Planning tools are available to help you reorder the previously disjointed practices of hiring.
By Michael Beygelman
Companies large and small must have a clear understanding of their future hiring needs to ensure that their respective products and services remain competitive in the marketplace. Two different constituencies within an organization have historically undertaken hiring needs assessment—HR has focused on determining the need to hire full-time and part-time employees, while procurement and supply chain management have worked on determining needs for temporary or contingent labor.
It is immediately apparent that until recently, hiring planning has been largely disjointed, but today tools and technologies exist to help organizations focus on “talent” rather than silos of contingent workers and permanent employees. Enter the era of talent supply and demand planning, a time during which access to available talent is decoupled from how an organization chooses to engage the talent—be it as an employee or through a contingent workforce program. This paves the way for organizations to evolve their thinking to consider all accessible talent as part of their talent planning exercise, because not all types of talent are available in all geographies. Talent isn’t always available to an organization when it needs it most.
Let’s look at an example of how total workforce supply and demand planning might be useful in forecasting availability of talent. An organization is looking for computer programmers in Colorado Springs. Through a data analysis/supply-and-demand planning tool, they identify that competitors have 95 open jobs in this market. The same tool also tells them that 850 computer programmers currently live in Colorado Springs, and therefore the relative demand for this skill set is 0.111 jobs for every worker. For the same time period, 22,244 open jobs for computer programmers exist in the U.S., with 394,230 available programmers to fill these jobs, making the U.S. average 0.056 open jobs for every worker.
Now we can better understand the scarcity or the abundance of programmers in Colorado Springs relative to the national average. If 100 was the mean—and less than 100 would indicate more abundant talent and more than 100 would indicate less abundant talent—we’d quickly glean that Colorado Springs would score 198 for computer programmers. That would indicate that—in simple terms—it is probably twice as hard to fill a programmer job in Colorado Springs versus the U.S. average. Think about how sharing this kind of information with your business leaders could make your company much more insightful and strategic around its talent planning exercise.
Next, let’s think about how total workforce supply and demand planning might be useful in forecasting potential costs to acquire talent, or potential salaries or bill rates. If you are looking to hire regional sales representatives to sell into big box retail stores across the country, and you learn through your demand planning tool that a competitor recently opened up 3,700 such jobs across the country at a wage that is 20 percent higher than the wage you are offering, you can be a better partner to your business in terms of providing them more accurate talent acquisition and target salary costs. You can recommend that they get more competitive with their wage offers. You can also recommend that they “wait out” the permanent employee market by hiring contingent workers to help through peak activities because the data shows that the surge in demand could be temporary. Having this type of data gives you limitless possibilities to be a better business partner.
The theme outlined herein is that companies can no longer work in organizational silos—HR, supply chain, and procurement all working independently. All stakeholders that touch the organization’s talent supply chain need to come together and partner with their businesses in order to help them be more active and cost-effective around their talent strategies. The tools that are being referenced are neither futuristic nor make-believe. They exist today, and they are ready for forward-thinking organizations to leverage to get ahead of their competition.
The current economic recovery has also validated a demand shift in talent from fixed (full-time and part-time employees) toward a more variable workforce, inclusive of contingent workers and temps. Knowing how to plan for availability of the total accessible workforce, and understanding the costs associated with attracting and retaining workers, will enable organizations to be better prepared to react to the uncertainties of the dynamic talent marketplace. It will also elevate HR and supply chain and procurement organizations to “trusted partner” status, because they will be able to collectively help their organizations gain access to the right talent, at the right time, at the right place—and at the right price.