Human Resource Planning and Work Design | Assignment
Added on - Sep 2019
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Topic 2: Human Resource Planning andWork DesignHuman resource planning and work designAs you can see from our website, CERA is pretty clear about its vision and strategicchoice. This is largely thanks toMark FrenchandKellie Lincoln. We’ve sought todifferentiate ourselves in the market by our high-contact service orientation and ourinnovativeness in design and engineering. One area that has been problematic for ushas been workforce planning, or HR planning. We’ve tended to be fairly reactive todevelopments in our external environment. I guess also we’ve been fortunate that thework has grown at a rate that was manageable. But the attention to HR has beenpatchy, and it has only been recently that the company has turned its attention to HR ina serious way. In our senior executive team, I’d have to say that Kellie Lincoln andJonathon Simonseem to be the most switched on when it comes to matters HR; butRachel AmaroandLane Scowcroftare lukewarm. I suspect that these two aren’treally very interested in my role as HR Manager, though they’ve never said it in somany words.Susumu Takada, the Manager, Finance, Legal and Administration, issupportive although I’m not sure how much he really gets what HR is about beyondpayroll and administrative staffing transactions.I decided some time ago to bite the bullet on workforce planning, especially after doingsome informal canvassing of industry figures and our own people about CERA’sprospects in the next five years or so. I thought it best to meet with each of themanagers separately to test the wind before going too far. I decided to start off withKellie and Jonathon, the two most switched on people.”“We met over a coffee at the cafe just near our building. Kellie Lincoln was prettyimpressive, I must say. She had the figures on projected demand just about at herfingertips, and she could see the need for CERA to move beyond its core metropolitanfootprint. She could also see that as Lane’s work on smart structures took off, the skillsset of her team would need to diversify. In particular, she spoke of the need for astronger environmental engineering focus in our people, as well as needing an adaptivecapability to work on specific and unique engineering challenges faced in rural areas ifCERA went down the path of moving outside greater Sydney.”“Jonathon Simon echoed Kellie’s views, especially on the need for environmentalengineering capability. He also pointed to the need for his people to become a lotsmarter at doing more sophisticated environmental impact assessments involving abroader range of stakeholders. Although he was fairly confident that his group was wellpositioned for some of the challenges ahead, he was cautious because the planningdivision was a small, tight team and there wasn’t room for mismatches betweendemand and supply of professional skills.”
“Things went differently when I met with Rachel Amaro and Lane Scowcroft. I met witheach one separately in their offices. Rachel was cool towards the idea of investing thetime 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 arecreating extra work for us and pushing more overhead on to us. I really don’t see the need forthis 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 togo to. The way things are going, I reckon we will need to grow a tad more in the next 12months. Short answer: I have a plan and I don’t think CERA needs this workers planning, orwhatever 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 clueyon HR matters, but he is something of an ally, I guess, and he doesn’t want to rock theboat anyways. Mark French had the ‘casting vote’, and with Kellie and Jonathon onside it was pretty much a fait accompli that CERA was on its way to developing its firstworkforce plan. Unfortunately, having come this far, things got worse before they gotbetter.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 greaterSydney 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 ontranslating the demand numbers into staffing. The managers had an unevenunderstanding of how to do this, but we muddled through and came up with someresasonable '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; youknow, 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 fastthereafter. The workshop made some progress, but there was too much discussion onthe interpretation of the demand numbers and no one really knew how to turn theseinto staffing. In hindsight, I think we tried to move too quickly from potential customerdemand to staffing demand, and we didn’t explain well how to estimate labour demandfrom consumer demand. Stage 3 was ok, but we soon realised how weak theinformation 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 potentialin our first attempt at workforce planning, but not a great deal was achieved. I guessthe other thing I’d say in reflection is that we really didn’t have a good fix on how ourstrategy engaged with the projected consumer demand estimates – we developedthese numbers by applying a factor (based on the historical demand pattern) toprojected industry spend on infrastructure projects for the two geographic scenarios. Ithink we could have done better....”“Even though I wasn’t all that happy with this workshop, I was really pleased whenKellie Lincoln and Jonathon Simon called me aside after the session and invited myteam to run a more detailed workforce planning session with the Civil Engineering andPlanning Divisions. We followed a similar process covering a five year horizon, but wewent in better prepared with a more structured process that used a combination ofstatistical methods and expert judgments. We first looked at labour demand usingexpert judgment based on the projected work coming in and the gut feeling of staff inthe two divisions about future work. This was used to develop a five year projection ofstaffing; although we really weren't all that certain about future projects beyond aboutone year. This was all pretty new to the managers.They weren't really used to thinkingbeyond 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 basicstatistical analysis of staffing flows using ‘cleaned up’ information from our HR systemtogether 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 andwork 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 themethods.But firstwe 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 Israeland his people to carry out the HR planning pilot study?Human resource planning isthe process through which organisational goals aretranslated 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 resourceplanning 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 partof the organisation. Third, this cascades down to policy and programs in specific HR