Our clients are sometimes concerned that the term Strategic Workforce Planning will be perceived by the business as another HR fad. As an alternative, we suggest they emphasize its advantages as a strategy for mitigating ‘talent management risk’ or as suggested in Jon Ingham's Strategic Human Capital Management (HCM) Blog, ‘human capital risk’. Strategic Workforce Planning is a risk mitigation strategy in itself, because without it, an organization is left to the vagaries of its environmental factors.

Risk is a fundamental part of life. Wherever there is risk, there is uncertainty and of course, there is no greater uncertainty than the future. However, as Jon rightly observes, uncertainty in the business context is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. There are tools to assist with risk mitigation, as there are tools that assist with exploring the future and therefore reducing the level of uncertainty. Strategic Workforce Planning incorporates these tools to present to the business possible, probable and potential futures, and most importantly, it facilitates the articulation of a preferred future.

The important point to understand is that organizations cannot truly appreciate their risk environment without a representation of where they are today (current State), where they are heading if things don’t change (No Change Future State) and where they want to be (Targeted Future). These three fundamental states of Strategic Workforce Planning enable the organization to assess ‘talent management/human capital risk’ by identifying the gaps between the workforce an organisation has and the workforce that an organisation needs. These gaps represent the risk of not being able to deliver on the business plan. By then mapping actions that will assist in closing the gaps, the risk mitigation begins.