Workforce Planning More Important in Economic Slowdown

December 4, 2008 ( - A survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide indicates that four out of 10 companies believe workforce planning has become more important to their organization's business success since the economic slowdown.

Watson Wyatt’s Workforce Planning Surveyfound almost a third (31%) have already begun to increase activity around workforce planning – the process by which an organization aligns its workforce requirements to the business strategy using business analytics.

According to a press release, current workforce planning actions that employers are taking include:

  • Staying the course in replacing talent in all roles, 50%;
  • Scaling back on replacing talent across the organization, 33%;
  • Replacing talent only for critical jobs, 21%; or
  • Not replacing talent, 3%.

The most prevalent workforce planning concern among employers surveyed is the scarcity of critical talent. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents are taking action to address this concern, followed by 42% that are taking action around workforce restructuring (42%), and 20% taking action on layoffs or hiring freezes.

Replacing talent is further hindered by the difficulty of attracting the required employees: 77% of respondents said attracting critical-skill employees is currently a challenge, and 60% said attracting top performers is a challenge. Forty-nine percent and 34% of employers said they were experiencing challenges retaining critical-skill employees and top performers, respectively.

A large majority of companies also report that their chief executive officer (85%) and senior managers (74%) are concerned about workforce planning issues.

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