Forecasting the unexpected? HR are becoming the business allies to prepare and conquer victories of tomorrow


Strategic Workforce Planning is clearly a trendy expression, and it does trigger sparkles to the HR department eyes. SWP is increasingly coming back into the HR sphere as companies are increasingly facing drastic changes or aggressive disruptions in their industries. Over the last 10 years, several upheavals have taken place. Just to name a few:

  • The uberisation of sectors – most recently: online insurance or bank payments
    Technological change – a fear for 81% of CEOs in 2014, according to the PwC CEO Survey 2014).
  • Demographic changes – Baby Boomers are gradually retiring to make way for Millenials)
  • Financial crises – like the one back in 2008. 
  • The talent shortage – developers and data scientists are needed to better understand data in just about every sector. 
  • Budget pressure – for listed companies, employees and profitability often go hand in hand.
  • Policy or regulatory constraints – e.g., the GDR for database vendors. 

☝️ Anticipate, adapt, transform, or disappear

85% of the jobs of 2030 do not exist today.

“The next era of human / machine partnerships – Emerging technologies’ impact on society & work in 2030” – study conducted by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies

We are all witnessing changing times and the need to transform quickly and nimbly when innovation is shaking up a sector. The evidence is in the examples of companies that have become study cases. The most striking case is -amongst others- Kodak, which was unable to make the shift to digital in time by sticking to its root skills for photography. Or the American giant Toys’R’Us, which disappeared due to the lack of consideration for e-commerce.

These companies could have avoided an unfortunate end by analyzing their market, and especially by putting themselves into Strategic Workforce Planning.


🧠 Strategic Workforce Planning definition

The Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) is a strategic tool covering 3 main axes:

  1. As a decision-making tool, the objective is to assist organizations in the  management of their transformation.
  2. A tool which help anticipate changes in the profiles/careers and skills of the entire workforce.
  3. A planning tool to outline skills required in the future

In a nutshell, Strategic Workforce Planning is:

SWP is about having the right number of people, with the right skills at the right place, at the right time, to meet both people and organizations’ strategic objectives


🤔 What are the differences between SWP and EPM?

As a reminder, the EPM – Enterprise Performance Management (Management and Forecasting of Jobs and Skills) diagnoses the jobs and skills present within the company, and implements HR measures to assist with their employees career evolution.

The Strategic Workforce Planning, on the other hand, is uncorrelated to the employee development and really helps in forecast purpose. 

EPM is more a matter of daily execution, whereas Strategic Workforce Planning proposes a long-term anticipation strategy and is designed to help the company achieve its strategic objectives. 

Strategic Workforce Planning and EPM remain complementary HR practices. SWP is based on EPM to define the need for evolution and transformation at the finest level of the organisation: its employees. 

Market knowledge alone is not enough to make informed choices for your strategy, if you do not know precisely the state of the forces available in your organisation.

1992 Nobel Prize winner in Economics


🍵 The 3 steps for a good Workforce planning and its key ingredient: skills

In order to identify the existing, it is necessary to know the skills of the company. An up-to-date skills repository is therefore vital ! Without this reference system, it is impossible to measure the gaps between today’s skills and those needed for tomorrow.

To find out how to know all the skills of a company, more information via the guide to implement your new HR solution, that you can download for free.


⛳️ Building your strategy

Depending on the skills gaps detected, HR can decide to implement more operational actions that flow from the strategy. HR has several levers at their disposal:

Training and development

What type of trainings will be offered to employees to develop  new key skills?


Are the company’s employees wages compatible or aligned with Workforce Planning results?

Geographical mobility

Are there geographical mobilities to be proposed? Which regions of the world are priorities for the company’s development?

Internal mobility

How do you put internal talent in motion? What kind of mobility is to be expected?


Which talents do not exist internally and are therefore to be recruited externally?

🏌️‍♀️To sum it all up 

Forecasting is a difficult and a complex exercise for HR and Boards, indeed it systematically always requires reassessment and adjustment because of fast market transformation pace. SWP is a real opportunity for HR to become a business partner and to bring an accurate overview and action plan to participate in your organization’s business optimization and growth.

So, what’s your company situation on this topic? If you would like to start implementing it and would like to have a discussion, we would be delighted to meet you!