Re-architecting work: How are organizations embracing workforce planning for the future?


Rupert Bader

Senior Director, Workforce Planning

The major onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of most organizations, from remote policies and work models, to recruitment, training, engagement, and retention tactics.

Business and HR leaders are still heads-down, reviewing every angle of their workforce strategy and plans. In a world continuing to reel from the effects of the pandemic, it is undeniable that companies need to understand the impacts of the changes they are making to accommodate the new norms of the work environment and rearchitect work.  

Broad market changes 

The world of work has changed around us. Two major factors to consider that affect the status quo and our beliefs about what is best for our companies include: 

  • Bigger emphasis on work-life balance & flexibility 
  • Fewer geographical restrictions on where work gets done on a daily basis 

Bigger emphasis on work-life balance 

There is an enormous acceleration in the shifts already happening within the marketplace, particularly in terms of what work looks like, the expectation of workers and their organizations, and changes in the way organizations think about and treat their workers. As organizations find their “new normal” operations, leaders are having to consider how, where, and when individuals work, and better manage the concept of a work-life balance. In the past, a person’s work, life, safety, and well-being were only loosely connected; now they’re tightly intertwined. Businesses need to foster a very different way of thinking about flexibility, empowerment, and autonomy or risk losing their best workers to burnout or competition. 

Fewer geographical restrictions 

Prior to the pandemic, roles were often specific to a particular location and people were tied to it as a result. It took a global pandemic to prove to both employers and employees alike that video conferencing works as a primary means of collaborating for knowledge workers. This opens opportunities on both sides: With geography and physical location no longer a requirement, employers have a new, larger pool of talent available to them and candidates benefit from a wider choice of companies with more flexible roles.  

“In the finance sector, talent is scarce, but the talent war is exacerbating the problem. With offices in New York and San Francisco, we used to compete with mostly financial companies in those two locations. Now it’s possible for the talent to live in Texas and work for a New York hedge fund. That shift is not U.S.-specific.” SVP People Analytics, global investment management 

Key challenges facing organizations 

Organizations unprepared to adapt to change find themselves increasingly losing their competitive edge in the modern market. Understanding the major challenges facing businesses today is the first step in evolving with the times. 

Talent and skill shortages 

With a global skills shortage, organizations need to be creative. Many are changing their talent acquisition and candidate sourcing model from looking for the skills and leadership they require externally, to thinking about how they can build and develop the skills internally. Tapping into sources of potential or capabilities that already exist within the organization is more appealing than ever. 

“Several progressive companies built these incredible talent marketplaces where they give great visibility to individuals about available opportunities. Additionally, they use AI to match an individual to a mentor, a coach, a permanent role, a project opportunity – something really in line with that person’s interest and career and wouldn’t have been visible or available to them only a few years ago.” Katherine Wannan, Director of Workforce Transformation, Deloitte Australia 

People analytics 

Organizations are shifting from hiring according to a job title and description to hiring for a set of skills. Although the concept is simple, the practice is more difficult. There is no standard, global lexicon for what skills match which job, how those skills are named, what the requirements are for a particular job, and what level of proficiency is needed for each skill. Organizations need to embed skills not only into the concept of the hiring process, but also into performance ratings, learning and development, and experiences. The people analytics function can gather big data about people that offers employers more insight about them as individuals, all while adhering to ethics standards as well as data privacy and security regulations. 

“We use skills mapping when we staff internal projects, which helps to eliminate any silos in the organization. A transformation project kicked off within the company that typically would have been led by one particular department and staff. But now that we have all these rich skills and background data, we can figure out who the key change-makers are across the company, regardless of where they sit and their job description, and staff those into those projects.” SVP People Analytics, global investment management 

Technology can improve the process of workforce planning

Technology is a key enabler for businesses and can help all organizations, irrespective of whether they have access to skills data or not. For example, online career changing training programs can incorporate non-traditional sources of talent that wouldn’t have been accessible using a requisition-based applicant tracking system.  

Technology also enables collaboration between teams and a greater sense of alignment. With the HR function in particular, much of the data is highly confidential because it relates to individual employees in the workforce. A shared platform with a personalized front-end can allow leaders to have appropriate levels of access, which means that some teams might only view aggregated or limited data, while a selected few may be given full permissions. It’s a sure way of retaining data privacy while ensuring that everyone has access to the same system and works off the same data.  

The right technology can improve the process of workforce planning as a whole. By eliminating individual spreadsheets and creating a centralized source of information, HR leaders can reduce manual errors, evaluate more scenarios, encourage more collaboration between stakeholders, provide better transparency, and enable streamlining in workflows and approvals.  


The future of work has accelerated more rapidly than anyone could have expected. Embracing the new normal, such as remote or hybrid work, removing geographical hiring boundaries, and greater emphasis on skills-building and work-life balance, is an urgent call to action for HR and business leaders. A planning tool, such as the Anaplan platform, allows visibility into people data, organizational opportunities and risks, increased collaboration, and confident decision-making. Anaplan’s multidimensional modeling and scenario-building capabilities empower leaders and their teams to see the future through one common framework. Companies can increase diversity, improve productivity, and bolster retention by investing in an emerging talent program that allows use of mid-level workers for more specialized work, leading to more employee satisfaction. 


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