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What People Plans Do I Really Need?


Today even small to medium businesses need:  a strategic HR Plan, a Succession Plan and a Knowledge Management Plan.

Macleans’s March 25, 2013 issue provides clear themes in “The Future of Jobs”.

  • Canada is facing a massive shortage of skilled workers as Boomers retire
  • The nature of work is changing from “collars” (blue and white) to knowledge plus green collar workers
  • Nearly half of all adults don’t have the necessary literacy and numeracy skills to work productively 
  • Canada’s already lagging behind in productivity and innovation
  • Companies complain about the cost of training
  • Unions are wary of immigrants taking local jobs
  • Parents continue to give their children career advice…but aren’t in touch with what today’s workplaces need and want

Recently I met with a group of senior HR professionals representing a range of workplaces.  Not one had formalized people plans in place.  

Yet in 2013, the number of 15-24 year olds will be less than Boomers for the first time.  (“The baby bust:  in a first, the newly retired outnumber the newly hired”, The Globe and Mail, Demographics, February 18, 2013).  What to do?  Retain Boomers longer (the average retirement age is now closer to 68), fast track Gen Y-Zer’s and/or hire immigrants.

Gen Y, the most educated, diverse (particularly with respect to women) and tech savvy group in history will transform the workplace (“The five ways Gen Y will transform the workplace”, The Globe and Mail, Passing the Torch, March 12, 2013). 

Thoughtful planning helps employers manage the transition and change,  keeping employees productive, clients satisfied and profitability-sustainability high.

An HR strategy ensures value-added HR practices help the organization accomplish it’s strategic goals.  Now that many transactional activities (e.g. Payroll, Benefits) have been automated and/or outsourced, there is more time to focus on transformational initiatives.  Dave Ulrich’s “The HR Value Proposition” is an excellent resource.   

A Succession Plan identifies high potential (HiPo) employees and provides them with developmental opportunities to fast track so they’re ready to fill key knowledge roles as they’re vacated.   Curt Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina’s “Follow This Path:  how the world’s greatest organizations drive growth by unleashing human potential” is a very good place to start.

A Knowledge Management Plan provides a framework for defining, capturing, organizing, storing, managing and, most importantly, sharing information as people leave the organization.

Together, planning contributes to “Systems Thinking” and a ”Learning Organization”.  Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline:  the art and practice of the learning organization” provides more details.   

Planning may feel like shorter term pain but it does lead to longer term gain!