What Barbie are you?

Recent years have brought a series of complex challenges to the job market. This period has been characterized by the impact of the pandemic, war, economic fluctuations, and political unrest. This has contributed to an unpredictable market that has greatly affected all industries in different ways – especially when it comes to workforce planning.

For many businesses, this has resulted in measures such as layoffs, redundancies, restructuring, and hiring freezes because they cannot or dare not take a risk. Despite this, it’s important to remember that the business cannot act as if the outside world has also come to a standstill. Regardless of how things look in your own business right now, constant adaptation to changing habits, needs, and expectations must continue in order to have a chance at staying relevant when it’s time to return to “normal.”

To connect this to a contemporary phenomenon, we can look at the recently released Barbie movie. The scene where the iconic 80s Barbie (and Ken) roll out from their dream world into the year 2023, in rollerblades and neon-colored spandex clothing, they face ridicule and judgment for their apparent clinging to something that once was.

This analogy also reflects the challenges of competence. Continuous adjustments and updates are required to meet the changing expectations of the world to have a chance in a competitive market. It’s not sustainable to stagnate and, therefore, be an 80s Barbie – instead, work on continuous improvement and be a competence-supplying Barbie!

By investing in a holistic approach to workforce planning, we avoid silo thinking and instead demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development.

What is workforce planning, and why is it so important?

Workforce planning is about identifying, in advance, the skills that an organization will need to achieve its goals and to address upcoming challenges. In other words, it’s a business-critical process that involves analyzing long-term goals, industry trends, and technological advances. By implementing a well-structured workforce plan, organizations can ensure that the right people are in place when the external environment demands it. 

Additional benefits of a well-executed workforce plan include the ability to attract and retain talent. Many employees seek workplaces that allow for personal development and career growth, and by having the right people in place, customer experience, employer reputation, and actual results are positively impacted.

Efficiency and productivity are also enhanced by having the right competencies. With the right roles and individuals in place, the organization can perform its tasks more effectively, thus improving the bottom line. There are no roles that focus on the wrong things and create unnecessary lead times.

By investing in a holistic approach to workforce planning, we avoid silo thinking and instead demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development. This includes economic growth as well as social and environmental responsibility.

A matter discussed at board level

It’s important to emphasize that workforce planning is a strategic issue that directly impacts the organization’s ability to achieve its business goals. Therefore, it shouldn’t solely be the responsibility of individual managers to handle competency-related challenges. Instead, this should be a matter discussed at the board level. When workforce planning has a presence at the board table, it can naturally be integrated into the work of the CEO and the management team, who can then delegate the implementation to respective managers. In the future, having board members with expertise in workforce planning is as important as having, for example, financial expertise.

Where in the organization is the competency framework set for you? How do you ensure continuous improvement and take on the role of a workforce-planning Barbie, instead of showing up in fashion that is terribly out-of-date? 

Article written by Katarina Åhlin, CFR Global Executive Search Sweden
Photo source: Unsplash


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