This is an interesting and pertinent topic to me; most of my clients are undergoing some level of change in structure and/or processes regarding talent and workforce planning right now (some for positive reasons, others… not so much), and it’s unlikely that this trend will slow down for some time.
In my mind, there are a couple of key reasons for this:
1. Extra headcounts are gone for good. Though productivity gains have started to stall (I see it frequently today), what won’t change is employers’ reticence to add headcount without assurance of specific returns on the additions. Less “she’s good, let’s find a place for her,” and more “he could be a candidate in the future, when we have a specific need.”
2. We’re not getting any younger. Boomers are retiring in heretofore unprecedented numbers. Like ‘em, hate ‘em, no difference. The fact is, they carry the biggest burdens of knowledge and leadership today, and they are vaporizing quickly. Workforce planning and talent management have quickly come front and center.
And as I mentioned above, long-term workforce planning and real talent management are areas that should not be continually outsourced, and I’m a consultant who gets paid for people who outsource this stuff. The harder part of workforce planning isn’t the skill sets; skills—even mine and yours—are a dime-a-dozen. Finding the requisite skills within someone who fits the culture and drive of the organization, that’s another thing altogether.
And no matter how good a consultant is, they just don’t know all the nuances of your culture. Not really.
Certainly, outsource for some of the components: a plan, some top-level directions, even recruitment and individual development. But the strategy of workforce planning, the execution of talent management… no. Those must stay with those who know the organization’s culture, not just read about it in an SEC filing.
But that’s just me…