Angelica Cantlon, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, International Flavors & Fragrances, examined the impact of strategic workforce planning on today’s organizations during her keynote address to Argyle’s CHRO membership at the 2016 Human Capital Leadership Forum: Fall Event in New York on Sept. 22. In her presentation, “Workforce Planning – an Integral Component of Business Strategy,” Cantlon described how workforce planning can help an organization assess, acquire and position top talent to succeed.
According to Cantlon, strategic workforce planning can help organizations gather valuable insights that drive improved decision-making.
Furthermore, workforce planning can help organizations identify and minimize risk – something that has become exceedingly important for organizations of all sizes.
“There is a tremendous amount of volatility, which is why workforce planning plays an important role (in today’s organizations),” Cantlon noted.
An integrated approach to workforce planning also can play a pivotal role in an organization’s success.
Cantlon pointed out that today’s business landscape continues to evolve, but a commitment to workforce planning empowers an organization with the tools and technologies needed to overcome myriad challenges.
“The business world is changing. The macro world is changing,” Cantlon stated. “Being able to have tools and functionality that allows us to be very proactive is very, very critical.”
Workforce planning involves more than just headcount, Cantlon noted. Instead, workforce planning is a truly strategic endeavor, one that requires collaboration among HR professionals and multiple departments within an organization.
“[Workforce planning] informs the business. It brings us insights on what the capacity and the capability is of the talent we need, and it helps us understand implications.”
Accomplishing an organization’s goals and how it will develop talent is paramount. As such, organizations that commit time and resources to workforce planning may be better equipped to achieve its goals and drive talent development for an extended period of time.
“You have to constantly review [workforce planning],” Cantlon said. “It’s even somewhat more iterative than some of the financial stuff you have to look at quarterly because you have things that are constantly changing that can affect things that you’re trying to do.”
The workforce planning journey can be complex, but organizations that understand what it takes to recruit, engage and retain top talent can reap the benefits of effective workforce planning.
Also, workforce planning can drive ongoing improvements that may help an organization foster long-lasting partnerships with employees as well as gain a competitive advantage over its rivals.
“[Workforce planning] informs the business,” Cantlon noted. “It brings us insights on what the capacity and the capability is of the talent we need, and it helps us understand implications.”
Successful workforce planning usually requires collaboration between HR professionals and C-suite executives as well.
Cantlon pointed out that IFF executives rarely, if ever, considered workforce planning in the past. But now, these executives communicate with HR professionals, and both parties will work together to determine how to maximize the talent and resources available across an organization.
“There was no real thought to what kind of talent do we need … and how hard it would be to find that talent,” Cantlon said. “[Workforce planning] really forced a set of conversations and thinking that [our executives] had never done before.”
However, today’s executives demand results, which means many HR professionals may face challenges as they attempt to implement strategic workforce planning.
“[Workforce planning] really forced a set of conversations and thinking that [our executives] had never done before.”
In some cases, HR professionals will be tasked with justifying their return on investment (ROI) in workforce planning technologies, while others may need to provide a broad assortment of data to ensure that executives understand the true value of workforce planning.
Getting executive buy-in is key for HR professionals to deploy effective workforce planning. If HR professionals can receive support from a CEO and other executives, they will be better equipped to drive strategic workforce planning for years to come.
“It really helps when you’ve got the CEO who totally gets [workforce planning],” Cantlon stated. “Although [our CEO] came to the table really believing in [workforce planning] … I think we were able to demonstrate the power of the work we did.”
Unfortunately, HR professionals will need to remain diligent and patient as they search for ways to obtain executive buy-in. But HR professionals who stay the course may be better equipped to help their organizations reap the benefits of strategic workforce planning.
With workforce planning in place, an organization will be able to identify and address its talent needs, along with how it can obtain top talent to ensure it can achieve its short- and long-term aspirations. Meanwhile, workforce planning likely will continue to evolve within an organization, particularly as new challenges arise that require HR professionals and executives to consider innovative ways to help an organization drive results.
Angelica Cantlon is Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer since August 2009 for International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., a global ingredient innovator, and manufacturer for major consumer products companies. Based in the company’s New York headquarters, Ms. Cantlon is responsible for the development and implementation of IFF’s global human resources strategy and building a sustainable human capital plan for the future.
Prior to joining IFF, Ms. Cantlon spent 10 years at MetLife, where she held various leadership positions, the most recent, Senior Vice President and International Chief Administrative Officer. Prior to that, she held executive HR positions at Morgan Stanley, Orion Capital Companies, Avon Products, and Southern New England Telephone.
Angelica’s work throughout her career has focused on significant acquisition transactions leading to successful integrations, including the Citi Insurance acquisition at MetLife.
Angelica serves on the advisory Board of Doc to Dock and on the Board of Healthy Children Directions and is an active volunteer with Cancer Hope Network.
Ms. Cantlon holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from Marymount College and a master’s degree with honors from New York University.