Part 2: Maturity of workforce planning in Crown Research Institutes

Workforce planning in Crown Research Institutes.

In this Part, we describe the workforce planning maturity of the nine CRIs. There were:

Good practice guidance notes that it can take several attempts to establish systems and strategies that support an organisation in effectively managing the mix of skills and knowledge in its workforce.

An organisation’s ability to establish effective workforce planning systems is affected by a range of internal and external influences (see Appendix 1, Figure 13). We acknowledge that CRIs operate in an environment where science research priorities can change and funding is uncertain. Workforce planning in this context is difficult. However, when used strategically, workforce planning can help organisations to adapt effectively to changes in their environment.

Assessing Crown Research Institutes against our expectations

Each CRI met our audit expectations at least in part. They had identified their workforce needs, were establishing training, recruitment, and retention strategies to meet those needs, and were monitoring and evaluating their activities. However, the maturity of those activities differed between CRIs. Figure 3 describes the different levels of workforce planning maturity in the CRIs.

Figure 3
Workforce planning maturity in Crown Research Institutes

Maturity Description Number of CRIs
Early stages Aware of need for workforce planning.
Had some systems, or were establishing systems, to support workforce planning.
Focused on improving workforce data to support comprehensive, co-ordinated workforce planning.
Developing Embedding workforce planning systems.
Collecting and analysing data to identify needs, and inform and improve workforce strategies.
Carrying out some monitoring and measuring of strategies and progress.
Established Had comprehensive workforce planning systems that were integrated with other aspects of business planning.
Collecting and analysing data from a range of sources to identify needs, and inform and improve workforce strategies.
Monitoring and measuring progress to improve and refine strategies as needs changed.

Two Crown Research Institutes with established workforce planning systems

Two CRIs had established systems for gathering and analysing workforce data. These CRIs were using information from different sources to understand their workforce needs and how internal and external factors might affect those needs. These CRIs were considering and using a range of initiatives to develop or attain the skills and knowledge they needed, and had a mix of short- and long-term initiatives based on their analysis of their workforce needs.

In these CRIs, creating systems or measures to evaluate effectiveness was an integral part of establishing a workforce initiative. This integration enabled the CRIs to make refinements and feed information back into assessments of their workforce needs. These CRIs were aiming to use workforce planning strategically and position themselves to adapt to changing workforce needs.

We were pleased to see the level of progress in these CRIs, and their use of workforce planning as a tool to support reaching their organisational goals.

Five Crown Research Institutes with developing workforce planning systems

Five of the CRIs we visited were developing their workforce planning systems. Of these CRIs, two had more advanced workforce planning than the others. They had some established workforce planning systems that were working well and providing information for new initiatives or improvements. The three CRIs at the lower end of this developmental phase had some workforce planning systems, often with one or two initiatives that were working well. With these initiatives now established, they planned to improve their workforce planning information and expand their workforce planning activities.

Each CRI recognised that effective workforce planning was a useful strategic tool, and was working to establish workforce planning systems to support this. In our view, it is important for the CRIs in this developmental phase to continue their improvement activities to support a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach to workforce planning. We have conveyed this directly to the CRIs.

Two Crown Research Institutes with early-stage workforce planning systems

Two CRIs were still in the early stages of establishing workforce planning systems. These CRIs had a narrower view of their workforce needs, and initiatives to train, recruit, or retain staff with the required skills and knowledge usually had a short-term focus.

The ability of these CRIs to form a broader and long-term view was limited by the available data about their workforce, and the CRIs’ capacity to analyse this data. Data quality also limited their ability to effectively monitor their training, recruitment, or retention activities. However, these CRIs were considering ways to improve their data. They acknowledged the need for a more strategic approach to workforce planning because this could help them manage the workforce challenges they face.

While these CRIs’ workforce planning initiatives were not as established as in the other CRIs, it was encouraging to see that they were considering how workforce planning could support better capability management. In our view, improving the range and quality of data about their workforce is essential to support better analysis of their needs and enable them to consider their needs in a more strategic way. We have conveyed this directly to the CRIs.

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