I’m in the workforce business. As head of HR, it’s my job to locate, attract, nurture, and retain the best people on the planet to work for and flourish in my business. It’s exciting work: People are the engines of innovation and revenue, and the culture you create defines how you do business. They’re the source of your company’s competitive edge.
Yet many organizations, while acknowledging the importance of people to their success, seem to take only a passing interest in the importance of workforce planning, if they think about it at all.
I remember sitting across the table from a C-level executive at a new employer years ago. I asked him about his expectations for workforce planning at the company.
His answer shocked me: “I’d just like to know how many people work here.”
There’s a lot to unpack from that anecdote, but what sticks with me is that, to this executive at least, workforce planning amounted to correctly counting heads.
Such a narrow view is limiting to your organization as a whole and in particular to finance. Though all things workforce have traditionally been the purview of HR, finance should care deeply about how and where people are deployed, how well skills and capabilities are aligned to the current and developing needs of the company, how closely capacity meets demand, and how prepared various business units and departments are to hire, onramp, train, and cultivate employees as the business grows.
Finance should focus on workforce planning not just because your workforce represents your company’s largest single expense, but because a workforce plan developed strategically and in partnership with finance is a secret weapon any company can wield to be more agile and successful.