2020-07-06 HR Examiner article Neil McCormick Managing your Workforce post pandemic stock photo img cc0 by nicolas weldingh mLxbhP EvM4 unsplash 544x680px.jpg

“This article highlights a framework of initial questions leaders should be asking about their business post-COVID-19. The steps detailed below are a summary of programs that have been successfully used over many years of consulting. They are equally applicable to small and medium businesses as well large enterprise. ” – Neil McCormick

Will your workforce requirements post-COVID-19 change?

There is nothing like a crisis to trigger significant reform. The world is, rightly, focused on the COVID-19 Pandemic. The economies of many countries are in hibernation. “Uncharted Territory” describes where most businesses across the globe find themselves. One thing is for sure. When we all get past this disaster, the world will have changed. Companies will need to be agile to keep up with changing client demands and supply chains.

Many executives are in “lockdown” with time to contemplate what their business might look like in the future. Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your business. Will everything be the same after COVID-19? Or, will you need to make substantial changes to your company? Way back in 2010, I wrote an article titled What’s the Objective?. The content of the material may add some value and give some additional points to ponder as business direction and objectives are decided.

Once decisions are made about the future of the business; any new business objectives, clients and markets, products and services, potential automation of systems and processes and, the business structure, then it is time to think about the workforce needed to deliver these objectives.

A point of caution before I continue; When business is forecasting or planning, many variables need to be considered and decided. None of us can see the future, so, it is advantageous to document and continuously monitor all the assumptions and variables on which strategies and decisions are based.

This article highlights a framework of initial questions leaders should be asking about their business post-COVID-19.

In 2011, we developed a model for continuously aligning the workforce to aid the delivery of business objectives. It is titled The Infinity model.


The Infinity model promotes a continuous process of checking and evaluating how the workforce is delivering against business objectives. The variability of the current environment makes it critical to perform this type of scan continuously.

Now that you have a strategy to achieve your objectives, some additional questions to consider include:

  • Is your current workforce capable of delivering those objectives?

If yes, then do they need any additional capabilities?

 If no, then what capabilities will be required?

Does the business need new capabilities, better talent, more talent, cheaper talent or ‘all of the above’?

  • When will those capabilities be required?
  • Do you build, buy, or outsource any of the capabilities needed?
  • Are structural changes required to the business and the workforce?
  • Is the workforce needed to meet immediate challenges different from that required to position the business to achieve the future strategic vision and goals?

If it is different from the current workforce. How so?

  • What future scenario(s) are anticipated and, are they documented?

Have the changes been modeled in a scenario(s)?

  • What size & cost of the workforce does the business need vs. what can the business afford?
  • What are the critical positions required to deliver the objectives? (two of my previous HR Examiner articles titled What is Critical? and Criticality and Workforce Strategy may be of interest).

Having considered all these questions and documented the Strategy, the Assumptions and the high-level workforce requirements it is time to develop the workforce re-alignment plan.

Some additional questions to consider when developing the plan include but are not limited to the following:

  • What are some of the biggest workforce challenges currently impeding business goals/strategy?
  • What can be done today to optimize the workforce for tomorrow?
  • Is workforce productivity improving? If so, how much? How does the business stack up vs. peers?
  • From where does the business source its best talent? Does the business build, buy, or outsource this talent?
  • What are the critical strategic roles vs. critical operational roles?
  • What is the 1-year – 5-year retirement risk? What is the impact of lost skills/experience?
  • Is the business losing its best talent? Can turnover be reduced?
  • Can the business predict turnover, engagement, performance? What is risk vs. opportunity?
  • What is the bench strength for critical roles?

When business brings all of the knowledge and thinking together, it is possible to step through the Infinity model and develop a detailed plan to move the activity to reflect on the post-COVID-19 strategy.

1. Organizational Objective(s)

Reconfirm the Organizational direction and document the assumptions made through the process.

Document and share the articulated goals.

Align these goals to the required workforce Outcomes.


2. Define the work required to deliver objectives

Define and document any new work structures, work, and work processes required to deliver the goals.


3. Define Roles required

Map out the Organisation structure considering work, functions reporting lines and workforce positions/roles.


4. Define Critical Roles

Define the Critical roles for the delivery of targeted Objectives


5. Determine build capability, buy capability, outsource the requirement, or automate functions

Assess the work required to be delivered v’s the capability and competitiveness of delivering the work internally.

Does the business need to recruit for new roles?

Can existing workforce be upskilled to fulfill the roles?

Should the function or roles be outsourced?

Could a Bot be used, processes automated, or technology applied?


6. Develop Capability Model

Review the role statements/position descriptions and update as required focusing on the future workforce capability requirements.


7. Assessment of Current Capability

Assess and map the current workforce capability against future workforce capability requirements.


8. Measure Gap to future requirements

Determine the gaps in the current workforce and model the position/role requirements


9. Develop Plan and model Gap Closure

Develop a detailed plan to close the gap


10. Decide to Develop, Recruit, Contract or Outsource

Review the plan and finalize how the work is to be done.


11. Manage Gap Closure

Document the project plan and timing of the transition and set into action the steps and activities required to close the gap.

Ensure the project plan is integrated and covers systems, processes, workforce development, attraction, recruitment, and retention strategies.


12. Measure Gap Closure

Leadership should continuously monitor both the assumptions made in the planning phase and the plan and timing of the Gap closure activity against the current state.

Are the assumptions panning out?

Is the Gap Closure Plan on track?

If not, is there a need to adjust the Objectives and Strategy?

If not, is there a need to re-structure the Gap Closure plan.


13. Validate Data

Continuously validate that the information, particularly the workforce data, the business bases its decisions on is correct.


14. Analyses and recommend the future strategy


Neil McCormick Founding Member HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Based on any shortfalls in the achievement of Business Objectives or Workforce Gap closure, revisit and reassess the assumptions and Objectives. Realign the Objectives by aligning the assumptions to the current circumstance. Realign the Workforce Gap closure by aligning the forecast workforce activity with the present situation.


The steps detailed above are a summary of programs that have been successfully used over many years of consulting. They are equally applicable to small and medium businesses as well as large enterprises. All the detail of each of the steps is not included. However, there is enough detail to allow a business to begin to develop the strategies and plans to come through this pandemic with a workforce plan that supports the businesses objectives into the future.