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Talent is one of the most important aspects a company can cultivate, and the key to staying a step ahead in today’s global economy. Investment in human capital is a popular endeavor that companies across the globe are partaking in, the only problem is that many of them are questioning whether this tactic is paying off or not. Positive and measurable are two key terms that come to mind when thinking about the results companies are getting. According to more than 1,260 global HR executives polled in Mercer’s Talent Barometer Survey, talent investments have increased, but less than a quarter of organizations worldwide say that their workforce plans are very effective in meeting their talent needs. Which leaves us with the question: Are talent investments paying off?

Recognizing the growing importance of talent in driving success, organizations around the world are making greater investments in talent. These companies have a strategic workforce plan in place to forecast these needs, but many of their plans are short-term in nature. They may be able to plan over the course of one year, or two to three, but few have a five year plan in place.

This lack of planning is seeing the effectiveness of instituting a plan like this falter. Without a strong plan in place, acquiring top talent isn’t doing them any good. It would be like stocking up on the best players in any given sport, and then having them ride the bench all year. Which doesn’t do a company a stitch of good, except for cost them a ton of money.

Strategic workforce planning is: a systematic process for forecasting an organization’s future workforce and determining the most effective practices and policies to close gaps to meet future workforce needs. It considers both internal and external labor markets and includes several critical steps.

1. Identify human capital requirements

2. Identify critical jobs

3. Forecast future workforce and labor market outlook

4. Determine current and forecast future workforce gaps

5. Identify internal and external drivers of current workforce composition and engagement

6. Formulate workforce plans

7. Execute and monitor interventions