Scenario planning is a common component of strategic planning. It is traditionally associated with company strategy and finance. However, given the changing nature of work, we believe HR must become a more active participant in the process, with a particular emphasis on skills-based workforce planning.

HR may use scenario planning to inform the redesign of HR models and procedures, collaborate with business executives to develop more robust people-inclusive scenarios, and develop skills-based workforce talent initiatives.

The role of HR in scenario planning

Human resources has had little involvement in the scenario planning process. At best, the HR staff has assisted in the development of scenarios and assessing the proper impact on people-related issues.

This contribution is significant, but we feel there are three areas for HR to contribute further to scenario planning or leverage the concepts of this process to increase their value to the organization.

Including skills-based workforce planning in the process

Once scenarios are in place, HR is frequently delegated to an implementation partner. However, we feel that Human Resources can add considerable value to the original scenario generation process by offering organizational design and workforce planning skills.

Including these views early in the process enables for more realistic and robust scenarios to be created. It also brings a more diverse viewpoint from across several divisions to the table.

The following should be given preference:

  • Develop capability maps for every scenario
  • Using a skills-based taxonomy to define the skill needs, and
  • Looking into possible talent and development solutions to close skill gaps.

Identifying and implementing human resource interventions

The second opportunity we feel HR can seize is to rethink current HR practices using the scenario planning methodology described in this article. HR can use this process to add new ideas into the service offering, making it more relevant and valuable. The same ideas would apply, and HR would need to construct particular scenarios using data and proof.

An HR team, for example, redesigned their employee benefit package to adapt for remote and hybrid work styles. They had previously laid the framework for pivoting by generating numerous scenarios. Implemented a new product once remote and hybrid working scenarios become a reality. Other uses could include, to name a few, employer branding, performance, total incentives, and learning and development.

Implementing scenario-based planning within HR

The final opportunity we see is for HR to use the same scenario planning techniques to identify what the HR function could look like based on the chosen scenarios.

HR has the chance to design a response suited to each of the described situations by utilizing the strategic decisions provided as part of the broader business process. At a high level, this exercise might highlight, in a similar way, the capabilities that HR has to develop in order to appropriately respond to each scenario, as well as the necessary methodology.

Final Words

HR may make a substantial contribution to scenario planning by providing much-needed organizational development and workforce perspectives to help design believable scenario responses.

HR may increase its effect on the organization while also incorporating scenario-based thinking into its own model and processes by using these ideas. By doing so, HR is assisting the organization in preparing for many futures while also future-proofing its function.

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