In the past week, I've read several different definitions or introductions to Strategic Workforce Planning as  getting "The Right People, in The Right Place, at The Right Time".  It's catchy... but is it true?  There are a couple of long-term trends that are occurring with workplaces that indicate we should change the definition...

Let's think about what the intersection between the Right People, the Right Place, and the Right Time might look like:

Under this definition, the optimal workforce is at the intersection of all three...
  • The right people in the right place (but at the wrong time) might be thought of "The Bench" - parts of the workforce that are not utilized currently, but will be when demand increases.
  • The wrong people in the right place at the right time are parts of the workforce where there is a demand for work, but those people are not the right people to perform the work.  These might be parts of the workforce that are now misaligned to the organizational strategy.
  • The right people at the right time, but not in the "right place", are parts of the workforce that would be able to do the work if location wasn't a requirement.  If the work could be performed remotely in any way, it might fall into this segment of the diagram above.  This includes offshoring, telework, and outsourcing; but it also includes those parts of the workforce that just happen to be located in a different office, or a different department.
It seems that workforce planning should include the work inside that last segment - if the work needs to be done and can be reallocated to other parts of the workforce (productively), then options that will allow that to be done should at least be considered in a strategic workforce plan.

Increasingly, the workforce is becoming location independent - and this is only going to increase.  By changing the mantra to "Right Skills, Right Time" I believe Strategic Workforce Planning will be more inclusive and effective.

posted by Alex Hagan