Workforce Planning and Succession Management: CHROs’ Guide to Strategic HR

In a study conducted by Gartner, it was revealed that 64% of heads of recruiting find it challenging to acquire talent to support a change in strategy. In fact, 20% report that the requisitions are for roles they are unfamiliar with. As a result, these roles take 38% longer to fill.

No doubt, workforce planning and succession management have become critical aspects of strategic HR. As organizations strive to optimize their human capital and ensure a seamless transition of leadership, CHROs play a pivotal role in guiding and implementing effective workforce planning and succession management strategies.

By recognizing the significance of these strategies and understanding the unique position of CHROs in driving strategic HR initiatives, organizations can proactively address talent gaps, nurture leadership potential, and cultivate a high-performing workforce.

This article serves as a comprehensive guide for CHROs, highlighting the importance of workforce planning and succession management while shedding light on the strategic responsibilities and decisions they should undertake to propel their organizations toward sustainable success.

Key Components of Workforce Planning

1. Workforce Analysis

Workforce analysis, the first step in workforce planning, is the act of gathering information about the current talent pool within an organization. Data regarding workforce size, demographics, compensation levels, and performance of employees helps CHROs understand the existing talent pool and identify areas that need to be proactively addressed.

Workforce analysis also provides critical insights into the gaps that may exist in terms of knowledge, skillsets, and experience required for leadership positions across various functions to enable organizations to recruit new talent appropriately.

2. Skill Gap Assessment

Once an organization has identified its potential talent gaps, it is crucial to thoroughly assess the current skill set and knowledge required for leadership positions across various functions. To help CHROs identify where they stand regarding the organization’s talent pool, an evaluation should be done based on three key aspects: 

  • Personnel management system design
  • Relative salary levels
  • Number of employees requiring training on key skills

3. Talent Acquisition and Recruitment Strategies

CHROs need to draft a comprehensive plan for recruiting and retaining talent across various functions. For instance, they might need to devise a robust succession plan that enables key leadership positions to be filled by internal talent whenever possible. They might also consider outsourcing some areas of HR, such as employee benefits or payroll services, to reduce the time requirement and cost associated with continuous training.

4. Retention and Engagement Strategies

Since CHROs cannot always rely on external hiring to fill critical leadership positions, they need to devise retention and engagement strategies that enable them to retain current employees. This can be done by re-evaluating the compensation structure and providing a competitive pay scale for various levels across the organization.

In addition, they can address areas of low employee engagement by conducting a comprehensive analysis of organizational culture and benchmarking against industry leaders.

Benefits and Implementation of Effective Workforce Planning

Effective workforce planning offers the following advantages:

  • Improved resource allocation: Aligning workforce needs with project requirements ensures that the right people with the necessary skills are assigned. 
  • Addressing skill gaps: Proactive measures bridge skill gaps through training, certifications, or mentorship. Investing in skill development enhances overall team performance.
  • Adaptation to market trends: Workforce planning anticipates future needs based on market demands and emerging technologies. 
  • Enhanced team collaboration: It fosters collaboration between teams and departments, improving product or service quality through effective communication and valuable insights.
  • Optimal resource utilization: Strategic allocation prevents overburdening and ensures skills are utilized effectively, increasing productivity and efficiency.

The Value of Succession Management 

Based on a survey conducted by SHRM, it was found that only 21% of HR professionals reported having a structured succession plan within their organization, while an additional 24% mentioned having an informal plan.

Succession planning is identifying and developing future leaders within an organization to ensure a smooth transition of key roles and responsibilities.

By implementing effective succession planning, organizations can:

  • Ensure business continuity: Succession planning ensures that there are qualified individuals ready to assume leadership roles, minimizing disruptions and maintaining business continuity during times of transition.
  • Retain top talent: When employees see opportunities for growth and advancement within an organization, they are more likely to stay engaged and committed. Succession planning helps in attracting and retaining talented individuals by providing them with a clear career path and development opportunities.
  • Develop a leadership pipeline: By identifying and nurturing high-potential employees, organizations can build a strong leadership pipeline. This ensures a steady supply of capable leaders who can guide the organization’s growth and success.
  • Reduce recruitment costs: Succession planning reduces the need for external recruitment or hiring from the outside, which can be costly and time-consuming. By developing internal talent, organizations can save on recruitment expenses and invest in the growth and development of existing employees.
  • Foster a culture of learning and development: Succession planning emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and development. It creates a culture where employees are encouraged to enhance their skills and knowledge, leading to increased employee engagement and satisfaction.

To effectively implement succession planning, the HR department needs to collaborate with senior leadership and other department heads to identify critical positions, assess talent, create development plans, and establish processes for tracking and evaluating the progress of potential successors.

Integration of Workforce Planning and Succession Management

Planning provides direction, while succession offers power. Together, they drive the organization forward smoothly and efficiently. While workforce planning focuses on the overall quantity and skills of the workforce, succession planning addresses specific critical roles. It involves systematically identifying future job openings and potential successors. The combination aims to manage and retain talent for operational success while emphasizing competency development.

Driving Organizational Success with Workforce Planning and Succession Management

Workforce planning and succession management, guided by CHROs, ensure organizations have the right talent in the right positions.

At Pierian, we understand the importance of workforce planning and succession management in creating a strong and capable workforce. With our expertise as a trusted managed service provider, we can assist organizations in implementing effective HR strategies and solutions.

Our comprehensive understanding of various workforce management areas like onboarding, employee lifecycle management, performance management, policy formulation, etc., enables us to provide tailored HR solutions that drive value across the organization. Get in touch to learn more.