Zurich : Lunch & Learn

15 Jun 2011

Workforce Planning/Human Capital Planning

Arnoud Middel
Head HR Switzerland
Syngenta Corp Protection AG
Ruud Rikhof
Managing Director

Arnoud Middel told the audience human capital and workforce planning are among the top ten challenges facing CEOs in 2011. Arnoud described workforce planning as an integrated and continuous process that provides the strategic context for bridging the gap between current resources and future needs. To help the group understand the context, he described the changes in the workforce from 50 years ago to today and the main forces driving the shift. While workforce planning is an important topic for many companies, it’s not well implemented. It’s a new science that needs to evolve from a quantitative process to address qualitative aspects as well. He pointed out the difference between operational and strategic workforce planning and discussed the core steps for a strategic approach. Arnoud described the elements that lead to successful workforce planning, telling the audience that tools and technology should not drive the approach but rather should be chosen according to what fits the business. Among the key HR success factors are stakeholder management; ownership and responsibility; process integration and skills within HR. To be successful, workforce planning must be a continuous process not just an annual event.

Ruud Rikhof continued the topic using the example of the current workforce planning project at UBS, describing it as a transformation in progress. Ruud told the audience the role of the HR business partner is to own and understand talent; drive significant organizational change; have the ability to talk business and find solutions with the consequence of accountability for outcome. This requires a good understanding of the current workforce in terms of quality, quantity and performance. Ruud showed examples and number calculations, explaining how the qualitative aspect of performance data and getting the model right opens the door to intelligent conversation about business planning. Ruud talked about the challenges and lessons learned at UBS. Typical HR education is not oriented toward strategic and developing the skill set of the HR business partner is key to the success of workforce planning. The HR business partner must be comfortable in the role, have solutions to offer and the confidence to drive change.

Text by Mary Bronson/IHRC Support Team
Photos by James Macsay/IHRC Support Team