5 steps to planning and recruiting your reserve bench Talent

The best sporting teams in the world keep their reserve bench talent at the ready to be able to step in at a moment’s notice and most of the top sporting events have reserve umpires in the event of an injury.

Businesses should be doing this too. However, it is often impractical for a company to have talent sitting on the bench because of the costs involved. And when crisis strikes, they find themselves without bench strength ready to go.

  • How can you ensure that your organisation always has a ready reserve bench that you can tap into to get over any critical talent shortages?
  • Which key roles need succession planning re-evaluated?
  • How will your organisational chart look as we move into the recovery phase following the Covid-19 crisis?

Here are some considerations and strategies you can implement.

1. Identify critical roles

Start by identifying the few critical positions without which there would be failure. One method to do this is demonstrated in the graphic below – segmenting the talent pool and looking at the criticality and scarcity of each position.

Critical skills are those that add the most value, operate in the most critical areas, contribute significantly to the organisation and are highly visible.

Scarce skills are characterised as being hard to find, have high market demand, low availability and low quantities of people readily available.

2. Identify your risk areas

After segmenting the current talent pool and determining which job roles are priority 1, 2 or 3, the next step is to identify risk areas:

A close up of a sign
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For example, you may have a business-critical role which is hard to source talent for and the position is required at an operational site which puts them at a higher risk of contracting the virus and becoming ill.

The ‘next normal’ organisational chart

An added complexity to the processes listed above is that different skillsets and fresh talent may be needed to reinvent the organisation and enable it to scale quickly.

In their global health and crisis briefing paper, McKinsey coin the phrase ‘next normal’ and outline a nerve centre approach which is a “team of teams”.

Inevitably, the organisational chart that got the organisation through the crisis may no longer be fit for purpose in the recovery phase. For example, a reconfigured and leaner structure which leverages more contract and virtual workers may be more suitable instead.

3. Use market intelligence for segmentation and supply forecasting

The next step is to link workforce segments to ANZCO (particularly at the 4-digit level) to be able to use labour market data to identify supply of the needed talent. 

Labour market information can be found from publicly available data, such as:

  • Department of Jobs and Small Business (Labour Market Portal, Job Outlook)
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • State and Local Government
  • Skills Boards
  • O*NET

Other data sources include

  • Job boards
  • LinkedIn
  • Recruitment Agencies
  • Higher Education and VET Sector
  • Professional Service Firms

Demographics are also a consideration.

With this information you will have an understanding of the external supply market for your high priority roles.

4. Building your sourcing plan

With a clear idea of high priority job roles and where you can find the needed talent, the next step is to build a talent sourcing plan into your workforce plan.

This looks at who will manage the gaps, work out normal organisational protocols and determine who will be involved in implementing the talent sourcing process.

Consultation with stakeholders will include decisions around which of the talent shortfalls will be sought internally or externally.

Key questions when developing a sourcing plan to acquire the skills externally you should be asking are:

  • Where do we currently source these skills from?
  • How difficult is it to source the skills?
  • What is the ratio of high-quality applications to each position advertised?
  • What is the average time to recruit?
  • What are the alternative sourcing methods (e.g. external recruiters) we can use?
  • Would we consider job share, part-time, contract and permanent arrangements?

5. Accessing the right talent for multiple scenarios and at each phase

Accessing the right talent may be easier in some regards with high unemployment, skills readily available and at a lower cost. However, top talent may be harder to identify and assess with the new lens of each individual needing crisis and business as usual skills.

Moreover, some top performers may be aching to make a move because they are be scarred by their experience of going through the crisis with their co-workers and may not agree with the new directions planned for the business. Others may be risk averse and have built deeper loyalty during the crisis which may hold them back from entertaining alternative job offers.

The duration of the crisis we are in is uncertain. We have anywhere from six months to 18 months or beyond of turbulence ahead.

Doing the scenario planning and talent scouting work now will not only help to mitigate these potential risks, it will also pay off in the future when travel restrictions are lifted. This isn’t just about emergency crisis and survival, it is also about setting yourself up to give yourself the best chance to get back into growth mode and thrive once the crisis is over.

Feel free to reach out if you want to find out more about your talent access options and building a reserve bench. We are happy to discuss and share more information.

Cover image: Shutterstock


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