The COVID-19 pandemic has caused employers across all industries around the globe to evaluate which workers their business really need to function. Whether weighing decisions about hiring, layoffs and furloughs, or determining who can work remotely, employers have had to move quickly to segment their workforce by understanding which roles are truly needed for success.
Ideally, organizations would have been doing this kind of strategic workforce planning all along. But even if not, it’s vital to do so now. Identifying essential positions (those you need to keep the lights on) and critical roles (those that create the most value for your organization) helps you to triage your workforce quickly in times of crisis. It also helps ensure that you have the right people in these positions, as well as understand how to better support them maximize their business impact.
Here are a few key ways to identify critical roles in your workforce.
Focus on Who Drives Real Value
Typically, about 20% of the roles at a company drive 80% its value and competitive advantage. Referred to as the Pareto Principle, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. But it is a place to start with your assumptions. Begin by asking these three questions across your organization:
- Which roles are most important for the future growth for your business?
- Which have the highest impact on your ability to execute on your short- and long-term strategy and business objectives?
- Which roles drive your competitive advantage?
Another way to approach this process is by determining which employees, if lost or unable to fulfill their jobs, would cause the most disruption or lead to real challenges for your organization. Be sure you know what makes them indispensable and think about how you might break what they do down to key factors of why they are so invaluable. The goal is to determine if it’s the impact of the role on the organization (e.g., an unfilled account management position in a customer service center business) or specific skills that employee brings (innovation, critical thinking, etc.) that create value.
Effectively identifying those critical roles then allows you to segment your workforce according to the value those roles bring to your organization. In turn, this can ensure you place your best talent in those jobs, differentiate their compensation appropriately to retain high-value employees, keep critical roles filled, and create a succession plan for the future…