Aircraft manufacturer Boeing is using predictive workforce modeling, partnerships with universities, and a variety of other tools to identify and fill in talent gaps before they become a problem, speakers told a Jan. 31 webinar sponsored by consulting firm Mercer.
Boeing has been “religiously” using a chart with six elements on it for the past six-and-a-half years to fill in talent gaps, Dianna Peterson, senior director of strategic workforce planning at Boeing, said. Those elements are:
• a defined approach targeted at end users;
• links to business strategies and plans;
• diagnosing gaps and identifying solutions;
• analysis using sophisticated tools;
• recommending gap mitigation; and
• defining long-range people plans.
Especially in large organizations like Boeing, “processes die easily of their own weight, so keeping it simple is fundamental,” Peterson said.
Boeing employs 170,000 people in the United States and in 70 countries.
“My team is responsible for the process to identify critical skills,” she explained. “We are able to identify critical skills for the enterprise and do analysis on supply and demand of those skills.” For example, Peterson said, the team determined at one point that “one of our gaps was we didn't have any job classifications for cyber skills,” which instead were scattered among various engineering functions.
One goal at the company is to predict talent gaps before they emerge through predictive workforce modeling. This starts with program and functional organization staffing profiles, said Bruce Ballard, senior manager of workforce intelligence at Boeing.
Several factors have to be considered, including predicted business trends at Boeing and associated workforce skill needs; workforce demographics (including skill populations, job levels, age, and retirement eligibility); predicted changes in the national economy; workforce-related policies (including staffing growth or reductions, promotions, and retirements); and workforce trends in retirements, voluntary terminations, internal transfers, and promotions.
“Optimizing the flow of talent internally is a critical first step to make sure you can ramp up the supply of talent to meet future demand,” Brian Kelly, a partner and global practice leader in workforce analytics and planning at Mercer, noted. “It's more cost effective because you're not going outside the organization. Second, there's a cultural fit, and turnover issues will be minimized or mitigated.”
The predictive data Ballard detailed can be used to produce annual forecasts of key workforce demographics, the personnel transactions required to achieve and maintain them, and potential skills gaps and surpluses, he said. The idea is to develop a holistic model of the population of interest and an action plan to deal with resignations and retirements, other attrition such as layoffs, and internal transfers outside the population of interest.
Participate in HR Benchmark Survey; Get Free Copy
Bloomberg BNA recently launched its premier HR Department survey for 2013. This annual survey has been a trusted benchmarking source for over 30 years. The results address such questions as: “How does HR organize and staff core activities?” “How do HR staffing and budget metrics compare with peer organizations?” and “How has HR outsourcing affected cost savings and service quality?”
Bloomberg BNA invites members of the HR community to share their knowledge of HR staffing, budgets, and core activities and benefit from the results. Over 500 organizations participate annually and, along with our thanks, get a FREE electronic copy of the full report (full price is $1,295).
Our user-friendly site lets you preview questions, leave and return without losing data, and print your answers. To learn more, please visit https://bna.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_cViuf4vVWfaK3Up. If the survey is better suited to a colleague, please forward it to the appropriate person.
The plan includes a forecast of “skills management actions needed to mitigate the forecasted skill gaps,” through promotions within the population of interest, transfers from other departments, or external hiring. “You can get a sense of what's coming and invest time and money more wisely,” Ballard said.
For a company as large as Boeing it's essential to keep an eye on larger trends, since, for example, government data show there are 67,000 college graduates per year in engineering, and the company employs a total of 35,000 engineers. “That tells you why we're concerned about the pipeline,” Peterson said. Building relationships with universities is one way the company deals with this.
In the final analysis, “a key for us is, with all the key data we present to HR, it really is about changing behavior throughout the company with facts and data,” Peterson said.
“More and more organizations are now putting in place [workforce planning] analytics--this is now a core competency of HR,” Kelly said. “But it is still a struggle to connect that with business outcomes.”
By Martin Berman-Gorvine
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)