Resilient Workforce Planning

Now and into the future

Resilient workforce planning must be part of organizational efforts to develop overall plasticity. People make up an organization, and their talent keeps operations running. Yes, we can argue over whether individual people matter, but on the whole, any successful company requires a dedicated workforce to run day-to-day operations. More than that, they deliver on the mission and vision set by leadership. There is no resilient organization if personnel cannot embrace the high-level strategy.

In my last blog, I shared how many corporations are moving to a virtual or hybrid model where employees work from home or a mix of in-office and remote. Additionally, I shared that Working Resiliently Remotely is a learned skill. However, the tips I shared make working from home viable. 

Preparing Ahead

The time is now

As practitioners, we must consider what changes we need to make in today’s planning processes. Then, it makes sense to begin mapping out long-term strategies for the future. Success in a resilient workforce planning model entails reviewing all aspects of employees’ engagement with the workplace environment. As we have personnel returning to the office in more significant numbers for some companies or others shifting to 100% virtual, many aspects of an employee’s daily engagement need consideration.

In March, CNBC did a series of pieces related to Making sense of why executives are eager to get employees back in the office. There are many reasons for a more old-fashioned working style, belief that teams collaborate better in-person, or symbolic celebration of a return to normal–after COVID. Yet, even back then, there was a recognition that business life would not go back to pre-pandemic patterns. Lindsay Kohler wrote an article for Forbes last year sharing The Real Reason Employers Want Everyone Back In The Office from a behavioral science perspective. It comes down to uncertainty and feeling a loss of control. So, as resilience professionals, we can contribute to building a more human-centered approach to work–either for those working remotely or in-office by enabling that sense of structure by clearly identifying how resilience benefits the future state. 

Teams Return To The Office

A collaborative approach to business resilience

Below, I listed multiple areas to analyze across disciplines. Reviewing the Resilience Program Pillars of organizational security, organizational safety, business continuity, and risk management will put you on the path to developing strong support for your workforce. After completing the initial analysis, socialize it with leadership. Creating a solid collaborative framework early with management and subject matter experts will enhance the business’ resilience. 

Investing in developing a framework now will pay dividends later. Expect that aspects of the model will evolve. But, if you start the process and create opportunities for resiliency in your employee base, changes will be easier to make later. If you don’t address preparedness directly today across organizational departments, there is an increased chance of impacts from crisis events when they do happen. 

Future Workplace Flexiblity

Lessons learned in the field

Frankly, it’s easy to get stuck in your foxhole. As I mentioned in Workforce Resilience Post-COVID, the work-life landscape has shifted significantly over the past few years. Understandably, companies want a definable new normal after several years of remote work, multiple starts and stops to office return, and waves of Covid-19 variants. There are so many pressures on organizations building from external forces of the continued pandemic, economy, and world events that we want reliability in our office culture. 

I’ve participated in crisis teams, working groups, strategy sessions, and visioning to understand what the new “good” looks like. The reality is that company norms and routines are still developing. As much as corporate teams are trying to put a bow on post-pandemic life, it lingers and is now affected by other threats. Whether or not we call it a recession, we’re in an economic downturn. Times like these always harm business profitability. Establishing or reinforcing a resilience framework internally today will enable the company to bounce back through rocky times. 

Work Resiliently

Remote, in-office, and hybrid working

If you haven’t already started to refresh your resilience programming, consider the following areas as you begin to update it for the new normal:

  • Reduced real estate footprint – Does this change the resilience of your crisis response program? Would a site-based program need to consider virtual or hybrid response capabilities?
  • Site hardening – Do your buildings now have more tenants, or are you newly working with property management companies? Consider how this affects planning, security protocols, employee safety, overall risk, and response.  
  • Floor warden program – Is it viable for your company’s new hybrid or increasing number of all-virtual workers? Consider if scheduling would be an administrative nightmare and teach employees how to respond during emergency events on-site instead. 
  • Remote teams – Have you updated your planning and response to adjust for the new normal? Consider both employees within the resilience disciplines (BC, crisis, risk, safety, security, IT, etc.) and the teams you train for recovery or response. 
  • Planning – Many plans emphasize workplace response, recovery, and standard SOPs for security or safety. Have you included the virtual workforce and hybrid to understand how it impacts business resilience?
  • Remote worker safety – The risk of workplace violence incidents now expands to the home environment in many cases. Additionally, do employees know what to do if a crisis strikes and they work from home? Consider workers’ compensation cases impacts.
  • Operational impacts – Geogrphaically dispersed teams unable to gather post-crisis may struggle to identify new response and recovery methods. For many companies, remote working is a plus as relocation efforts are not as important. However, there is an increased risk of impacts due to power and network outages. 
2023 Resiliency

Head's down and put your heart's up

These are just a few emerging issues to weigh as you (re)examine business resilience. We didn’t even touch on business operational issues such as increased threats due to increased digital commerce and fraud. Cyber attacks, heat waves, power outages, and food insecurity are relevant risks. We can contemplate how both internal and external risks threaten our workforce.

In some ways, we are all in this together. In others, workforce preparedness will be specific to your business. Please share your comments below on any additional significant areas of mitigating impacts for your employees in the work environment. By sharing our collective insights, we will all become stronger together. 

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