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Workforce Planning in a Global Pandemic: Is it too late to strategize?

06April2020

I need to be honest with you. Before the unprecedented global crisis, I didn’t really even know that pandemic was a word.

Now, shortly into 2020, a year many of us in the UAE were looking forward to, the word pandemic will forever be etched in our minds. In the course of my life, I have seen the world come together on many an occasion (FIFA being the most notable one of them), but who would have even thought that a small virus could make the world watch like never before?

While most of the events come with a pre-decided end date, for Covid-19, there does not seem to be one in the line of sight.

This poses us with a set of myriad challenges, but the goal remains same – “SURVIVAL” both in microeconomic and macroeconomic terms.

Although many of us may have been fortunate enough to work from home, there are a industries which have seen an unprecedented spike in demand such as healthcare, supply chain and logistics, e-commerce, public safety, construction and many more. There are some organizations that are contemplating workforce optimization and some that are looking at workforce redeployment.

For instance, on the 24th of March, it was reported that Majid Al Futtaim redeployed 1,000 of its workers from Vox Cinemas, Magic Planet, Little Explorers and Ski Dubai to work in local branches of Carrefour, the biggest hypermarket chain in the UAE. While Majid Al Futtaim was quick to redeploy, other industries such as travel and tourism, automotive, mechanical engineering and BPO/ KPOs have not been able to follow suit. So the question remains… Is it possible to be proactive and not reactive in our workforce planning?

This incident may lead many organizations to “Scenario Planning” as a tool for Workforce Planning. It’s no secret (at least not any more) that we e live in times where an occurrence in one part of the world would have a far-reaching impact. As we feel the effects of Brexit, Oil price war, Embargo or Covid -19, it is only prudent for an organization to focus on more than one likely outcome.

Scenario Planning is one such tool that helps organizations anticipate multiple scenarios arising out of changes in diplomatic relationships, technical innovation, government policy changes, natural disasters or change in demand pattern.

The objective of Scenario Planning is not to be 100% accurate, but not to be caught off-guard. Let’s make it simple for you to understand.

  • We can begin by assessing the business response to a change in terms of skill requirements and skill obsolescence.
  • We analyze if the organization has the “right workforce, in the right region, and at the right time”. By identifying the geographies where a reduction in force would have the least impact on the business, an organization can achieve the required cost savings.
  • Identifying multiple scenarios, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” prepares an organization to foresee the demand and supply of talent.

Projecting your company through multiple scenarios can make your organization better prepared to undertake decisions and contain the impact of whatever the future has in store for your business.

Written by Mishti Bose

Edited by Kirk Lobo

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