In the last 4 months, Queensland has seen more than its share of headlines from the lack of integration between business and workforce planning. Perhaps its a good time for government agencies to wake up to the need for better, integrated planning involving both Finance and HR in long term strategy discussions.
‘Car shortages force cops to use public transport’
The headline was splashed across the local Brisbane papers on 9 June 2016. It seems the state was on a hiring spree for 266 new police recruits but somehow this was not taken into account against the motor pool. The 1000 new and replacement vehicles in the budget did not result in sufficient net growth to the overall fleet size leaving the motor pool 200 vehicles short. This has left police using buses, trains and car pooling for court appearances and to reach foot patrol assignments or begging a lift in the back of the patrol car one would assume.
When businesses grow, there are ripple effects to all other areas of the business. If you add people, you also add uniforms, tools and training to the budget. If planning is not an integrated process, the effects are often felt too late to mitigate the impact.
This week, Queensland Rail has seen the resignation of their CEO and Board Chairman as a new Redcliffe commuter rail line – recommended 121 years ago and built over the past 3 years – came on line with insufficient numbers of trained and qualified train drivers ready in time to staff the extension. The impact is now being felt throughout the region as service to all other rail lines is reduced to ensure adequate safe staffing levels. It is unclear as to how many drivers are still to be hired or when the training of new and existing rail staff will be complete to return to normal service levels. One would have thought with all that advanced notice, this outcome could have been prevented.
Strategic workforce plans are designed to be developed alongside multi-year operational strategies and financial budgets to allow for ongoing scenario planning. HR has the data to understand best not just how many staff with be needed during growth phases but also how historical turnover, staffing levels and other workforce data need to be factored in to longer term growth as well. Perhaps the conversation needs to change within government agencies to ensure a broader approach to long term planning.