In Conversation With: Foresight – The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, and the benefits of effective workforce planning (Part 3)

In the final part of our In Conversation With series, Liaison Workforce’s Jack Mazzina and Foresight’s Danny Hodgson discuss managing flight risks with workforce planning, succession planning, and the organisation’s outcomes and results…

16 August 2023

Part 3: Flight risks, succession planning, and achievable outcomes

In the third and final part of our interview with Foresight’s Danny Hodgson, we discuss managing flight risks with workforce planning, succession planning, and the organisation’s outcomes and results.

Jack Mazzina (JM): What do you think is more important? Getting the data, or the outcomes that can follow using it?

Danny Hodgson (DH): Data is just data. Outcomes are what matter.

At the start of implementation, the customer told us that if they could create a recruitment demand plan, they could start to finally be proactive in the pursuit of talent to drive the service forwards. We hear this a lot. In order to achieve it, you need to shift the recruiting paradigm and learn what is coming up well in advance, including getting managers to think about the talent they are going to need well in advance of when they need it. It’s the only way to stop the “we need it tomorrow” approach to recruitment! For our customer, recruiting is already speeding up, and their reliance on expensive agencies and temporary banks is going down fast!

Beyond recruiting, we are working with them to use their data to better plan for knowledge transfer of upcoming retirees, which is a significant risk over the next 2 years. They are also now able to put more thought and time into raising their ED&I efforts, by having more time to attract diverse candidates, and also paying attention to parts of their workforce that are a risk of leaving.

Amazingly, they have even started having high level conversations about whether certain roles in the demand plan should even be replaced at all, and about how the skills of the future within certain disciplines need to start changing.

JM: How can workforce planning provide support for flight risks or itchy feet profiling?

DH: By adding in this simple but incredibly effective component, the organisation has a laser-like focus on individual flight risks within the business, why they are a flight risk, and the timeframe and risk level to the team/organisation. They can now equip the manager with the relevant resource and skills to try and retain these individuals, saving huge amounts of money on re-recruiting, retraining, and re-onboarding of new employees. Our analysis shows that for every individual they stop leaving saves them 60% of the outgoing salary. So, by way of an example, if they discourage 50 people leaving at a salary of £35k, they can achieve £1m in savings on this alone – a huge success.

JM: Is succession planning is an art normally reserved exclusively for the upper levels within a Trust?

DH: Quite a few of our customers have great succession planning process but perhaps only do it C-3, for example. The main reason they stop at this level is nothing more than a capacity issue. Well, this customer took it one step further. They wanted to understand as many succession gaps as possible in real time. So, we configured their process to understand for every manager who had a successor in place, who they were, and the timeframe they would be ready. They also asked managers who didn’t have a successor in place if that was a risk.

After 2 weeks, our customer had a report which told them who had a successor and who it was, and every succession risk across 65% of the organisation. They are now targeting those managers that need support and helping to create succession frameworks where necessary. This mitigates huge operational risk and also helps drive talent development and mobility internally, retaining the leaders of the future.

JM: That’s a great thing to aim for. To finish, how would you summarise your first year of working with this organisation?

DH: Hopefully, you will agree that the early successes of a well-deployed workforce planning programme are staggering, for this client, we are working towards a year 1 cost opportunity saving in excess of £2million.

Our work with them doesn’t end here though, we will be supporting the updating and refreshing of their workforce planning every quarter from here on in. Building capability and measuring ongoing successes, not to mention driving manager adoption even higher than the 65% they started with.

Linking back to the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, the workforce planning which has been implemented here will enable the organisation to have the right workforce in place, with the skills and support available to be able to deliver the kind of care people need.

So, all that is left to say is that everything described in this session is a repeatable framework that can be implemented within a matter of weeks.

JM: Thank you for joining us and sharing Foresight’s insights, Danny.

Catch up on Part 1 of the conversation below

Catch up on Part 2 of the conversation below

Speak to our experts to find out more