace Trend 

Naturally employees want to grow, and you want to keep your most talented people. To accomplish both, companies need to provide opportunities for people to develop and expand their skills in substantial ways (and salaries when times aren’t as lean). The pandemic showed the value of internal gig opportunities where people could work across departments on temporary projects. These  upskilling opportunities benefited many employees who could have found themselves without jobs. 

If you’re committed to keeping your people, McKinsey suggests an internal talent market could help you keep your people. A digital talent marketplace reveals who within your organization wants new opportunities—it’s about identifying talent, their skills, and their openness to take on new roles.”  

The internal talent market approach uses platforms that incorporate artificial intelligence to identify the necessary skills and to suggest matches for the current business needs. “One of the nice things about data derived from AI is the transparency,” notes McKinsey leader Bill Schaninger. “It allows us to see patterns. We can see skills on the rise and on the wane.”  

And if a particular role is not in high demand, the foundational skills for that position may be well suited to a completely different one. We talked about these type of career pivots in a Tribe TV episode. For example, during the pandemic, former store managers found new work as account managers, office managers, and human resource managers.  

More than ever, employees want interesting work and strong interpersonal relationships at work. What if you could solve some attrition issues by moving people to different parts of the company and deploying them on projects most suited to their skills? It could provide the growth opportunities and fulfilling work that entice people to stay, and the agility could help the business prosper in new ways.  

Typical workforce planning can easily overlook very talented people or ones who significantly impact the business because they don’t always have a prominent title. The “Flow to work” operating model matches scarce skills to high-priority work, improves people development, and increase business responsiveness. 

Using this talent allocation approach involves a deep dive into understanding your people, learning their hobbies and interests, and discovering untapped skills and capabilities to align them by skill set instead of business function. It allows you determine the roles that provide the most significant value to your organization and then connect people across the organization with the skill sets needed regardless of their current job duties or title. 

Want to consider implementing agile workforce planning? Visier discusses the critical elements and why you need it, what gets in the way, and offers a top tip for each element. 

Because many companies were trying to keep their people in 2020, some got creative and found ways to create internal gigs where people could contribute to the business and make new connections and learn new skills. The value of this talent approach was seen during the pandemic, and it’s an HR trend that is continuing, according to the Academy to Innovate HR. 

Corporate learning partner InStride explains that “Skills-based talent allocation may mean that an individual employee is shifted through a variety of roles and projects depending on which role generates the highest value.” 

 “When the focus is on headcount costs, and not just headcount, HR has more flexibility.” (Visier) 

If enterprise companies like P&G can use a flow-to-work model — which they have done for more than two decades — smaller businesses can too. (Potential resource: The P&G Talent Accelerator Stakeholder Toolkit). 

Another option to address skilled labor shortages could be leaning on partner organizations to provide agile support. Unilever and Vodacom did this with a digital marketing exchange program 

Ultimately strong talent management correlates to organizational success. And with the current ebbs and flows in the economy affecting businesses, companies often just need temporary assistance. The best solution could be through tapping into your existing workforce or connecting with an external partner organization like Proactive Talent. 


Want to get a taste of agility with your talent team? Talk with us about OnDemand ® Recruiting. It flexes to fit your shifting needs and provides a cost-effective solution to staffing needs.  

Schedule a free consultation to share your needs and challenges. 

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