If you ask ten nuclear managers to define “workforce planning” you’ll likely get ten different answers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; each organization, and even different groups within the same organization, is likely to have very different challenges that dictate what managers need from an effective workforce planning process and strategy. Examples include retaining talent in the midst of fierce competition, dealing with the pending loss of critical knowledge when retirees leave the workforce, and balancing workload with talent supply to optimize costs.
While the problems and the strategies to address them cover a wide spectrum, the fundamental goals of every workforce planning strategy is “the five Rs”; to get the Right people, with the Right skills, in the Right place, at the Right time, at the Right cost. That’s tougher than it sounds because before you can execute the “five Rs” you have to know what the “right skills” are, where they’re needed, when they’ll be needed, and who possess them.
Because nuclear energy facilities and the business and regulatory environment they operate in are ever-changing, workforce planning strategies need to be flexible, adaptable, and periodically refreshed. A systematic approach to workforce planning will ensure that strategies evolve with the business and the challenges. In the nuclear industry we’re accustomed to the “Systematic Approach to Training.” We need to add the “Systematic Approach to Workforce Planning” to our vocabulary.
Having an agreed upon workforce planning approach is vitally important because it forms the basis for establishing the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in executing effective workforce planning. Executives, line managers, workforce planning analysts, the financial organization, and the talent management team must collaborate to build and execute workforce strategies if they are to succeed. Each group must understand how they contribute to achieving that success. Having a mutually agreed upon process is the first step in obtaining that alignment.
Here is one example of a workforce planning model.
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