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Why is a People Strategy Important?

08 August 2019

Niamh O’Brien, Director, BDO Talent Management, offers her insights on the importance of an agile People Strategy.

I have read many white papers, articles and research documents that talk through the changing landscape of our working world. Workplace Trends, Disruptors, AI, Smart Working, Gig Workers are all topics that have been dissected and analysed but what does it really mean for employers? More importantly how can they ensure that their business strategy is supported by a robust people strategy that not only aligns with their strategic direction but that facilitates their business objectives through what will always be the defining factor – People.

What are the building blocks of a robust but agile People Strategy?

The WHY

Any People Strategy should be approached with clearly defined objectives, focussing on the key issues that the People Strategy is looking to resolve. It is also essential that the strategy not only sits within the overarching Business Strategy but that it can act as the engine behind what the business is looking to achieve.

 The HOW

Technology, processes and the existing talent pool will all be considerations in the implementation of a People Strategy. Technology not only influences the work that employees are doing but can also change the full working environment by facilitating remote working, enabling and facilitating a wider talent pool. Processes and procedures are being streamlined via technology and the information flow that employers can now receive ensures that the agility to realign strategic direction has to be matched with a People Strategy that is both agile and future focussed.

Talent is still a live and very real challenge for the majority of companies, according to a recent CIPD survey, over 84% of companies are struggling with skills shortages. The bigger concern is that the skills that are in high demand today are likely to have morphed into different demands in the very near future. Despite an ongoing movement towards a flexible workforce, the speed and agility that companies need to move at to ensure they have the talent, resources and direction required for sustainable growth can be a difficult strategy to master.

While the challenges for employers are ever increasing, they are being matched in pace by the evolving demands of the workforce. Employees are looking for meaningful work, flexible working options, personal development opportunities and a working environment that facilitates upskilling and training. A successful People Strategy has to plan and facilitate the evolving demands of the wider workforce.

The WHAT

Once a People Strategy has been defined, how then does a company ensure that they are embedding it into their business? As with any strategy, the real challenge often lies in bringing it to life. It is impossible to talk about a People Strategy without touching on the increasingly topical subject of an Employer Value Proposition and bringing your EVP to life is a crucial element of rolling out your People Strategy. The only way to gauge an active and engaged EVP is through measurement. I have seen many company EVPs that are hugely impressive, innovative and ambitious but then spoken to actual employees who are not seeing the stated EVP in their actual working environment. The real challenge of a People Strategy is building a strategy that is both measurable and measured, ensuring that a cyclical model of assessment & realignment keeps the strategy focussed, but also relevant.

FUTURE PROOFING YOUR PEOPLE STRATEGY

In order for a People Strategy to be successful it must span the entire Talent Ecosystem including permanent employees, temporary or contingent staff, contractors, consultants and gig workers. By considering not only permanent employees but also mapping flexible solutions to plan and fill skills gaps, companies will be able to plan their People Strategy not just for the immediate term. The longevity of a People Strategy demands a flexible, agile plan that can support future growth.


At BDO Talent Management we design and implement solutions that respond to each individual client’s requirements. Whether you need a team of experienced professionals to ensure the success of a specific project or you want to map your existing Talent Ecosystem against your wider business strategy we have a solution that will work for you.