Workforce optimisation: HR’s next big priority

Workforce optimisation is a critical lever in driving business continuity and profitability through any type of change, highlights Workday's Pannie Sia.
By: | November 25, 2022

To thrive in a tight labour market, organisations are focused on optimising their workforce to be resilient by building a culture that supports talent mobility and empowers employees to embrace agility.

Workforce optimisation, said Pannie Sia, General Manager, ASEAN at Workday, combines the efficiency of automated workforce management with the flexibility of an agile, skills-based talent approach to create improved employee engagement, business continuity and profitability.

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“Workforce optimisation is a critical lever in driving business continuity and profitability through any type of change.” – Pannie Sia, General Manager, ASEAN, Workday.

She continued, “Even in pre-pandemic times, jobs were changing quickly, forcing employers to be more flexible and fluid with employee roles becoming transformed as they moved across different teams and tasks. Also, HR leaders were already in a critical role helping their organisations manage the work and successfully steering their companies through change.”

The pandemic accelerated this change, as organisations rethought how they operate, including placing a renewed focus on health and safety. With old planning and forecasting models becoming obsolete, the need for rapid upskilling and redeployment came to the fore.

The workforce optimisation challenge

During unpredictable times, workforce optimisation is an approach that allows organisations to adapt and quickly pivot the workforce to support change and new opportunities.

Sia illustrated, “For instance, when employers do not have a complete, accurate view of their workforce skills and costs, when they cannot continuously plan and execute in an environment of rapid change, and when they cannot support growth at a pace needed to sustain the business, significant risks are potentially lurking around the corner.”

“Without the ability to fully optimise their workforce, employers cannot keep pace with supporting changing business initiatives, launching new business models, redeploying employee, supporting employee expectations, or transitioning to remote work, if processes, data, and teams are not connected and running smoothly.”

For organisations to achieve workforce optimisation, gaining operational agility is a business imperative through achieving three key objectives.

1.  Build the workforce operations foundation needed for administrative excellence

Organisations need to digitise administrative tasks and eliminate the tedium of paper and spreadsheets. This requires a single data source leading to accurate payroll and a clear understanding of workforce metrics, as well as driving connected processes and workflows.

2.  Gain the operational agility to quickly flex and adjust the workforce to change

Employers need systems to help them flex and adjust the workforce to change, as well as to better control labour costs by automating time-consuming manual tasks and decision making. It also entails clearly understanding the workforce skills available so they can accurately and quickly adjust, while also addressing skills gaps and planning for the future.

3.   Optimise the full value of the workforce to drive business goals

A fully optimised workforce is possible to achieve, but organisations need to continuously optimise and drive more value from their workforce. For employers with a large hourly workforce, for instance, they need predictive abilities to forecast labour demand and needed skills, as well as the ability to continuously upskill and reskill their employees. The employee experience must also allow employees to designate when and where they would like to work, take additional learning, sign up for additional shifts, communicate with their managers, and generally have more say and control over their work lives.

Driving business continuity with workplace optimisation

As the pandemic has demonstrated – for better or for worse – organisations must be prepared for a more resilient future, one in which there could be continued shocks from disruptions like natural disasters or health crises.

They also need to be able to create new revenue streams and business models, with a workforce ready to support them, Sia highlighted.

The goal, she added, is to protect the business and increase resilience to better withstand, and potentially capitalise on, future marketplace disruptions, fluctuations in business demand, and changes in business strategy.

Technology is likely to have a key role to play as workplace optimisation focuses on using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate time-consuming tasks, provide critical information to employees and managers right in the flow of work, and make it easier to create and adjust new organisational structures to support change and times of unpredictable disruption.

As talent competition becomes more intense, it is also critical to balance the needs of the business with the needs of individual employees. The ability for HR and operations to adapt the workforce to change are now strategic differentiators in the marketplace.

Sia added, “Workforce optimisation is a critical lever in driving business continuity and profitability through any type of change. By adopting the previously ‘hidden strategy’ of effective workforce optimisation, employers can do more than just navigate business disruptions, no matter how unexpected. They can emerge even stronger.”

Click here to learn more about workforce optimisation that makes every employee count.