Time to loosen the shackles

Agility, adaptability, forward thought and a strategy have always been attributes of those who are successful. They are also core elements to a dynamic workforce plan and resource strategy. For businesses, this means having a clear plan on what resource you need together with how, when and what type. Typically, firms have taken a very reactive approach to this and shackled themselves to limited success. Here I will tell you how to take a proactive approach and release those shackles.


In a time where the world has experienced a crisis that we would have probably never even considered in normal thought – and certainly only encountered in the pages of a fiction novel, a Hollywood doomsday movie, or an episode the Black Mirror on Netflix – the very way in which we approach our everyday lives is likely to have been transformed forever. The new normal that everyone is talking about is a hazy, uncertain land that we are taking small, careful steps toward, day-by-day, and is dominated by ‘what-if’s’, conjecture and collective thought.

“It is not the strongest of the species that will survive, nor the most intelligent. It is the most adaptable to change” Charles Darwin

We must learn to adapt so many aspects of our lives at a pace previously only adopted by a few trail-blazers, pioneers and innovators. For businesses, so many are in survival mode, trying to shore up their ongoing existence. To thrive when we reach the new normal, survival planning is not enough. It is essential businesses use this time to look forward and put a model in place that is highly dynamic whilst being resilient, efficient whilst being innovative, enterprising whilst being able to deliver.

“You can take my factories, burn up my buildings, but give me my people and the I’ll build the business right back again” Henry Ford

People are often said to be the most important element of a business, and whilst I believe a successful business requires several different elements working in harmony, for most businesses, if they do not have the best talent and expertise in place, they are unlikely to achieve the best outcome. In this ever-changing, ever-evolving world, it is essential then to have a dynamic workforce plan and resource strategy in place.


What can you be doing now – the five key ingredients

If you look forward and develop an idea of what resource you need, not only are you able to plot the direction you need to travel in and what you need to do to get there, you are in a much better position to support the overall objectives of your business.

So here are five key considerations to build a dynamic workforce plan and strategy – (bear with me on the recipe analogy):

  1. What are the defined set of objectives or goals that you are working towards?

This is essential as it helps focus the business and give an unobstructed view of what you are trying to achieve.

  1. What resource do you need to achieve this?

Think about what you need for ongoing operations as well as for projects and new business; and what type of resource you need to use – such as permanent or flexible / contingent resource.

  1. How much of our demand planning can be forecast in advance versus needing to be reactive?

Think about the capacity of the team / business, how much additional capacity it has, and how you can flex and scale with increased demand, projects or new client wins. Similarly, consider what you would do if demand is lower than forecast.

  1. What can you fulfil with your internal talent and what would require external talent?

Are you able to redeploy existing talent or do you need to source additional talent from the external market? Are you able to do this effectively or do you need to partner with a talent and recruitment expert?

  1. How do you attract, engage, source, onboard and off-board the different resource requirements?

Consider your in-house capabilities; how quickly you need to source and onboard talent; the technology you have in place to run this efficiently, provide an exceptional candidate experience and reporting for key stakeholders; your existing supply chain and sourcing model?

It doesn’t matter whether you are a start-up, scale-up or established enterprise, having at least a simple workforce plan and resource strategy in place will help you navigate the challenges ahead, providing direction and the right mindset amongst your business. It can also prevent the panic and inevitable imperfect outcome that comes with a reactive approach and instead ensure you have the best talent in place to increase the chances of an optimum outcome.

Five important reasons to create a workforce plan and resource strategy

• It encourages a more proactive, forward-looking approach and continuous improvement philosophy
• It allows your business to be nimble, responsive and adapt quickly
• It facilitates cost containment, control and visibility
• It supports the drive for efficiencies and a ‘leaner’ approach
• It ensures resilience and longevity

Gravitas have been running a series of virtual roundtables for leaders in Tech, HR and Resourcing, and over the last four weeks have involved more than 200 individuals across over 150 companies. One of the clear recurring themes is that people are starting to consider or re-consider their short, medium and long-term approach to resourcing. We’ve run some snapshot polls and have found the following:

63% of clients are planning on using more remote talent
51% of clients are you considering a more flexible workforce strategy

So how does this relate to a recipe for success?

To draw parallels to what a lot of us are going through right now, I’ll use an analogy of something many of us are missing rather a lot at the moment – our favourite restaurant.

When we go to our favourite restaurant you probably never even consider the different elements working in harmony, and the work that goes behind it, but this warming, enjoyable and delicious experience is the product of meticulous planning. Before you even set foot in the restaurant on any given day, the chef and the owner or manager will have planned approximately how many meals need to be made, the right amount of ingredients they need to order, whether they have these on premise or need to have them delivered, how many kitchen staff they need to create these delicious meals on time for hungry customers…and we haven’t even got to the restaurant ambience and decor, the front of house staff, or ensuring the restaurant is commercially viable! Most of the time, as the customer, all you care about is that favourite dish, the relaxing, welcoming environment, and the happy feeling it creates within you.

But what if we compared this to you trying to recreate your favourite meal at home, after a long day at work, with little planning or preparation? You’d know the outcome is definitely not going to be as good as it would be at your number one restaurant, unless you happen to be called Heston or Nigella or Ainsley…

Time to get cooking!

With the government announcing plans to start lifting lockdown restrictions and an increasing focus on how we re-boot the economy, now is the time to get your plans in place so you are ready to respond when activity inevitably picks back up. In the words of Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, President of the British Chambers of Commerce, “now is the time to be bold” as we restart, rebuild and renew the economy so make sure you are prepared, get all your ingredients in the right place and ensure you create a recipe for success!

About the author

Matt is Head of UK Talent Solutions at Gravitas Talent Solutions (GTS), a specialist tech project and talent acquisition consultancy with a mission to enable tech talent to be a key driver for our clients’ growth and success.

If you’d like to know more about our bespoke solutions that cover contract and permanent hiring, projects and scale up hiring, statement of work as well as consultancy on workforce planning, employer brand, diversity and inclusion, recruitment process optimisation, and Hiring Manager and candidate experience, email me on m.hepworth@gravitasgroup.com or call me on +44(0)7825 135 681.

➡️ LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewhepworth/

➡️ Website – https://gravitastalentsolutions.com/


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