Buzz People

In-house recruiters need a seat on the board to push case for workforce planning

In-house recruiters should look to marketing professionals, the use of data to prove their worth and their subsequent rise to the boardroom, then follow suit, Kate Harper, managing director of workforce analytics company CEH Work Solutions, suggests. 
Then, at board level, they should push the case for strategic workforce planning, she continued.
Harper was speaking to an audience of about 100 resourcing professionals at The Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers’ (The FIRM’s) London spring conference last Friday about research undertaken in conjunction with Capita’s Write Research on the future challenges for HR and resourcing people. 
While the research is yet to be published, she said if workforce planning was not as important at the board level as it is in HR, then an organisation would be in trouble.
“And in most organisations … it’s very rare that it’s something senior managers are sitting and talking about every day. So if they’re not thinking about the workforce they need for tomorrow, they’re not translating that to you and how on earth can you plan? So, there has to be a leveraging of understanding from the boardroom down.”
She said to follow the journey marketing took and achieve board-level representation, resourcing departments needed to prove their worth.
“Harking back to the journey that marketing took… quite early on when people thought marketing was the ‘emperor’s new clothes’, it wasn’t until marketing professionals were able to sit at the table and demonstrate how they could add real value to the organisation in hard numbers – profit, bottom line – and once they could do that, they were taken seriously.”
The problem is though, “we’re not particularly good at being analytical” and therefore, “when we are recruiting [HR and resourcing] teams in the future, we may need more people with these analytical skills”.
She continued: “The really critical thing for resourcing professionals is if we don’t embrace Big Data and become data savvy, it’s very, very hard to then claim your place at the boardroom table.”
She also said workforces could look very different in the future – with increased use of contractors, more flexibility and agile working, for example – and therefore resourcers needed to consider the development and think about “the revolving door”. 
By that, she means talent may want to leave a company to pursue career development and opportunities which that company cannot give them but then come back at a later date, as was also discussed by Prof Lynda Gratton at the Hot Spots Movement’s Talent Innovation conference in London this week. 
Harper said the key was thinking about what those people do next, “because you, as an organisation, may not be able to offer them the next opportunity that they’re looking for in their career development, and they move on. That’s not a bad thing, they need to develop their careers, but at some point in the future, you may be able to offer them their next opportunity”.
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