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Workforce Planning | 13 minute read

4 actionable insights to overcome today's top talent concerns

January 4, 2023

While the threat of COVID-19 subsided in 2022, there are still many other concerns that business leaders have as we head into 2023, such as supply chain disruption, demands for remote work, high inflation rates, an impending recession, geopolitical conflicts and a destabilized global economy. 

With these concerns top of mind, it's no surprise that chief human resources officers (CHROs) are making strides to prioritize strategic workforce planning, assess organizational training, manage skills gaps and boost employee retention.

WilsonHCG recently sponsored the 2022 HRO Today Annual Top Concerns of CHROs report, which includes insights from 100 top HR executives in North America, EMEA and APAC, revealing that concerns over future staffing needs are growing on a global scale. 

Read on to uncover the report highlights and four actionable insights that can help you overcome some of today’s top workforce planning concerns. 

#1: Evaluate, predict and plan for your workforce size.

In the report, survey participants were asked how the size of their workforce had changed compared to their 2021 plans and nearly one-half (46%) indicated they’ve expanded their workforce more than planned. Only 13% said their workforce contracted more than planned. In terms of how much workforces grew, nearly three-quarters (72%) said their labor force increased by more than 5%, with an average increase of 10.5%.  

When asked how they planned to change the size of their global workforce in 2023, 60% of respondents indicated an increase, though that was down from 67% the previous year. Those who anticipated a rise were asked to quantify the size of the planned increase: Most indicated planned growth of more than 5%, while the average increase was just under 8%. 

When it comes to strategic workforce planning, consider the plans of the entire business. For example, is there a new product launch planned? Is your company going to open a new division overseas? Is a digital transformation in the pipeline? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," then you need to determine if your organization has the skillsets. Being able to predict your company’s future workload and the number of employees you will need to keep things running smoothly is critical to your company's success. Most importantly, it ensures that your organization can make progress toward its short-term and long-term business goals. 

#2: Build an L&D program that makes upskilling a priority.

The report suggested organizations have made little progress in upskilling since 2020. Only 10% of CHROs reported significant progress in 2022, while 38% described their progress as moderate. Additionally, when asked to rate their company’s training and development capability, only 45% considered it strong or very strong. 

To keep up with the ever-changing demands of the workforce, organizations must build robust learning and development (L&D) programs from day one, which will boost internal mobility. Social learning platforms are a great way to provide learning opportunities in bite-sized chunks, while live training sessions can be hugely beneficial as they give learners the chance to ask questions in real time. Peer mentorship programs are also effective and help foster productive relationships among employees. Providing high-quality education and training programs shows candidates and employees that your organization is committed to making upskilling a priority. 

Upskilling encourages employees to improve their current skillsets, develop new skills and explore other areas of interest. It also boosts organizational agility through enhanced internal mobility and serves as a long-term retention strategy. Talent management teams need to ensure they highlight the employees who want to progress in their careers so they are given the opportunity to do so.  

The benefits of internal mobility

Internal mobility helps organizations reduce time to hire, save on recruitment costs and utilize the talent they already have in place. It also empowers employees to sharpen their skillsets, achieve more in their current roles and chase after new learning opportunities. This leads to increased performance and employee satisfaction by creating a culture that celebrates and rewards employees for their accomplishments. 

#3: Create a culture that champions diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB).

Throughout the report, there were a few areas where respondents showed less concern than in prior years. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) was one of those. Concern dropped from 42% in 2021 to 30% in 2022. And when we look at company size, organizations with more than 500 employees were more likely to feel DEIB was a high concern than those with fewer than 500 employees (33% and 23%, respectively).

When done right, DEIB is a business differentiator, so for respondents to say they were less concerned was surprising. DEIB is not about ticking a box; it must be integrated into every area of your business. 

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas that can lead to a more inclusive workplace: 

  • Encourage leaders to become allies and help amplify the voices of underrepresented employees. 
  • Launch employee resource groups (ERGs) that bring people with common experiences together and provide a safe space for employees to be themselves.  
  • Build a dedicated learning program with training videos that cover topics such as unconscious bias, affinity bias, allyship, discrimination and racial equity.  
  • Incorporate DEIB into every step of the hiring process. This should be evident in your job postings, recruitment efforts, interview questions, interview panels and final hiring decisions.  
  • Use data and analytics to determine where people are dropping out in the hiring process and offer them more support based on your research. 
  • Conduct focus groups on a regular basis and gather employee perspectives on current DEIB efforts to identify areas of improvement. 
  • Promptly address any bias, discrimination, prejudice or harassment that's brought to your attention. 

#4: Set up a flexible work environment that thrives 

Remote work became a reality for many employees throughout the pandemic and it has fast become a key driver for employees and candidates alike. However, 67% of CHROs suggested remote work has reduced employee attachment and loyalty to their company, up from 48% the previous year.

To keep employees engaged, you need to get the basics right. Host daily agile team meetings, casual one-on-ones and companywide huddles so your employees feel connected to their colleagues. Consider starting meetings with an icebreaker, poll or personal question. This can help create a more relaxed environment and encourages everyone to actively participate in the conversation. 

You can also improve engagement by encouraging employees to join an ERG or an internal committee. Both will bring employees together who share similar interests, passions and life experiences. It’s worth hosting some optional in-person events for employees that live close to the office or within the same city, state or country. Office lunches, holiday parties, escape rooms, sports tournaments, cooking contests and volunteer projects are all great options.  

Reimagining the future of work in real-time 

Workforce demands and expectations are always changing but planning ahead can certainly help. No matter what industry you’re in, predicting future staffing needs and assessing how your organization will meet those needs is critical for long-term success. It's expected that you may have to pivot at a moment’s notice as well, so remain adaptable and agile as you follow your plans. Recalibration will be part of the planning process. 

2022 HRO Today Annual Top Concerns of CHROs © report
Uncover how today’s top CHROs are tackling workforce challenges and more to create real impact in their organizations.
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About Jenny Boyer

Jenny Boyer is the Creative Marketing Specialist at WilsonHCG. She was born and raised in New Jersey but now spends most of the year in Tampa, Florida. She graduated from the University of Tampa in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach with her friends, exploring the city she lives in, traveling the world, and photographing birds and wildlife.