Developing Your Workforce Management Strategy

Establishing and sustaining a high-performance organisation is no mean feat.  Whether your objective is to achieve better customer outcomes, drive operational efficiency or completely transform your organisation, what’s clear is that your people must be at the centre of everything you do.

We’ve found that our clients achieve the greatest results when they take a structured and systematic approach to the development of their workforce management strategies.  Read on below for greater insight into our approach to reviewing the key components of your organisation design and to developing a strategy that delivers the right people, at the right time for your organisation.

What separates the most successful organisations from their peers – in a people sense – is the capability of their people, the degree to which their people are engaged in their work and the environment in which they are asked to operate.  By considering the organisational imperatives we can begin to establish a business case for meaningful, strategic investment in people in the knowledge that high engagement levels have proven to correlate with better organisational performance and outcomes.

The suggested approach outlined here is based on years of research into the people-related principles and practices of consistently high-performing organisations.  You can download our guide to these shared people principles and learn more about what makes these organisations effective and defines their culture.  In short, these are organisations with clear objectives, staffed by people with the necessary skills & experience working in an environment that enables them to succeed.

The Shared People Principles of High Performing Organisations

Read more

Strategic Alignment Principles

Before we can consider the human resourcing needs of the organisation it is imperative that the organisation’s priorities and measures of success are clearly established.  People-related practices can then be integrated and aligned with these business needs in order to create & maintain an effective organisation and engaged workforce.

Our advice is to start by establishing a shared view of the current state; the mission, vision and values of the organisation along with an honest view of how you are going in terms of performance.   By clarifying the organisation’s Cause, as we refer to it, you can create a sound foundation for your journey towards a high-performance culture.

This phase of work is all about establishing a clear starting point for the review of your people-related practices where the broad objectives might include:

  • Clarifying and articulating a clear vision and purpose as a basis for strategic alignment of  your people and related processes
  • Employee engagement in the process to ensure your people help drive change and buy-in early
  • Establishing a shared view of the current state in terms of organisational performance

Some of the best-value activities that can assist in establishing and clarifying the current state of your organisation’s strategy, performance and employee engagement levels are highlighted below.

Strategy Clarification

  • Desktop Business Plan Review
  • Leadership Planning Workshops

Performance Metrics

  • Creating a Business Performance Scorecard
  • Idenitfying HR & People Metrics

Employee Engagement

  • Employee Opinion Surveys
  • Focus groups and workshops

Leadership Buy-In and Employee Engagement

In order to develop a shared perspective, we recommend engaging both the leadership and broader workforce in a review of the current state.  This can be achieved through facilitated workshops as well as using online employee surveys.  Having gained insight and input from across the organisation the outcomes can be captured in a variety of forms to act as an ongoing reference for the development of your workforce management strategy.  Typical outcomes from this stage of the organisation design review might include:

  • Understanding of the organisational strategy
  • A draft Organisational Performance Scorecard
  • Approaches to measuring the efficacy of the HR strategy and programs (‘People Metrics’)
  • Potential methods of communication across the business
  • Ongoing communication principles established

Delivering the Required Capability

The next phase of work we recommend to our clients as part of their organisational design and development strategies is focused on the processes and practices that ensure they are well equipped to get the right people, in the right place, at the right time.  The key objectives of this next round of work can include:

  • Articulating the leadership capacity required to deliver success
  • Establishing an effective organisation structure that supports organisational success and provides clear pathways for professional development
  • Introducing talent management and succession planning processes
Workforce Design

  • Workforce Planning
  • Organisation Structure Review

Leadership Development

  • Leadership Structure
  • Capabilities and Development

Talent Management

  • Succession Planning
  • Learning and Development Framework

Workforce Planning and Management

In principle, workforce planning is a continuous process of shaping the workforce to ensure it is capable of delivering the organisation’s objectives, both today and into the future.  Some of the practices that contribute to effective workforce planning include:

  • Current state and demographics analysis
  • Future state resourcing needs
  • Gap analysis and resourcing strategies
  • Implementation and ongoing review

Whilst workforce planning is often considered to be the domain of HR, we believe it should be seen as a ‘whole of organisation’ challenge.  Check out our comprehensive guide to effective workforce planning for more information.

Mastertek Guide to Effective Workforce Planning

Learn more

Organisation Structures

An effective organisation structure is one designed around the value chain of the organisation; ensuring resources are focused in the areas that they are needed most.  An effective organisation structure also supports the flow of information across the organisation and the workflows associated with your operational processes.

For those working in local government, there are some clear obligations and responsibilities set out in the Local Government Act (the ‘LGA’).   The LGA requires the elected Council to;

“determine an organisation structure, the senior staff positions within that structure and the resources to be allocated towards the employment of staff “.

When considering the most appropriate organisation structure for the council to adopt it’s imperative to consider the capabilities and capacity required to successfully deliver on the commitments and outcomes set out in your Community Strategic Plan, Delivery Program and Operating Plans.

Importantly, Councils must review and re-determine the council’s organisation structure within 12 months of an ordinary election (and may well wish to further review the structure at other times, such as following a significant change to the CSP or broader operating context).

Establish a Leadership Framework

The impact of those with leadership responsibility cannot be overstated.  Effective leaders create high-performance teams by building engagement, driving accountability and leading by example.  Strategic thinking is translated into action and progress is reviewed and celebrated.

Research shows that high performing organisations consistently fill at least 60% of top management roles with internal candidates compared to around 10-15% in low performing organisations.  In addition then to establishing a comprehensive leadership development framework it is also highly beneficial to consider how your organisation can implement a practical and purposeful approach to succession planning and talent management to ensure that high potential employees are effectively engaged and utilised.

Creating the Desired Culture

The ways in which people within an organisation engage with one another, along with the specific employment & reward propositions offered by the employer, help shape the desired organisational culture which in turn directly impacts both the desire and ability of the workforce to deliver success.

With that in mind, the final phase of our suggested organisational design approach concentrates on the processes and practices that will support your leaders in creating and maintaining a positive, performance-oriented culture.  The key people practices we recommend focusing on here include:

  • Performance management and development approaches
  • Effective remuneration, reward and recognition programs
  • The utilisation of employee benefits as a differentiator
Performance Management

  • Team and Individual Planning
  • Performance Reviews and Assessment

Reward And Recognition

  • Recognition Programs
  • Salary System and Incentives

Employee Benefits

  • Role-specific non-cash benefits
  • Employee Choice Plans

Value-Adding Performance Management

Organisations that discuss progress towards individual and organisational goals regularly tend to outperform their peers.  There are many, many factors that impact an individual’s ability to perform effectively in their role, and not all are controlled by the individual themselves.

Constructive dialogue between colleagues and collaboration within and between teams drives success – unfortunately, many traditional performance management frameworks fail to support these key principles.  We’ve written extensively on the challenges and opportunities for organisations in revisiting and redesigning their approach to employee performance management and we’ve found that modernising these processes can be a highly effective catalyst for change.

Strategic Reward Framework

When reviewing the components of organisation design we intentionally leave remuneration and reward to the end.  In high-performing organisations, employment & reward propositions are clearly aligned to organisational objectives whilst also reflecting the broader needs of the people capable of succeeding.  Often we find clients have become convinced that poor performance is a result of the pay levels or reward systems they have in place being insufficient – this is almost never the real reason.

A key concept we continue to refer to is that of strategic reward – the ‘why’ of reward needs to be considered, ensuring that the arrangements support the broader organisational imperatives.  Developing a high-level reward strategy and using it to test the current practices often highlights where there is a lack of clarity in regard to the objectives of the different forms of remuneration, reward and recognition on offer.

There is no doubt that designing and implementing effective reward programs can be a challenging task.  So much so that we’ve written separately about the best practice approaches to designing salary systems and incentive plans.

For our Council clients looking for further insight, we’ve developed the only comprehensive guide to strategic reward for the industry, The Mastertek Guide to Reward Strategy in NSW Local Government,  which you can purchase using the linked order form,

Deciding where to start with your workforce management strategy can be challenging – we’re here to help.

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