Author: 
Stacy Field, Workforce Council
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Strategic workforce planning is a process of taking a holistic and future focused look at your organisation, its service delivery and its workforce needs into the future. Whilst there is so much uncertainty in our environment, organisations can still explore what is and what could be, and make some solid and strategic decisions about who they want to be as an organisation and how they want to shape and deliver their services to individuals, families and communities.

Doing this, with the support of the SRWCI organisational development toolkit, will help organisations find clarity about the kind of workforce they need into the future. A strategic workforce plan is both an aspirational and operational document - it sets out your organisation’s goals in terms of its workforce and the steps it needs to take in order to achieve the workforce you want.

It can include numbers (ie. projected necessary growth for the workforce and/or priority job roles) but absolutely should include a focus on performance and productivity – that is, the responsibilities; skills and knowledge requirements; and personal/behavioural attributes to give you a comprehensive and detailed picture of your future workforce needs. Beyond this, the scope and detail of a workforce plan can be determined by your own organisations preferences and links to other strategic documents such as strategic plans and business plans.

With so much change occurring in Community Services, including the volume of sector reform and demographic changes, a strategic approach to workforce planning has never been more important. There is a lot of focus on the NDIS and its expected impact on community services but we cannot ignore the many other reforms and demands effecting our sector including Child and Family Services;  Domestic and Family Violence; and Aged Care.

Using the SRWCI tookit will assist organisations to explore and self-assess to pinpoint workforce planning needs against a range of factors including roles and responsibilities; leadership; Training, Learning and Development; Compliance; and Career Pathways.

The three most important steps your organisation can take to be successful in preparing and developing your workforce plan include:

  1. Scope your environment: build your workforce plan from a solid understanding of your current and future environments. A PESTLE is a simple tool to start building a comprehensive picture. From this, you can identify those things that are going to have the biggest impact on your organisation, as well as the significant opportunities.
  2. Explore the unknowns: There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ that can often prevent organisations from planning ahead. If you find yourself saying ‘But what if x happens….?’, explore it. Answer the question and explore possible scenarios – what is the best that can happen? What is the worst? What do I think is plausible (and why)? And, most importantly, what does this mean for my organisation. Some simple scenario thinking can go a long way to answering some questions about the future, or at least preparing you for some of those scenarios when they begin to play out.
  3. Know your starting point: once you’ve explored and made some decisions about the future, having a good understanding of your current state – strengths and weaknesses – helps to identify those things you need to improve, maintain or do away with. The SRWCI toolkit is a great starting point for this and will help identify you current state across a range of organisational domains.

Other workforce planning and development resources on Community Door

The Organisational Development Toolkit: particularly section five (workforce planning and development)

Professional development resources developed through the sector readiness initiative

Organisational development modules (Module three: workforce planning)

A recording of the organisational health check-up webinar held in August 2015, and associated resources

The workforce and training resources on Community Door

Workforce and training videos and podcasts on StudioQ

A list of external resources around workforce planning and development

About the Workforce Council

The Workforce Council has a range of services that can support you in developing your workforce plan and your workforce.

Visit the Workforce Council website or call 1800 112 585 to find out how they can help you.

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