4 step approach to building a workforce ecosystem of the future

4 step approach to building a workforce ecosystem of the future

Strategic workforce planning with agility at the forefront helps businesses close skill gaps without necessarily increasing headcount. 

Companies either reskill internal employees or leverage on-demand talent acquisition platforms to support short-term or long-term goals. Either of these strategies will help drive innovation, provide new perspectives and skill sets, and create impact without extensive onboarding or time lost training. 

Here’s how to do it as an organization. 

1. Bring Everyone to the Table

Successful strategic workforce planning starts with assessing the company’s organizational strategy as a whole and setting a long-term strategic direction. Leaders across functions should be involved in this journey from the beginning. 

Remember, strategic workforce planning isn’t just an HR function. Business leaders must develop initiatives as a team that plays into the vision of creating a new strategy for workforce development and planning. 

Involving each department allows the company to understand critical  goals and objectives and how the workforce needs to align and adjust to ensure they’re reached. For example, look at: 

  • Short and long-term company strategy
  • Current market challenges and characteristics
  • Upcoming policies and regulations that could impact your company
  • How well positioned your business is to survive drastic, fast change (especially important in the current socioeconomic climate)

Open conversations that bring team members together around upcoming initiatives and how employees can contribute to growth goals collaboratively are important to ensure a winning workforce planning strategy. Working collaboratively allows everyone to align on projects, expectations, and milestones while fostering a synergetic environment. 

Use this time to achieve cross-departmental buy-in and align on the bigger picture vs. specific details. Remember that without business units brought in, it’ll be difficult to fully benefit from a shift in workforce planning should the business need to pivot or refocus its goal around key areas down the line.  

2. Take Stock of Your Team

Now that leaders understand the vision and importance of strategic workforce planning and departments are aligned, it’s time to review the current workforce and analyze the specifics of your teams. 

Supply Analysis

Supply analysis seeks to understand the current workforce. Look to evaluate talent, understand employee turnover rates (due to retirement, resignations, etc.), and how employees are trained for their roles. Ask yourself:

  • How many employees are in each department?
  • How many employees total across all departments?
  • What positions are notoriously difficult to hire for?
  • What areas are challenging to find high-quality applicants?
  • What hiring sources are being used? Are they impactful or effective?
  • What skills are needed to perform roles? Do current employees have these skills?
  • What external factors impact supply?

You should aim to uncover whether your internal supply is meeting your demand.

Demand Analysis

Demand analysis determines a business’s current and future work requirements. Look to understand:

  • How many employees are needed to achieve business objectives?
  • What anticipated changes in policies, regulations, or technology could impact workload demand?
  • What potential future scenarios could occur that impact talent acquisition?
  • What skills are needed to meet business needs?
  • What will the future workforce look like if the business meets its targets?
  • What are the expected changes in staffing patterns?Do these ensure that demand is met?
  • Does the business need to add new services or products?
  • Does the current workforce have the skills to complete work in the future?
  • How will workload change in the future?

Gap Analysis

The gap analysis phase is the time to understand the gaps between the forecasted workforce demand and projected supply. This will help you to identify: 

  • What new skills are needed to meet business objectives?
  • What skills are no longer needed?
  • What skill gaps exist in the current workforce?
  • What roles require difficult-to-source skills?
  • Where are there diversity gaps in the workforce?
  • What needs adjusting to ensure that supply meets demand?

Depending on the business, you might find a gap where the projected workforce supply is lower than the forecasted demand. This is a crucial indicator that a future shortage of workers is likely to happen, and you can utilize an agile structure to ensure that demand is met. 

This is also a great way to assess what kind of talent you need — either full-time or independent — that is best suited to address your immediate and long-term gaps.

3. Consider How to Add Agility to Your Workforce

There are numerous ways to add agility to your business if you’ve found gaps that need to be filled during your workforce analysis.  

Leverage Project-Based Work

According to Harvard Business Review, by 2027, 88 million people worldwide will likely be working in project management, which signals that companies  are starting to adopt a project-driven organizational structure.

Most businesses focus on becoming more nimble, responsive, and productive, therefore seeing the advantages that a dynamic and agile workforce brings to the table. 

By strategically leveraging project-based work, companies can save money and become more innovative, capture future value today, and drive short-term and long-term growth.

Companies can achieve this by building teams specialized in solving specific business challenges. Because projects vary significantly in size, labor demands will also shift to reflect this changing need, which is where an agile workforce comes into play. 

Independent Workforce 

The independent workforce comprises 58 million Americans and signals a huge opportunity for businesses to leverage this cohort’s flexibility and expertise to create an agile workforce.

According to MIT Sloan and Deloitte, organizations increasingly rely on the independent workforce to perform essential services, with 74% of leaders agreeing that effective management of external workers is critical to their success. 

By onboarding members of the independent workforce, a business can immediately fill skill gaps and roles needed during uncertain times and keep on top of critical work. Compared with a 2+ month time to hire for full-time employees, companies who bring on external talent on demand can be onboarded within 13.5 days.


Internal employees have a place at the table, too. An agile workforce doesn’t always mean bringing in talent on demand — leveling up the current workforce is just as important. 

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report estimates that half of all employees globally will need to be upskilled or reskilled by 2025 as the adoption of new technologies drives innovation forward. Not only that, private-public collaboration on large-scale upskilling could increase GDP by $6.5 trillion and create 5.3 million new jobs by 2030. 

Upskilling or reskilling current employees is a lower-cost model than hiring and training new employees, and by upskilling, businesses are more likely to retain current employees and boost morale. 

By investing time in employees and upskilling different departments, businesses stand to create an agile and dynamic workforce that can adjust to changing technological business needs with ease.

4. Operationalize The Plan Company-Wide

Getting buy-in is important and ensuring everyone is on the same page is key to successful workforce planning and implementation. 

Part of achieving buy-in is making sure that the strategic workforce plan is included within the organization’s overarching strategic plan, coupled with regular check-ins to understand how market trends may have shifted and impacted what has been road mapped.

Taking the time to frequently revisit the plan throughout the year — whether quarterly or biannually — ensures that the business is always prepared to respond gracefully to incoming challenges.

Operating your business today and beyond is a team sport, and the more aligned business unit leaders are in how they build their teams, the greater the impact it will have on the company’s bottom line. 

Implement Agility to Impact the Bottom Line

Operating your business today and beyond is a team sport, and the more aligned business unit leaders are in how they build their teams, the greater the impact it will have on the company’s bottom line. 

Not only does it provide them with a flexible workforce strategy that can evolve as market needs change, but it also helps businesses be more proactive in retaining their workforce while also being smart about the talent they bring. 

Disruption can happen from anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Businesses need to think on their feet, and adopting an agile approach is the first step to ensuring maximum flexibility with minimum disruption. 

If you’re interested in exploring how you can further optimize your workforce today and beyond, then read our Ultimate Workforce Optimization Guide to learn more.

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