The 5 pillars of workforce planning. Pillar 2: Identifying Workforce Gaps

September 11, 2012 ddobish

Why you need a gap analysis

In our last post we talked about the 1st pillar in the workforce planning framework: Defining Critical Workforce Issues.

Our next step in this strategic process is identifying workforce gaps and in some cases surpluses.

A gap analysis is the process of determining the gap between current state and future state. Once the critical workforce issues are developed this process allows you to uncover where you are and where you want to go.

To break this down to a personal level a gap analysis begins by asking yourself two basic questions: Where are you now? Where do you want to be? In answering these questions, one needs to be as detailed as possible so it will be easier to come up with realistic plans of action.

So how do you go about assessing your current state and identifying the problems that are holding you back from reaching the desired goals?

Start by talking to everyone that needs to be brought into the process. This should include a cross section of leaders within the organization from all disciplines. I have successfully used focus groups comprised of across the board departments. If there is one specific department that is going to drive the success of your organization’s goals that would be your starting point.

Don’t get blind-sided by the flippant reasons you may be given about your plan without a thorough analysis. Although you initially may have a good sense of where you are headed don’t get blindsided, trust your process. By talking to people who interact with all aspects of your organization it allows you to gain insight into processes and problems that you might not have known existed.

Without identifying your gaps, you will not be in a position to effectively develop the solutions that will rectify your gaps. The major deliverable of this pillar is a clear understanding of the gaps your organization has in both staffing and skills. This list of gaps will assist you in the development of solutions and strategies for your workforce plan.

The major objectives of this step are to compare your projections of the existing workforce adjusted for attrition, with the number of staff required to perform the work functions:

  • Assessment of the current supply of human capital
  • Adjust for variables and assumptions: retirements, resignations etc.
  • What major projects on the drawing board or projected that will impact workforce needs that could cause you to need more or less of the existing workforce.
  • To determine the gap the formula is gap analysis = future workforce needs-current workforce.

While workforce planning can get very complex, at its core it addresses some simple, but critical questions. At a minimum, leaders and managers should be able to answer these questions:

  • What are the impacts of demographic shifts and external factors?
  • What new roles and competencies are needed in the workforce?
  • What is the gap between talent supply and demand?
  • What is the balance between build, buy and borrow talent to close gaps?

Workforce planning is all about having the workforce needed to execute the company’s strategy. Perhaps the most difficult question is about the new roles and competencies that are needed yet do not currently exist. These are questions that any organization should be able to answer about the present and future composition of the workforce, and the skills and competencies needed to be successful.

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list — but hopefully it’s enough to get you moving down the path toward putting your workforce under a microscope. The above listed questions will cause you and your team to get a good idea of the gaps in relation to the critical workforce issues that we discussed in pillar 1.

Our next post will take a look at both these issues that we have covered to this point and start formulating the business case. Developing the business case is to justify the resources and capital investment necessary to bring a change project to fruition. However, this implies that the business case is simply a financial document which it is not. The business case is the one place where all relevant facts are documented and linked together into a cohesive story. This story tells people about the what, when, where, how and why.

About the Author

Biography

Previous Article
The 5 pillars of workforce planning. Pillar 3: Making the business case

A call to action In our last post we talked about identifying workforce gaps as part of the second pillar o...

Next Article
The 5 pillars of workforce planning. Pillar 1: strategic planning alignment

By using a more strategic workforce planning process, the organization has the ability to “see around corne...