Story by Gerlinde Hoyle, USAG Ansbach Public Affairs
ANSBACH, Germany — Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) is the latest buzz word throughout U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Ansbach. Following a two-day virtual training hosted by Human Capital Institute (HCI), a cross-functional team (CFT) of 14 garrison employees will collaborate weekly to develop strategies for future workforce preparation.
Col. Karen Hobart, USAG Ansbach commander, thanked participants for volunteering and said, SWP training is industry renowned and HCI’s most popular program.
“This two-day course is designed to promote a strategic shift in talent management practices/mindset, and will help us get after our skill gaps, shortages, turnover, aging workforce, and how to manage talent risks and expenses,” she said. “I took this training six years ago, and what I learned stuck and helped me see the organizations I served in.”
Additionally, Hobart said, while she was a battalion commander they also mapped out key critical billets and tracked pending losses, and with both these efforts and the ability to articulate them, it resulted in the battalion having manpower growth and stability.
Skill gaps, shortages, turnover, and an aging workforce are garrison-wide issues across Europe. USAG Ansbach is no different. Department of the Army (DA) Civilians usually serve overseas for three years, but can curtail their assignment and leave early. Additionally, the local national workforce is aging and moving towards retirement.
Once a desirable employer, the U.S. Army can no longer compete with host nation companies that offer higher incomes and appealing working conditions. For example, a current bill introduced by the German Federal Minister of Labor, Hubertus Heil, would establish the right to work from home for at least 24 days a year.
Daniel Jones, Administrative Services Division chief in the Directorate of Human Resources (DHR), along with Kelcey Feeney, Directorate of Public Works, are the leads for the CFT. The goal is to evaluate the garrison’s readiness and increase efficiency and performance of the organization as they prepare it for the future and mitigate emerging risks.
“The objective of the Strategic Workforce Planning cross functional team is to first see our workforce across all plains,” Jones said. “Our goal is to comprehend how we are balanced against authorized billets. This drill will allow us to determine strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in the manning structure.”
Hobart’s first address to the workforce while in command made her priorities clear. Her first line of effort is people. She talked early on to members of the garrison workforce, local nationals and DA Civilians, and based upon the feedback quickly pushed for the SWP initiative.
The garrison’s DHR coordinated the HCI class, and asked employees to participate and apply their new tools to future working groups like the CFT.
After two sessions, Daniel Jones and his CFT concluded that forecasting staffing level needs would allow the garrison to achieve readiness and performance objectives, as well as identify future manning shortfalls, and recommend prevention measures.
“HCI’s model takes workforce planning out of the theoretical realm and gives you a methodology and set of tools that you can implement right away, beginning in class,” he explained.
If the premise by HCI holds true, USAG Ansbach has a great tool to prepare for the ever changing challenges of the future.
“We are using this strategic approach for developing a culture of continuous improvement in the areas of quality and productivity so we can be a more agile organization and utilize our most valuable asset, our people, to their fullest potential,” said Jones.