What if your neighborhood got hit by a dangerous storm? Would you have a plan in place to safeguard your family and your property?
It makes sense to periodically sit down and prepare for extreme events and now is a very good time for talent teams to do just that.
The last few years have been especially volatile for recruiters as demand for talent plummeted when COVID-19 hit and surged soon after. With an economic slowdown at hand, there’s reason to anticipate another hiring slump.
Given the inevitable ups and downs, talent acquisition leaders have two options. You can react to shifts on the fly, or you can envision what an upswing or drop in hiring might look like and create playbooks for how you should respond.
The latter exercise, called scenario planning, helps organizations make smarter decisions. By laying out scenarios methodically, talent leaders can arrive at responses that they might not otherwise think about in the heat of the moment.
“There’s always going to be these upward and downward shifts that we need to respond to as leaders,” says Liam Walsh, senior director and head of product recruiting at LinkedIn, who recently led senior members of the LinkedIn talent acquisition team in scenario planning sessions. “It’s important to step back and look at scenarios in a more objective way, when you’re not in the red-hot stress of that situation.”
Scenario planning can also help improve team morale. During times of major shifts in demand, it’s natural for talent acquisition team members to feel overwhelmed. “It feels like whiplash,” notes Jennifer Shappley, VP of global talent acquisition at LinkedIn. Team members are likely to feel calmer during periods of volatility when they know that their leaders have a plan in place, Jennifer says.
Set goals and ask questions
Before embarking on their scenario planning exercise, Liam and Jennifer identified their objectives: They wanted the LinkedIn talent acquisition team to be ready to respond to ups and downs and to be better equipped to advocate for their own specific goals.
With that in mind, Liam conducted a two-hour scenario planning workshop. Senior members of the LinkedIn TA team were split into two, with one group focused on what might happen if hiring surged within the next 12 months, and the other focused on what would happen if hiring fell.
Each group tackled the same questions. Among them: How would the given scenario affect capacity needs? What expectations would members of the talent team have? What actions could the talent team take now to prepare for a given scenario?
Identify must-have information
In a key part of the exercise, participants discussed the facts they would need from others in their organization if hiring surged or dropped.
For instance, if demand accelerated, the talent team would require detailed workforce plans, they concluded. “Where is this headcount going to be added?” Liam says. “In which functions are we going to add headcount? In which regions will we add that headcount?”
“As we navigate different shifts in demand, we’re already prepared with the questions we have for key partners and stakeholders,” Liam adds. “What information would we need from our partners, from business leaders, from the finance teams, to enable us to make good decisions?”
Write a playbook and update it
After the groups met, they shared their conclusions. Using the information, the LinkedIn talent acquisition team leaders wrote playbooks for how to respond to significant increases and decreases in hiring.
They can now turn to these playbooks for guidance should the need arise. The plan is to revisit them twice a year and adjust as market conditions change.
“There are things externally that impact us deeply in recruiting,” Liam says. “While we can’t control those things, we do own how we can respond to them.”
Should you engage in scenario planning? Liam believes it’s a worthwhile exercise for talent teams that requires limited time and resources.
“It’s not a heavy lift,” he says. “We decided to keep it simple.”
Better yet, the payoff can be significant. You will likely sleep better knowing you have guidelines in place that prepare you for whatever may come.
“This is like a gift you’re giving yourself in the future,” Liam says. “Do it before you need to do it.”
Courtesy LinkedIn Talent Blog. By Phyllis Furman. Article available here.