Workforce planning has evolved in recent years, from a primarily finance-centric approach – with a focus on numbers of people in roles – to a more skill-centric strategy. This shift is increasingly being viewed as a transition from annual headcount planning to continuous talent planning.
We asked Stefanie Rander, Global Senior Talent Manager (Career Development & Learning) at Siemens Energy, about what she is doing at her organization in this regard.
“While headcount is important, having the right skills in the right capacity and location is crucial for the success of both the company and individuals,” said Stefanie. “We really need to have not only the right people, but also the right skills in the right capacity in the right place.” While the roles themselves may stay reasonably ‘static’, the skills behind them evolve. She is starting to focus on the detail behind each job title: the increasing digital skills required, for example, or a greater focus on customers, collaboration, or service.
Implementing skills-first planning
At Siemens Energy, a skills taxonomy (that balances personal, digital, functional, and technical skills) has been created. This taxonomy has been integrated into various HR processes, including learning, performance, and career development. The integration of the skills framework, self-assessment tools, and learning opportunities aims to help managers and employees master their jobs within their roles while preparing for future growth.
Skills are used for matching people with mentors, or helping them find their next jobs inside the company. They will also be used to match people to even smaller tasks and projects, so that the organization can also become more flexible with internal mobility. This provides the added benefit of boosting engagement and retention amongst employees.
“A lack of transparency and engagement has been a major issue in the past, but the skills framework has provided a solution. Employees can now see what they are capable of, identify gaps, and take the necessary steps to move forward.”
Challenges of a skills-first approach
One challenge faced by organizations in implementing a skills-centric approach is the need to adapt processes, IT landscapes, and interfaces. Older companies face the additional challenge of overcoming legacy systems and processes – and, while Siemens Energy is relatively young, Stefanie still has legacy systems to deal with.
There is also the issue of the time it takes to set everything up to be integrated and work seamlessly across the talent lifecycle. A skills taxonomy works best when applied to every element of the journey: from hiring, to developing and reskilling, to deploying talent in the business. But taking the time now will allow organizations to work far more efficiently in the future.
“When I think of strategic workforce planning yesterday versus today, the timeframe has shortened hugely. Five years is way too long. We really need to look into this from a yearly perspective, or even quarterly. As we launch our pilots, people are increasingly seeing that this needs to be flexible.”
With a strategic vision, a shared language of skills, and the right technical approach, Stefanie believes organizations can create an environment that supports their employees’ growth, while setting the company up for success in the future.