DHU is a 3000 strong Healthcare organisation, delivery services to the NHS front-line, including urgent and emergency care, primary care, out-of-hours services and NHS 111.
No. Pretty much every function has a responsibility for workforce planning, but because full ownership doesn’t sit within one function it doesn’t get picked up at all. The fact that nobody fully owns it causes a lot of pain for a lot of functions (including me and my team). For example, it didn’t matter how great my team was at recruiting, they were permanently stuck in 'reactive mode'. This then resulted in long Time to Hires, too many unnecessary agency hires and ultimately unhappy hiring managers. Even if we had the budget to throw more recruiters at the problem, it wouldn’t stop the reactive nature that our hiring communities interacted TA.
Defining what Workforce Planning means to me and my team, and that’s it. Finding the root cause of our issues. This was managers not spending anytime planning their hiring needs for 3,6,9,12 months ahead. We had the full spectrum of manager capability in this respect. Some managers were great at doing this, but then they certainly weren’t sharing it with me and my team until the last minute.
Then at the other end of the spectrum, some managers didn’t know where to start. So, I needed a way to change how managers thought about planning their team requirements, standardise the way they did it and somehow do it all without adding anymore work for my team. Afterall we needed the data, not the extra work of getting hold of it all!
No, because as I described, I focussed on fixing what Workforce Planning meant for me in TA. My colleagues in Finance will absolutely be included once we have a plan to collaborate on. I didn’t want managers to be confused in the first instance and link what we were doing into budgeting or headcount planning. That will all take care of itself once I have a demand plan to work with.
Just because managers create a hiring demand plan for their team, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will all get hired. My first step was to find out what demand was out there in the business and coming down the line to my team. From there I could link it in with budget, headcount etc. and control the priority of demand and pre-approval of critical roles. I wanted to be in control of the demand plan, much like my CTO, CIO, CMO all control their functions roadmaps.
We aligned with their ethos and framework that managers and leaders of teams should be accountable for the Workforce Planninging of their teams. We also needed a way to educate managers on the importance of this and a way to extract the data from them simply and intuitively. Plus, as I said, I needed a way of running the process without adding work to either my team or any of my colleagues. Technology was the only way and Foresight ticked all of our boxes!
The key thing was that we didn’t make this a Workforce Planning initiative. Foresight actually gave us a way to communicate what’s in it for the managers themselves, and help “sell” the manager the need to take part. Essentially by them spending 10 minutes of their time once every quarter, we could ensure their teams were fuller, recruitment would be on time, project delays would be avoided and most importantly patient outcomes would be improved.
Once they do take part, Foresight has automated processes to make sure that the data they tell us gets actioned in the quickest and most efficient way possible. This creates a self-fulfilling virtuous circle of managers wanting to provide us this data. All this with very little work from our side.
Firstly, from my perspective, this is single handedly the best investment in technology I’ve made in years as a TA leader. Our Exec team absolutely love the process, the data and the results. They all take part in it as managers too, so they get the full experience. What surprised me is that they see this as much more than a Workforce Planning tool or process. They told me that they see it as a way to drive people and culture revolution here at DHU. It gives us all an insight into almost every strategic initiative we need to do from an HR perspective.
Instantly, but interestingly the ROI is also unlocked in different intervals. The 3 main areas for us are more efficient recruiting, mitigating flight risks and reacting and redeploying our talent. So improvements in my teams recruiting KPIs for sure, but significant cost reduction from reducing the unnecessary recruitment of regrettable leavers that could have been saved (if we had previously had the knowledge of who to target). In the first year we are on course to recoup £1.5-2m in cost benefit, which is many, many times more than the investment in the technology and process. Outside of the financial returns it has brought another level of credibility to the TA function, and a topic that the Exec are actively engaging with me about, such as I’ve never seen before.
From day one it has been a breeze! If we factor how much ‘work’ I needed to do, it was about 10 minutes running off a report, 20 minutes of reviewing the automations and communications scripts and 15 minutes of writing decent comms out to the business explaining what we are doing (and I’m fairly sure Foresight gave me templates for that anyway!). Every other aspect of the heavy lifting was owned by our Customer Success lead. This could easily have been up and running in a matter of days.
No SaaS product on the market can boast that in my opinion. Outside of work, most of the support came from the clear drive for customer success. From day one, the Foresight CS team drove such a buzz around the benefit to DHU and how it ultimately leads to better planning and patient safety – there was no Foresight agenda, purely how they could support our evolution.
This isn’t a sales pitch to anyone. I hope this is a real, valuable piece of insight that starts somebody else on a journey of truly owning workforce planning and demand data. Personally, and in my time in TA, Foresight is in a league of its own. I don’t see this as a shiny new toy, I see this as the number one tool that should have always been in place. Foresight has, in an incredibly short space of time, taken us 100 steps forward in fixing our understanding of our workforce at the end of 2023 and I cannot wait to evolve this further in 2024. I can’t now imagine having to run a TA function without this insight, so yes I’d recommend everyone takes the time to see if it can work for them!