A partnered approach to strategic workforce planning with Dave Burrows


Dave Burrows’ – Strategic Workforce Planning metrics


Kathryn Hume 0:57

Dave Burrows has over 30 years’ experience devoted to the delivery of data reporting and analytics, including 17 years purely focused people analytics and strategic workforce planning in both London and Sydney. Most recently, he was the Director of Workforce Planning for Faethm by Pearson, where he worked with several large companies on three continents before launching his own practice, strictly workforce planning. I met David around 2019, when I reached out to the public service commission to inquire about other New South Wales government organisations who weren’t engaging in strategic workforce planning. As we wanted to learn what others were doing. I was introduced to Dave, who was very generous in sharing the work he was undertaking at transport. Dave, back, then you’ve provided me with a really practical view of how to develop workforce planning capabilities. Can we start with you sharing a little bit about what that work entailed? And the outcomes you achieved? 

Dave Burrows 1:57
Oh, Hi, Kath. It’s very kind. Thank you. Yeah, four years ago, wow, it’s really flown by, I guess, with Transport being such a large organisation the key thing really was to sort of bring people across all the different agencies that comprise the transport organisation, trams, buses, trains, and so on, and bring together all the various planning teams to share their planning challenges and start to foster a culture of collaboration. And then the second part to that was to provide a single framework that could work for everyone so that they were able to leverage the skills that each of them had, and the knowledge to improve productivity across the whole department. So we were challenged this wider team to come up with the main issues as they saw. We ran a pilot over three roles. And then we played that all back to them. And collectively, we came up with potential solutions on how things could be addressed. In parallel to that I had a small team, which were focused on the data. So we crunched the data we had on the workforce. And then we include various financial and business metrics. And this enabled us to give her as a good idea of what demand was likely for the workforce, as it was going to change in future. From these two approaches, we were then able to assemble an action plan. So it was a combination of what we knew in the business with the people who were working on this stuff, day in day out. And also the data that backs it up that we then were able to present back, we then engage the HR teams, the recruitment teams, the learning teams, start helping us figure out how we were going to deliver the workforce that the that was going to be needed for the future.

Kathryn Hume 3:45
And a huge component of that, from my recollection was the capability built internally. Because this was a new approach to strategic workforce planning that we hadn’t seen in Transport before I understand. Can you talk to us about why capability was a priority?

Dave Burrows 4:05
I think there were two things, there were there was a lot of capability, but it was hidden. And so we weren’t clear where all of that those skills were within the organisation. And we needed to flush that out. So we needed to make it quite clear to people that if they knew they had some skills, or they were keen to demonstrate the habits, because they could bring that forward so that we could see that. And also, I think government is in a very unique position in that we’re able to bring people through from very junior roles right through the whole lifecycle of their career. So that gives us an ability to to develop people not just using mechanisms like TAFE here in Australia, which is sort of a tertiary education provider, but owned by the government, but also through apprenticeships and so on, so that we could then bring people through through the whole opportunity that was there for them.

And a lot of these opportunities cross over the different areas of the business. So, one of the areas we looked at, for example, was project engineers, and project engineers needed to build railways, roads, you name it. So it was a common skill across the whole department.

Kathryn Hume 5:18
So with all that capability you’ve built, I imagine you’re seeing lots of growth and potential of strategic workforce planning in itself. Can you tell me where you think the future of strategic workforce planning is heading? And what role you’re going to play in that?

Dave Burrows 5:37
Sure, I think what we’re trying to get to is that a deliberate effort is being made in planning the workforce around the business strategy. So I think it’s, no longer feasible to just expect that the workforce will be there when you need it. And I think we need to see more planning involved, to deliver what we want, as organisations as businesses. And I think, that the only way to do that is to consider upfront what it is we want from our workforce, because as we’ve seen, through things like COVID, as you mentioned, things have changed. Now, we no longer have some of the options that we had before. Still say we’ve got more opportunity now than we had before COVID. But we need to change the way we think. So for an example of that, often companies will look to expand outside their current locations or their current business. And it would be, imprudent of them not to think about the workforce that they’re going to need to deliver on those expansion plans. But whereas in the past, they may have just, taken upon and gone for it and expected that they would be able to bring in the workforce they need. I think now there needs to be a far greater emphasis on the planning side of things. And let’s not forget that just because you’re building a plan doesn’t mean, it’s fixed in stone, I think it could change as we move through, it’s far easier to change a plan that you’ve got than to start from scratch.

Kathryn Hume 7:07
What I really love about strategic workforce planning, and you’ve alluded to this, in that response to is the ability to recreate the future. And I guess that’s what this podcast is about. And that’s why I call it the Reimagined Workforce, because I really want to start thinking about well, what’s different about the future? And how do we leverage that in our action plans now? And so that is talking about those expanded plans and the ecosystem model rather than expanding beyond the boundaries of our organisation? So could I ask you, what I ask all my guests is, what does your reimagined workforce look like?

Dave Burrows 7:44
Ah, it’s really around a future that has a fundamental right for all to have some kind of career path or some kind of planned working that they’d like to do. I think, you know, there are various things that have happened over the last few years, that the workforce in Australia here is getting smaller. But I think that’s a global trend. We’re seeing organisations competing for a smaller group of people, because they’re obviously competing in similar markets. Now, through digitisation, we’ve seen that a lot of people have reevaluated their work life, they want to think differently around what they want from their work. They want to think about how they do that work as well. We’re having a big debate right now around remote working. And I think really, for me, the future for the workforce is that it’s a two way street, I think the organisation’s need to start to think about what they can offer the workforce, that would be beneficial not only to the workers and the employees, or their staff, but also will help deliver the business strategy that they need. So I think it’s a far bigger collaboration piece. And I talked about collaboration earlier. And I think that really does extend into the businesses we’re talking about here. And it can be any kind of business, it doesn’t really matter what an organisation looks like, they could be a corporate, they could be an academic institution, it could be a not for profit, it doesn’t really matter. Every organisation has a plan in which they want to deliver better value for their customers, whoever they may be. And I think that the opportunity that workforce planning gives us is to actually consider the workforce or the people that are actually delivering that work, to be a significant part of that. To make sure that they can be as good as good as they possibly can. And that is the business being as good as they can as well as the workers and employees.

Kathryn Hume 9:49
I’m actually rereading the Infinite Game by Simon Sinek at the moment and it just talks to the heart that I think of what we are aiming for and that is that sustainable organisations that have a just cause that people want to commit to and be part of. So they can contribute to something bigger than themselves. And I think that’s where that marriage between the organisational needs and the individual needs comes in that you’ve mentioned there. So on that, how does the work that you need to do more broadly enable that reimagine workforce to eventuate.

Dave Burrows 10:24
So what I do, I mean, there are heaps of people out there, workforce planning has been around for a long time, I remember having a job way back in the in the, late 90s, where I was looking at business process reengineering in for a bank in England. And you think about that, that is actually restructuring a role restructuring the processes around a role so that you can actually deliver it more effectively. So you know, we talk, this isn’t something new. So there’s heaps of people out there that are delivering a lot of good stuff, and training and tech and so on. I think where I’m coming at it is that it’s one thing to get your workforce planning programme off the ground, and working and in place, but it’s another thing, keeping that momentum going, and actually making sure that the plan still matches the work, the business strategy that you’ve got, and you need to make sure it’s still relevant to make sure that your stakeholders are still engaged. So what I tend to do is work with mostly HR functions, but often outside the business, outside the HR and into the business as well, to help them ensure that what they’re doing is still relevant, they are collaborating Well, within their organisation they’re in, they’re engaging the employees, and they’re communicating what they’re doing, I think the change management plan is often the piece that’s that’s missing here, when I’ve seen organisations start to sort of flounder a little bit after they’ve had a good start, because they haven’t communicated exactly what they’re delivering, and when and how. And, of course, once that starts, you can then start to build quite a big impact in an organisation. And we’ve seen, I’ve seen various clients, I was working with a large retail client who, you know, they started very small, actually out here in Australia, and had a very small pilot, but they demonstrated so much value and so much good thinking that there, they were getting their door knocked down to have help across the globe and a large global organisation. So I think, you know, it really is a case of keeping going and making sure that you can adapt as you go through. So what I do is I coached organisations, and I help them understand where their processes working, flush out challenges where they are, where they find them, but also really draw on the data that they’re producing. So they, you know, a lot of the information that they get back from redeployment of people, improvement of skills, you know, delivering a better employee value proposition through offering a better career pathing framework, all of these really, really positive metrics that they need to feed back into the organisation so they can see the value they’re getting. Because as everything in business, it’s got to have a value. And I think it’s hard to perceive value in HR often, you know, we’re we’re a traditionally a soft skill department, and we need to be able to demonstrate that what we’re doing is valuable to the business. And so strategic workforce planning is that is an opportunity to do that. I just really think that we owe people far more than we have done in the past, I think, you know, we’re we’re very quick to build out our business plans and our ambitions, aspirations for our stakeholders. And of course, the stakeholders and our customers are all very, very, very important. But at the end of the day, it’s the workforce that deliver that business, you know, and I accept, we see the advent of technology and AI, and we’re all becoming more familiar with how we use that. And you just look at how that a lot of the workforce around the world is starting to embrace these new technologies. And so we’ve proved that we are really adaptable. And we’ve really got something to offer. And I think for me, it’s about unlocking some of that some of the more softer skills that can’t be done by machines, so that we can actually really enhance what we’ve got.

Kathryn Hume 14:20
Yeah. And I always I think everyone knows who listens to this about my focus on the human side of work and making sure that I mean, we could follow up process to strategic workforce planning. I’m we’re planning on putting out a toolkit, and yes, people can pick that up and follow the dots. But I think it’s the human element. It’s that the heart and the hearts and minds and capturing that and that’s what I think there’s a few things that I’m wanting to bring into some of the training that I’m going to be doing is just around that purpose. How do we actually put purpose first and look at this, that we are in this for long term, it’s not about us, it’s actually about the world organisations and the people who benefit from our organisations and that that’s where the human side comes in. I think

Dave Burrows 15:07
absolutely purpose is really, really important. And, you know, Alicia and I have spoken about this at length, at least you from recruiting purposes is what’s really driving people. And Kathy, you and I have worked in the public service, you’ve seen no greater evidence of purpose than when you worked in a public environment like that, you know, people are there, because they really want to make a difference. And I think that that carries through into the public into the private sector as well. And people are proud of who they work for, they’re proud of their job. And let’s face it, you spent a long time at work. I think that it’s it’s harsh, if people really feel that they just got to turn up go home, I actually feel that they should enjoy that work that they do. And a good opportunity to help them enjoy that work they do is to get them involved in in how that work is constructed, and how it is planned. And then delivered.

Kathryn Hume 16:01
And being the people who are impacted by it and doing it day to day really were in the right place with by asking them because they’re the ones who have got that knowledge.

Dave Burrows 16:12
Absolutely. And that’s that’s the this is the collaboration piece that we’re talking about. Because, you know, often when when, when you see a workforce planning programme gets started, you often hear oh, it’s hrs job, let them get on with it. And indeed, it is hrs role to facilitate this, this programme on this process of work, because all of the elements of it are, you know, really relate to people, which is their business. But at the end of the day, HR can’t possibly know how that enough about the business or as much about the business as the people doing sales, as this is why it’s incredibly important to include them early on. So that you can actually really fundamentally understand the work they do. And therefore, how potentially it could change. And some of the great change that happens comes from these people themselves, people doing the work. They’re the ones that know this better than anyone.

Kathryn Hume 17:07
I’ve got another guest coming on. Next week. Next, sorry, next episode. I hope I messed up the recording dates with him last week. But anyway, it’s his name’s Ed Morrison. He’s written or co authored a book called strategic doing, and it’s about building capabilities. And so he’s got 10 skills that you need to collaborate. And honestly, I think it’s the greatest wall because it’s like this roadmap, it just gives you the define a framing question why we’re doing that? How do you set up the meeting structure and cadence to make sure that people are on board but not overcommitted? It’s just some really good practical things in there, which I love. Because I think that collaboration piece is so critical, sorry, the human skills that you mentioned, my curiosity, creativity and courage. They’re the ones that I think I focus on in for workforce planner, because I do honestly think that the workforce planner is really just the conductor. They’re the people who are bringing the orchestra together to operate in harmony. So is what we produce is Michelle aqueous will talk about created by the people, with the people for the people. So it’s it’s a combined effort, and everybody really has to have an opportunity to have their say, and then because we’re the ones who are all going to be then delivering on that. So I think it’s really important. One of the things I was really interested about was what strategies you’re utilising that might be different from what we’ve done in the past.

Dave Burrows 18:40
So I think there’s there’s several things that we do, we need to do slightly differently. And I think when I say we need to do we acknowledge that there are different approaches to things. I think we’ve we’ve seen that hiring and firing, which is a bit of a broad approach that has happened over the last sort of 20 or 30 years. It’s no longer viable, I think we need to think differently. For me, redeployment is the critical word here and there are lots of organisations out there that use this word and do a lot of work in this space. But many organisations have employees that are underutilised, they don’t really understand the skills that they have or the way they wish their careers to go. Often there’s a lot of legacy knowledge in those employees as well that know an awful lot about an organisation or company. And I think that you know, by teasing out some of the opportunities that are there within the existing workforce, there is a massive untapped opportunity. I think there are other potential ways of looking at this as well. We you know, when we talk about six B’s in workforce planning, which I won’t go into, which you’ve covered in previous episodes, you know, you think about the borough strategy, which is you know, thinking about how you can put temporary workforce in to different areas. There was a study by McKinsey a few years ago talking about how project teams can be deployed in a concept called flow to work, which is, you know, things like change management, project management can be delivered as a centralised function that can be moved around. And these things work differently for different organisations, every organisation is the same as you know, I think we’ve we’ve found that remote working is a big topic on everybody’s lips at the moment. And we’ve seen how it can be really embraced and not just the, you know, the traditional letting people work from home two days a week, or whatever it might be, essentially thinking about how this can be leveraged to to deliver far more opportunity and output. You know, there’s obviously people who have been offshoring things for years. But I think that once you start to focus on output, rather than what the number of hours someone’s working, you can really start to embrace remote working a lot more effectively, because you doesn’t really matter where someone is, as long as they’re delivering what you need them to deliver, which means you need to understand the role that they do. And that falls out of what we talked about earlier around getting a real clear grasp of the roles that you’ve got.

Kathryn Hume 21:15
Can I just stop you there on that? I’m worried when we say it doesn’t really matter where work gets done, because I think it does. But I think if we empower people by saying, Okay, in this environment, what type of work could you do, where you are most productive. So if you are working at home, and you are not being distracted, what opportunity is there to do that, for me, it’s that deep thinking cognitive, heavy, things that probably I put off until another day that I wouldn’t want to do in an office. So helping people to understand work is different. It changes, we’ve got different tasks that we need to undertake, we now have the opportunity to embrace the different environments that we’re operating in. I think we got thrown into hybrid, or we got thrown into working from home we got by but we could thrive in this environment. And I do think there are some strategies where because if we don’t, I think we do run that risk of that elastic band effect where we just lead us against that, or I pay for I’m back in the office, and we’ve lost that opportunity to say, Hang on, how can we make the most of this situation for the benefit of all?

Dave Burrows 22:24
Absolutely, I think remote remote working isn’t just working from home, I think that’s something that we need to really bring into this whole discussion. All right, remote working, can be working from wherever the right places for that particular work. So if I want to collaborate, I’m a, I’m a small business. So if I want to collaborate with people, I make the use of a lot of workspaces around the city, which is which is which is, you know, perfectly feasible for me, because, you know, I can travel. So I think, you know, there are options that we can bring into this, that will enable us to do the right kind of work at the right time in the right place. But for me that the fundamental part is that as an organisation, we need to understand what that work is. And I don’t think we’ve got a good enough grasp on that now, which is where the workforce planning really does help us start to think about that. And you know, it’s a bit of a byproduct, really, you know, we’re planning what we want to do for the future. But we’re in the process, we’re actually gaining this really good knowledge about our own processes and businesses start to think about how we can change that. And then by bringing the employees into have asked them how they would change it as well, this is pretty, pretty effective, in my opinion. Yeah. I think the other point that I would like to raise is, obviously we’ve talked we hear a lot of at the moment about AI and all the different tools that are coming through. And I think, you know, we need to get very clear on on how we want to utilise these machines. Because the massive opportunity here, as you mentioned, earlier Kath in bringing out the human side of our workforce. So the more we can use the machines and AI and all these other great technological advances, to enable that human side to evolve, the better in my view.

Kathryn Hume 24:12
Yeah, and I have to say, Dave, I think for the first time in my career, technology’s actually really able to do what has been at the core of what I do. So I was initially started my career as an instructional designer. So it was my job to sit down and write content. And it’s really interesting that that what might have taken me a week previously, I can put into chat GPT, and it will do it in a split second for me. So it is really interesting, and I’m really having to challenge myself now and say, or if that’s the case, what can I do that is value add. And it’s not cheating to replace those things that I’m good at with a computer that now does it much quicker and better. Admittedly, it’s novel, so then I have to then say, alright, so if that’s the core of, of the content, what can I add what what in my bank enables me to bring that to life and help people actually learn from it because content doesn’t mean learning and, and yet anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent, but I think it is forcing a lot of people to think. And I think people who traditionally probably felt they were safe. So in previous technological advances, it’s been those lower order skills that have been replaced. But I think now the technology is actually able to do that higher order stuff. So, you know, no one’s safe.

Dave Burrows 25:37
It’s an interesting tangent, though Kath, because I think the two things you mentioned there that really triggered me, was the novel, and I think this is the thing, you know, the the chat bots that we’re seeing at the moment are generating what’s already out there or reprocessing what’s out there. And that’s the opportunity for us is to think about this differently. And to think about how we might address some of these challenges. And that’s, for me, the real interesting part about strategic workforce planning is because you will have heard this as well, I’m sure a lot of organisations, companies are what’s best practice. And there isn’t any, right, because every organisation is different. Everybody has their own strategy has their own way of working has their own workforce, as their own culture. And so there isn’t a best practice that you can just lift out of the box and apply, apply. You need to take what you’ve got, and actually adapt that into what works for you, and what can really deliver the best opportunity for you. And that also can change as you move through, as I said, so I think as humans can really coexist quite nicely by actually adding the novel element to that by changing how we do things. And as we learn, actually adding to our, our approach.

Kathryn Hume 26:51
And that’s where I think that we’re focused on creativity, because it is about something novel, it’s creating something new that didn’t exist before. I really like Adam Grants’, book Originals and his approach. And there’s some really concrete ways that we can do that I think we can do it too as strategic workforce planners, as well, because we need collaboration, but we need new ideas here we need and how do we leverage those ideas? How do we prompt them build on them share? Yeah, they’re all the things that I think a strategic workforce planner needs to have in their toolkit to be able to get the best outcome for what is going to be a long standing strategy for an organisation and chat GPT gives us visors time to think.

Yeah, and thinking time is so important. One of the things Alicia Cook mentioned that it was the first episode, but gee, I reflect on that all the time. And she just covered off five points where we need to be focusing for health care, what are the challenges and opportunities? One of the things that she mentioned she called out is we do strategic workforce planning? We don’t necessarily follow through on the implementation, is that something that you see? And how do you think we can address that or overcome that?

Dave Burrows 28:12
Yeah, absolutely. And I think the implementation is obviously the critical part, because it’s really where to use the cliche, the rubber hits the road. And for me that the most important part is change management. I think, once you’ve built your plan, and you’ve gone through, and you’ve done all the due diligence, and you’ve got your senior stakeholders engaged, and everybody’s really behind you, the change management is the piece that really brings everybody along with you. And so, you know, we’ve talked about engaging employees in a process, helping them you know, build out what the future is that they want. But if we don’t actually keep them engaged, if we don’t keep them included, if we can inform them and make sure that they understand what that’s led to, then we lose that momentum. So, you know, it really is a skill change management, that there are some again, there are people out there doing really, really well. And I think most organisations now recognising that if they don’t deliver the change properly, it will fail. In not just workforce planning, but obviously, in a lot of technology implementations. So I think that that’s critical. And obviously, as an offshoot of that is people analytics. We’ve been talking about people analytics for years, having meaningful measures demonstrating progress, being able to show progress against various targets that you may have said or you’ve you’ve illustrated with your plan. I think, being able to demonstrate hard facts, and how change is going to work and how it can impact people’s working life is critical, and I think also is maintaining the senior leadership sponsorship and support because senior leaders have a lot to think about, right? They’re easily distracted and so Keeping them very clearly engaged, keeping them informed, which is where the analytics comes in, is critical. And I’ve seen a couple of organisations I’ve worked with, where they’ve gone off really, really well really well and really made a great start. And it’s been really very impressive. And then it started to sort of fold away slightly, because that change management piece didn’t work quite well, or the communication piece, because communications a large part of the change management programme. So those would be my three sort of top tips for implementation.

Kathryn Hume 30:35
And I think if you’ve involved everyone in the Strategic Workforce Plan, you’ve brought people’s to attention to it, if it falls down to the implementation, it’s going to be really hard to engage them next time. There’s going to be this discontent, I think, because you’ve set their expectations, they were on board, they saw the vision, they wanted to build it. And so if we’ve, if we’ve let them down, because we haven’t implemented effectively, we’ve really made it harder for for the future.

Dave Burrows 31:05
Absolutely. And I think, you know, if you’re gonna make a promise, you’ve got to follow it through it got to deliver it, right. Because a lot of this work is about trust. So, for people to open up and share what they do. You know, there were there was a long time ago, there was a saying, in England, where ‘knowledge is power’, where people would hold on to knowledge, it wouldn’t let that go. And so you’re asking someone to open up and share with you what they do and help you, make changes for the future, which, sometimes is a little bit ambiguous for them, they may not understand exactly what that’s going to mean for them. So the more you can communicate, and explain and show them how the benefits will will affect them, then the more likely they are to help you further. And actually, it’s just the right human thing to do.

Kathryn Hume 31:51
Correct. Because we’re not in competition with each other.

Dave Burrows 31:54
No, this isn’t a business competition, you’re actually trying to make the organisation that you work for better by actually making yourself better. And actually, you know, looking for a new opportunity in in making the most of the skills you’ve got, and even people, even people who don’t really want to be developed. I’ve had examples where people have said to me, “Look, I don’t want to career path, I don’t want to create plan, I just want to turn up do a good job and go home”. And I’m like, “That’s the answer.” How do you do a good job? And how do we make sure that you can always do that good job that you want to do. And ironically enough, those people who’ve come to me and said that went on to have very good careers. They realised that was possible, but they’d never had that opportunity before. So you know, that we shouldn’t forget the human side.

Kathryn Hume 32:45
And I’ll go back to a point that you mentioned around, we’re not competing, we’re all working for the same organisation. I think we’re also moving to this world where we’re all working within the same ecosystem. So I think we need in my reimagined workforce, I want the barriers between organisations to break down a little bit, because then talent can move more fluidly between them. And so if we improve someone within our organisation, and they can work in another organisation, that’s not a bad thing, because they might learn new skills and new capabilities in another organisation. And that organisation might be developing talent that we can then bring in. And so it just becomes more timely and we can optimise the workforce that’s available, people have better career prospects, they enjoy work more, because they’re being fully utilised. They’re working to their potential. They’re growing like I just think there’s so many benefits if we if we stop competing with each other, because it just creates too many barriers. And I think it prevents a lot of the good things that can happen.

Dave Burrows 33:48
It I don’t disagree with you. I just feel that some sometimes can be incredibly difficult because businesses are competitive,

Kathryn Hume 33:57
Set up on yearly or quarterly or you have to make KPIs. I agree. But yeah, I live in this fantastical world where I dream and dream.

Dave Burrows 34:09
I think I think you’re right, I think, from my perspective, as a manager, when I was managing teams, I always used to expect that I would only have people for a certain period of time. And so my view was if you can leave in a better place than when you join me that that’s, I’ve done my job I’ve done as best I can for you. And if that’s two years, that’s great if it’s five or 10 years even get even better, but I think it requires a level of confidence in your process. And by that I mean as an organisation. If you’ve got a strong planning programme, you’ve got a strong business strategy that is incorporating your people as well. And you’re confident that you have got the right level of robustness about your approach so that you’re not concerned when people leave you You will be able to move people around your organisation or you can change the way you do things or you can recruit because you’ve got a good employee value proposition that people actually want to come and work for you.

Kathryn Hume 35:12
Or you’ve got a succession plan in place, because you know that that person has been open and honest with you. And exactly, or you’ve got the employee value proposition there, they value the fact that you are developing, and they can see that for themselves. And they actually stay because there’s mutual benefits there.

Dave Burrows 35:31
So when they do go, that you’re in a position that you’re not left high and dry, you’ve actually got a plan to do. So. I think if you’ve got that confidence, then you can do that. That can be the future that happens. But we’ve got to get people to that place. And I think that’s the exciting piece for me, is being able to work with organisations that want that.

Kathryn Hume 35:53
Can I go back to something you mentioned earlier? People Analytics is not my strength. I was interested, you mentioned around meaningful measures and getting the hard facts. I was wondering if you’ve got this common list that you can refer to that you focus on? Or is that something that varies depending on your client?

Dave Burrows 36:12
I think there’s a couple of things here. It’s interesting. I did a Disrupt HR talk recently, here in Sydney. And one of the points that I made was that HR often produces the answers to questions that no one asks. And what I mean by that is we trot out a lot of metrics and measures that are the ones that we’ve got, rather than the ones that people want. So we’ve got lots of data on employees, and so on. And we focus ourselves on things like attrition rates, and now nobody cares about attrition rates, they care who’s leaving? And how many, but it’s more of a qualitative question rather than a quantitative. So I think there are a bunch of measures that you can use, I think there are those, I’ve got a I’ve got a good list that I use it a lot of my clients that helped them start to think about it, and we tweak them and change them on a business. But you know, depending on what people want, but for me, I think it is start with the question. So what it is, what is it we’re trying to answer here? And what are we looking to do? And then go in search of the data rather than the other way around? Because often, if you’re just looking at okay, well, we can only answer these questions, because that’s the data we have, the data will be somewhere, it will sit somewhere. So for example, I mean, we try and illustrate this, when you’re looking to you’re looking at a redeployment programme, that’s a good example, where you’re going to look to move people around the organisation, you want to be able to see where people were, where they’ve moved to. And then you’ve got to try and figure out whether there was any kind of initiative that caused them to move that way. So if you aren’t measuring that, already start to think about how you might so that might be an exit interview, that you can capture some knowledge from the from the person who’s moving, transitioning around your organisation, if it’s something that a manager can help you collect the information, why did you bring this person into your team, there are there are things that you can start to collect, that will enable you to give some really, really valuable information back up to the people who are sponsoring you or supporting what you’re doing. But it needs to be relevant. So and I think that’s the part that, you know, when we when we when we start to talk about, you know, people leaving, we want to understand, not just the people who have left, and obviously that’s really important, but why they left and what caused them to leave. And often an exit interview isn’t the right mechanism for that purpose, right. I used to think, well, people are going to tell you what you want to hear on exit interview, they’re already on the way out the door, go back and see them in six months time, they have a different view of what happened. I’m not suggesting that’s the answer to everything. But there’s just the way you approach the metrics, for me is important. And one size doesn’t fit all.

Kathryn Hume 38:56
Attrition when you mentioned that around you want to understand who’s leaving that whole regrettable versus non regrettable. Organisations breaking that down and looking at Yes, we’ve lost people. But there might have been a reason for that. We might have had them because of COVID. And we don’t need that anymore. But it is about that long term view. And could we utilise that talent elsewhere within the organisation rather than I’ll be off boarding some people over here, but we’re onboarding,

Dave Burrows 39:22
Absolutely, attrition can be your friend sometimes, right? Because if you if you know as an organisation, you are going to restructure, you’re going to have to lose some of your workforce, then, you know, looking at your attrition actually gives you a starting point to see actually how many people you know, you know, every organisation is going to lose a certain amount of people. So you know, you can actually build that into your planning. And again, as you say, if it saves you having to, you know, ask people to leave who don’t want to leave then that’s that’s a much better proposition.

Kathryn Hume 39:51
And I guess it’s really what I’m hearing you say is it’s the story behind the data. So we’ve got some data points, but what’s what why does that matter? To that organisation in terms of what problem we’re trying to solve, you mentioned that you’ve got a list that you share with clients. Is that something that we could pop into the show notes?

Dave Burrows 40:08
Absolutely, yeah, I’ll curate a list. And I’ll send it over Kath because there’s quite useful. And it’s something that I’m very happy to share.

Kathryn Hume 40:16
Yeah, I’m just aware that I’ve watched the downloads to the podcast, the introduction to strategic workforce planning, for example. It’s the one that’s been downloaded the most. And that that to me, tells me that I’ve got a cohort of listeners who really want the foundational information. So I think, yeah, whilst advanced practitioners know, to collaborate and build that context, I think, at least is a really good place to do that.

Dave Burrows 40:44
And also, there are organisations who don’t have large teams who have to do it. So I’ll put something together with some helpful pieces in that and send that over not a problem at all. And you are wonderful.

Kathryn Hume 40:57
Well, thank you. I have so enjoyed this and all of our conversations. And I do thank you for those meetings that you took me through and really looked after me four years ago, and really gave me a very good start in my knowledge and understanding very welcome. What this concept was, so thank you. If people did want to reach out how is it best that they do that?

Dave Burrows 41:22
Oh, thank you. Yeah, please connect with me on LinkedIn, David Burrows Analytics, and obviously, I’ve got a company page, strictly workforce planning. They’re on LinkedIn, which I try. When I get time, I try to write some content for that as well. But also, my website has a bit more information around what I’m doing, which is strictly workforce. planning.com. And look, this is my favourite subject. So I’ll talk to anyone they want to regardless if this, there’s a silent it for me, I really like talking about this. So please don’t Yeah, but just get in touch.

Kathryn Hume 41:56
Brilliant. All right. Well, thank you so much for your time. And I’m sure our paths will cross many, many times in the detail. Yeah, have a great day. Thanks so much, Dave,

Dave Burrows 42:05
Thanks Kath. Thank you.

Voice over 42:07
Thanks for listening to the reimagined workforce podcast. We hope you found some valuable ideas that you can apply to transform your own workforce today and tomorrow. Additional information and links can be found in the show notes for this episode at workforce transformations.com.au/podcast. Please share this podcast with your community and leave us a rating to let us know what we can do better for you.

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