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Human Resource Planning and Work Design | Assignment

Added on -2019-09-16

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Topic 2: Human Resource Planning and Work DesignHuman resource planning and work designAs you can see from our website, CERA is pretty clear about its vision and strategic choice. This is largely thanks to Mark French and Kellie Lincoln. We’ve sought to differentiate ourselves in the market by our high-contact service orientation and our innovativeness in design and engineering. One area that has been problematic for us has been workforce planning, or HR planning. We’ve tended to be fairly reactive to developments in our external environment. I guess also we’ve been fortunate that the work has grown at a rate that was manageable. But the attention to HR has been patchy, and it has only been recently that the company has turned its attention to HR in a serious way. In our senior executive team, I’d have to say that Kellie Lincoln and Jonathon Simon seem to be the most switched on when it comes to matters HR; but Rachel Amaro and Lane Scowcroft are lukewarm. I suspect that these two aren’t really very interested in my role as HR Manager, though they’ve never said it in so many words. Susumu Takada, the Manager, Finance, Legal and Administration, is supportive although I’m not sure how much he really gets what HR is about beyond payroll and administrative staffing transactions.I decided some time ago to bite the bullet on workforce planning, especially after doing some informal canvassing of industry figures and our own people about CERA’s prospects in the next five years or so. I thought it best to meet with each of the managers separately to test the wind before going too far. I decided to start off with Kellie and Jonathon, the two most switched on people.”“We met over a coffee at the cafe just near our building. Kellie Lincoln was pretty impressive, I must say. She had the figures on projected demand just about at her fingertips, and she could see the need for CERA to move beyond its core metropolitan footprint. She could also see that as Lane’s work on smart structures took off, the skills set of her team would need to diversify. In particular, she spoke of the need for a stronger environmental engineering focus in our people, as well as needing an adaptivecapability to work on specific and unique engineering challenges faced in rural areas if CERA went down the path of moving outside greater Sydney.”“Jonathon Simon echoed Kellie’s views, especially on the need for environmental engineering capability. He also pointed to the need for his people to become a lot smarter at doing more sophisticated environmental impact assessments involving a broader range of stakeholders. Although he was fairly confident that his group was well positioned for some of the challenges ahead, he was cautious because the planning division was a small, tight team and there wasn’t room for mismatches between demand and supply of professional skills.”
“Things went differently when I met with Rachel Amaro and Lane Scowcroft. I met with each one separately in their offices. Rachel was cool towards the idea of investing the time and effort in developing a workforce plan for CERA.”“Israel, we’ve managed pretty well for several years; why do we need this now?.... No offence, but it seems that since you’ve joined us, we’re suddenly ramping up the work that we have to doin HR. I mean, we are the front-facing groups that pull in the business, and your people are creating extra work for us and pushing more overhead on to us. I really don’t see the need for this extra work."No way. I know what I’ve got, and I think I know what I need. If I need people, I know whom to go to. The way things are going, I reckon we will need to grow a tad more in the next 12 months. Short answer: I have a plan and I don’t think CERA needs this workers planning, or whatever it is. Now, is there anything else?”0.As for Susumu, well he was broadly in support. He’s doesn’t seem to be all that cluey on HR matters, but he is something of an ally, I guess, and he doesn’t want to rock the boat anyways. Mark French had the ‘casting vote’, and with Kellie and Jonathon on side it was pretty much a fait accompli that CERA was on its way to developing its first workforce plan. Unfortunately, having come this far, things got worse before they got better.My team and I had had several meetings to work out how we would tackle this. Basically, our approach was to keep it simple – a four stage process:Stage 1 Gather external market data on potential demand under two scenarios (greaterSydney only, and expansion into regional NSW while continuing to grow in the greater Sydney markets that we were already working in). The data we had was a bit 'rubbery' and somewhat dated, but it was the best we could get.Stage 2: Run a workshop with the managers and their 2ICs to try to get a fix on translating the demand numbers into staffing. The managers had an uneven understanding of how to do this, but we muddled through and came up with some resasonable 'guesstimates' (something is better than nothing, perhaps).Stage 3 Take an inventory of numbers, skills and demographics in our current staffing.Stage 4: Analyse the gap/s and work out how to deal with them. Look at options; you know, if there is a surplus or a shortage, and so on. The usual textbook approach.
Bottom line is that we did fairly well in stage 1, but things unravelled pretty fast thereafter. The workshop made some progress, but there was too much discussion on the interpretation of the demand numbers and no one really knew how to turn these into staffing. In hindsight, I think we tried to move too quickly from potential customer demand to staffing demand, and we didn’t explain well how to estimate labour demand from consumer demand. Stage 3 was ok, but we soon realised how weak the information on our own people was – poor quality, too difficult to extract and too difficultto analyse. This made Stage 4 highly suspect. All in all, I’d say that there was potential in our first attempt at workforce planning, but not a great deal was achieved. I guess the other thing I’d say in reflection is that we really didn’t have a good fix on how our strategy engaged with the projected consumer demand estimates – we developed these numbers by applying a factor (based on the historical demand pattern) to projected industry spend on infrastructure projects for the two geographic scenarios. I think we could have done better....”“Even though I wasn’t all that happy with this workshop, I was really pleased when Kellie Lincoln and Jonathon Simon called me aside after the session and invited my team to run a more detailed workforce planning session with the Civil Engineering and Planning Divisions. We followed a similar process covering a five year horizon, but we went in better prepared with a more structured process that used a combination of statistical methods and expert judgments. We first looked at labour demand using expert judgment based on the projected work coming in and the gut feeling of staff in the two divisions about future work. This was used to develop a five year projection of staffing; although we really weren't all that certain about future projects beyond about one year. This was all pretty new to the managers.They weren't really used to thinking beyond about one year ahead, because the work was always coming in. (In hindsight, we should have involved Mark French, but he wasn't available.) We then discussed theimplications of this and did some reality testing under different plausible scenarios, including expanding the company’s reach into regional NSW. Next, we did some basic statistical analysis of staffing flows using ‘cleaned up’ information from our HR system together with anecdotal information. We developed a transition matrix. So, here are theinitial results of that workshop. More work is needed now to analyse the numbers and work on goal-setting and action planning....”
Human resource planningIn the assessment task for this topic you will be evaluating the methods used in this pilotHR planning exercise. You will then offer recommendations on ways to improve the methods. But first we will cover the key concepts that you need to understand and applyusing Chapter 7 of Kramar et al. (2014) and some additional resources.Learning activity 1From your reading of the CERA story, what might be some gaps in the methods used by Israel and his people to carry out the HR planning pilot study?Human resource planning is the process through which organisational goals are translated into HR goals concerning staffing levels and allocation. From these HR goals,an integrated set of HR policies and programs can be developed (Kramar et al. 2014, p.210). There are some signals to pay attention to here. Firstly, note that human resource planning is not context-free – it directly articulates with organisational goals. Second, the primary or direct outcome is a set of HR goals for the whole organisation, or for part of the organisation. Third, this cascades down to policy and programs in specific HR

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