The 3 M's of Workforce Planning

By Jennifer VonHagen

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Balance Mindset, Metrics and Mobilization for the Ideal Employee Experience


Amidst all the change we’ve seen in 2020, we know that the way organizations need to tackle workforce planning is changing too. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to think outside the box and learn new ways of working. A renewed focus on DE&I and social justice means we are thinking more about how to instill more fairness and trust into our organizations. And, having access to the right talent data has never been more important.

Successful workforce planning outcomes require a perfect balance of mindset, metrics, and mobilization – the 3 M’s of workforce planning. This balance provides the foundation for smarter decisions, stronger adoption, and more inclusive employee experiences.


You know that successful workforce planning involves strategically moving talent into the right roles, at the right time, to get the best possible outcomes. It also involves figuring out where you have gaps in critical skills and abilities, and understanding whether it's faster to buy or build those skills to fill the gap. In order to do all these things well, organizations need to adopt a new mindset around workforce planning that embraces the dynamic nature of both human capabilities and changing roles.

Instead of looking at workforce planning as a series of ‘one and done’ transactions, this new mindset views workforce planning as something more fluid - a call for ‘talent optimization’ that never ends. This mindset works by helping leaders understand and prioritize the unique skills and talents required to succeed in a particular role and then helps them see their available workforce through the lens of those unique skills and talents. Finally, this new mindset builds inclusion. It invites employees to be the CEOs of their own careers, empowering them to fully understand their unique skills and talents and encouraging them to embrace roles where they will naturally thrive.

At Plum, we call this mindset Talent Resilience. Talent Resilience is an unbiased, data-driven approach that accounts for the dynamic nature of critical jobs and human potential. Our Talent Resilience Platform empowers leaders to accurately align talent with business strategy at speed and at scale. It also shows employees explicitly how their unique capabilities lend themselves to a future within the organization.


Workforce planning requires making strategic, defensible decisions based on the best available information about your workforce. Unfortunately, most organizations grapple with a blind spot at the core of all workforce planning – their data. They lack an accurate way to understand the talent that exists in their workforce, and they end up cobbling together information from disparate systems chock-full of biased data to inform their decisions. Making workforce planning decisions that way is too risky.

To truly be successful and impactful, workforce planning efforts should be data-driven, using universal metrics that reveal the talent hidden at every level of an organization. At Plum, we’re providing leaders and HR professionals with the talent data they need to make strategic, objective and defensible talent decisions using quantified human potential - a metric that everyone can understand.

Quantified human potential is a universal, unbiased talent metric, rooted in industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology. Measuring more than hard skills and knowledge, it reveals a person’s innate Talents, including innovation, persuasion, teamwork, adaptation, communication. Often referred to as “soft skills”, Talents represent how we are consistently hardwired as humans. Talents are 4X more accurate at predicting how successful a person will be than job-specific skills and knowledge. They predict an individual’s behavioral competency for a role, rather than just their eligibility based on past experience.


Once you’ve identified the gaps that exist in your workforce and what bench strength you have to fill those needs, you’ll need to mobilize your talent. Successful talent mobilization hinges on creating buy-in for both employees and managers across the entire organization. Managers want to understand what talent they need to meet their team’s goals, and employees want to know how their unique abilities can contribute to their team’s success – while ensuring all talent decisions are fair and unbiased too.

Plum helps create buy-in for both managers and employees.

Using Plum’s Talent Resilience Platform, managers and HR teams create Match Criteria for each role on their team – laying out what Talents are required to be successful in the job. Meanwhile, employees complete the Plum Discovery Survey to unlock their unique Talents in their personalized Plum Profile. This matching allows managers and HR teams to look across their organizations to quickly find the employees who are most likely to be successful in each job, and to further explore putting them into those new roles. It also means that employees can put their hands up for roles where they know they will thrive, helping them drive their own careers.

By focusing on mindset, metrics, and mobilization, organizations can create inclusive employee experiences, while transforming workforce planning from a transactional activity to a strategic game-changer. Visit our workforce planning page to see how Plum can help you take your workforce planning efforts to the next level.