Businesses failing to plan for future staffing needs, CIPD warns

Employers could be making much better use of data, experts say, highlighting that firms can no longer rely on old talent strategies

Businesses are failing to plan for their longer-term staffing needs as they rush to fill post-lockdown vacancies, the CIPD has warned.

In its latest Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey, conducted in partnership with Omni, the HR body found just under half (46 per cent) of firms had a workforce planning strategy based on their current and future workforce needs.

This compared to more than two in five (43 per cent) firms that are taking an ad hoc approach to recruitment and are not planning ahead for their future skills and staff needs.

Similarly, just two in five were undertaking any retention initiatives; fewer than a third (31 per cent) were collecting data to identify future skills requirements; and only 13 per cent were collecting data to assess their supply of talent.

The survey polled more than 1,000 HR professionals about their workforce planning strategy.

Given the current recruitment difficulties that many businesses are facing, Claire McCartney, senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said organisations needed to start regularly collecting data on their current and future workforce needs.

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“Employers could be making much better use of data across the board regarding their resourcing practices, so they know what works for them and what doesn’t,” she said. “This will not just put them in a better position to attract and retain talent, but will open up access to more diverse talent too.”

Louise Shaw, director of resourcing transformation at Omni RMS, added that businesses could no longer rely on old talent strategies to meet their skills needs.

“Given the stark reality that we currently lack the right people with the right skills needed for the economy to thrive, companies need to adjust their talent strategies to meet the shifting demands,” she said.

“Businesses need to retain and upskill their workforce and think creatively about the future of work and how to diversify talent.”

Commenting on the findings, Jonathan Lord, senior lecturer in HRM and employment law at Salford Business School, said that HR has “always struggled to have a real influence on the planning of operations” within businesses, and usually acted in a reactive capacity.

To change this, HR “needs to have a key position on the board or senior management team where they can provide the knowledge and guidance of having a sustainable recruitment and retention process,” he said, adding that businesses needed HR systems such as workforce planning to “navigate the demands of recruiting the right talent”.

Sheila Attwood, managing editor at Xpert HR, added that timely and focused recruitment, combined with employee development, would help avoid excessive recruitment costs and mitigate the risk of unfilled or poorly filled vacancies.

“Employers should also be aware of what is going to keep their current workforce with them. Alongside compensation, organisations should also look at the benefits, work environment and career and development opportunities they’re able to offer,” she said.