Part 5: Monitoring and evaluating workforce planning activities

Workforce planning in Crown Research Institutes.

In this Part, we:

Importance of monitoring and evaluation

We consider that it is critical to have systems to monitor and evaluate workforce strategies, and to feed this information back into overall workforce planning. Information gathered through monitoring and evaluation systems enables organisations to make effective decisions about the success of workforce planning activities. Monitoring and evaluation allows organisations to:

  • track progress when establishing initiatives;
  • check whether initiatives are achieving desired outcomes;
  • examine organisational health;
  • identify new risks; and
  • adapt to changing needs.

In Figure 12, we list some points that organisations should consider to ensure that monitoring and evaluation activities contribute to effective workforce planning.

Figure 12
Considerations for monitoring and evaluation

Establishing the framework Evaluating effectiveness
What is the intended outcome of the strategy?

How will outcomes will be measured?

What information is needed to assess progress?

How often should progress be reviewed?
Is the strategy delivering the intended outcome?

Has the environment changed and are modifications needed?

Are there new risks that require a different approach?

Source: Adapted from Australian National Audit Office (2001), Planning for the workforce of the future: a better practice guide for managers.

Systems for monitoring and evaluating workforce planning activities

All CRIs had systems to monitor and evaluate workforce planning activities. However, the extent of monitoring and evaluation varied between CRIs.

The most common monitoring and evaluation systems were:

  • analysis of climate or culture surveys; and
  • analysis of human resources data (for example, turnover data or exit interview responses).

These systems provided for periodic review of workforce needs, progress with workforce initiatives, and identification of emerging risks.

Climate or culture surveys were an important way for CRIs to evaluate workforce strategies, and identify areas for improvement or new risks. Six CRIs held data from previous surveys so themes and trends could be tracked over time. Because most CRIs were aiming to provide development opportunities and provide an attractive working environment to attract and retain staff , surveys were a useful mechanism to measure staff satisfaction and identify concerns.

Most of the nine CRIs analysed the survey results for themes and trends, and established projects to respond to those themes and trends. For example, one CRI’s survey showed that staff were concerned about their pay levels. The CRI recognised that this dissatisfaction was a retention risk so it set up a project to investigate options to address it. Another CRI identified staff concerns about inadequate systems for managing difficult behaviours. It introduced training for this, and feedback on the training suggested that it was meeting the needs of staff. This became core training for all staff.

Internal reporting

Internal reporting on workforce initiatives and the state of the workforce can be an effective way of regularly monitoring workforce planning and the state of the workforce. Senior support for workforce planning activities is an important factor in their success. Regular reporting to senior management is a useful tool to keep workforce issues on their agenda.

Members of the CRIs’ senior management teams were commonly receiving regular internal reports about the workforce planning initiatives. Staff we spoke with told us that there was a lot of support from senior management for workforce initiatives.

Most CRIs had internal reporting systems to advise senior management of progress with workforce planning activities. Reports covered basic information such as the number of full-time equivalent staff, progress with recruitment, turnover, or training, or updates on workforce projects. The best examples of internal reporting added to the information in reports by providing an analysis and discussion of important workforce issues, turnover, or demographic profiling.

Most CRIs carried out some basic analysis of human resources data but CRIs with developing or established workforce planning were doing more sophisticated analysis of workforce information and relating the results back to workforce strategies. For CRIs in the early stages of establishing their workforce planning systems, poorer data quality and the inability to analyse information easily were limiting their monitoring and evaluation activities. However, these CRIs had identified these limitations and were planning to address them with information technology projects or by reviewing the types of measures they used.

Our views on monitoring and evaluating workforce planning activities

Robust workforce data and analysis of it is essential in establishing meaningful measures from which to monitor and evaluate. We were pleased to see that monitoring and evaluation initiatives were an integral part of workforce planning for the CRIs with established workforce planning systems, and for three of the five CRIs with developing workforce planning systems.

Because some CRIs had poor workforce data or limited capacity for analysis, it was difficult for them to know whether their workforce needs and risks were being addressed. Without robust systems to monitor and evaluate workforce planning activities, organisations cannot be sure that they are targeting their resources most effectively to improve their capability.

As a matter of good practice, CRIs should ensure that their monitoring and evaluation activities are supported by relevant data collection, analysis, and measures.

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