The Strategy of Strategic Staffing: Assessment, Efficacy, & Utility
The Strategy of Strategic Staffing: Assessment, Efficacy, & Utility
The professional landscape of the 21st century requires flexibility and innovation with regard to human resources, and that new methods such as strategic staffing, in alignment with an organizational strategy demonstrates efficacy and utility to the organization. The issue of the strategy of strategic planning is an issue that is an amalgamation of a few issues including the many failures of organizations to create alignment of staffing strategy with organizational strategy, the obstacles and tools for managing the flexible workforce; and taking a moment of deliberation to refine the careers & the industries of the 21st century and implications for staffing strategies. The world has changed a great deal in a plethora of ways over the past two decades, and specifically within the 21st century. Companies that want to keep up and lead need to adapt business practices that are in tune with the times and the markets. Strategic staffing is a tool at the disposal of all, but at the use of a rare few. Ever more rare are the successful implementations and approaches to strategic staffing.
A core issue within strategic staffing is the attitudes that people have toward it. The people who must conduct the research and preparation for the strategic staffing are often not properly trained in the methodology. Furthermore, managers that have to perform strategic staffing preparation may not directly see the utility of the exercise; they may quite frankly view it as something impossible and/or as a waste of time. Executive managers do not often use the information used for strategic staffing as it can be best applied, if applied at all. In the relatively few instances where strategic staffing has thus far been implemented, the approaches and attitudes to the implementation directly inhibit the success of the organizational change and/or the staffing change. The perspective of the paper is that strategic staffing is a tool that does not get used very often or very well, but when it is, it proves to be invaluable and directly related to measureable achievements of the organization in question. Misconceptions and lack of adequate education in strategic staffing keep it from use and keep the business from further prosperity.
A problem with strategic staffing is that there are managers that are ill-equipped to perform what is necessary to complete it. There are also managers that are inadequately prepared or informed as to utilize the information gathered as part of the strategic staffing process. Furthermore, there are organizations that do not see the utility in undertaking strategic staffing at all because they do not know what it is or how it behooves them to try it. Ployhart articulates the misconceptions and the unfulfilled potential of strategic strategy as he writes:
These challenges [of the 21st century] might lead one to think that organizational decision makers recognize staffing as a key strategic opportunity for enhancing competitive advantage. Because talent is rare, valuable, difficult to imitate, and hard to substitute, organizations that better attract, select, and retain this talent should outperform those that do not…although staffing should be one of the most important strategic mechanisms for achieving competitive advantage, organizational decision makers do not understand staffing or use it optimally. Given that the war for talent is very real and relevant to organizations around the globe, it is critical that organizations and organizational scholars recognize the value of staffing. (Ployhart, 2006,-Page 870)
Organizations do not perceive the value or utility of strategic staffing while the minority of organizations that do, often are industry leaders or at least provide a formidable, respected presence within the field. This is an area that has not yet been fully maximized for the purpose of productivity, efficiency, cohesion, stability, and profit in a great deal of organizations, according to Ployhart (2006). In the 21st century, organizations should every department and every aspect within reach to unify under the commitment to the organization's success. This problem in strategic staffing is evidence that not every department is fully used or exploited in service to the company.
Highly effective strategic staffing comes with interaction with other facets of the human resources department and/or existing management. The Minnesota Department of Employee Relations offers insight into the effective use and integration of strategic staffing:
The proper alignment of participant roles and responsibilities is significant to the model is success. A shared responsibility between line supervisors, managers, and HR professionals is important in identifying the critical human resource issues in strategic and operational plans. In addition, line managers must lead the development and implementation of staffing plans while human resource staff provides consulting and technical support for data collection, analysis, measurement, and staffing activities. The effectiveness and efficiency of the Strategic Staffing model cannot stand alone; it must be integrated with other human resource processes… (DOER, 1999,-Page 6-7)
This is yet another reason and another challenge to the effective use of strategic staffing in business. There is little practical knowledge. General attitudes toward it are that it is useless. The traditional perspectives regarding it are that it is best used as a reaction to a situation and that its use is an isolated incident of the concern of the human resources department only. It is a formidable weapon in the battle to stay ahead in nearly every existing industry in the 21st century. The misconceptions and disadvantageous attitudes toward strategic staffing leave it being like the sharpest knife in the drawer that never has the chance to cut.
Strategic staffing is a tool for longevity in business. It requires managers to evaluate their organizations presently, even historically, and then make projections. Strategic staffing asks managers for some foresight into their industries and into their organizations. There are numerous industries that do not change very much over time, and there are those whose changes come, but come gradually or at a manageable pace. There are other industries such as information technology and computer science which continue to evolve and revolutionize themselves in cycles composed of a few to several months. How can management in field such as those implement strategic staffing? How is using strategic management in those scenarios a worthwhile use of time?
As with any issue, the clarification of terms and phrasing is key before engaging in a close examination, analysis, or discussion. Who should care about staffing? Is staffing isolated to one field or industry? Staffing is for any place with more than one employee or laborer working on behalf of and receiving salary from an organization. Ployhart explains the universality of staffing succinctly:
Staffing is broadly defined as the process of attracting, selecting, and retaining competent individuals to achieve organizational goals. Every organization uses some form of a staffing procedure, and staffing is the primary way an organization influences its diversity and human capital. (2006,-Page 869)
Strategic staffing is a fairly new term in the human resources and management lexicons. There is a phrase that is sometimes used interchangeably with strategic staffing, which is "workforce planning." They both involve conceptual, strategic, or other type of methodology toward human resource management, yet the terms are distinctive.
Strategic staffing occurs at various stages within a business or organization. Strategic staffing is most effective when a change in the business or organization is in the preparatory stages. The change could be an organizational change, a cultural change, a change to structure, business philosophy or game plan with regard to the clients. Strategic staffing is a tool to smooth the facilitation and solidification of organizational transitions of many kinds. Bechet, a leader in the field of strategic planning, defines and distinguishes it as the following:
I define "strategic staffing" as the process of identifying and addressing the staffing implications of business plans and strategies, or better still, as the process of identifying and addressing the staffing implications of change. The impact on staffing should be defined (or at least discussed) whenever changes to business plans are being considered (whether near-term or longer-term)…Others call the process "strategic workforce planning," but to me, "strategic staffing" emphasizes the longer term, business orientation of the process. (Bechet, nd, Page 1)
Therefore, the use of strategic staffing acknowledges and prepares for a coming change. Strategic staffing requires leaders to consider the array of affects an organizational change may have overall and plan accordingly.
Bechet refers to strategic staffing as a long-term business strategy. Thus strategic staffing is not a tool for the shortsighted or for a temporary business venture. Strategic staffing reflects a plan of longevity.
Some managers in more volatile areas, where business is changing rapidly, question the validity and value of processes that ask them to provide estimates of staffing needs for points in time that are well beyond their ability (or need) to plan. Staff planning is often incomplete -- required staffing levels may be forecast, but required capabilities are not. (Bechet, nd, Page 2)