Workforce analytics is a powerful method used to improve hiring decisions and employee development. It’s gaining popularity, but workforce planning is still new, and most companies aren’t using it to its full potential.

In a recent report sponsored by Visier and released by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBR-AS) in September, 73 percent of organization leaders surveyed said they have experienced talent shortfalls leading to missed business objectives as a result of poor workforce planning.

If managing medical sales talent is a problem, you might have one or more of these workforce planning issues:

Finance-focused

Rawpixel; Bigstock
Rawpixel; Bigstock

Finding professionals with the right skills is one of the most challenging parts of the hiring process, especially in niche industries like medical sales. In fact, In PwC’s most recent Annual Global CEO Survey, over 70 percent of CEOs said the availability of key skills is one of the top three threats to their companies. In addition, 56 percent of recruiters surveyed by Jobvite said the lack of skilled or qualified talent is a key stumbling block.

Yet, in the HBR-AS study, 44 percent of respondents said their workforce planning is driven by finance and that it doesn’t take talent availability into consideration. For these organizations, the process is focused on the employee headcount, and the budget for hiring and keeping talent.

If your workforce planning is driven by finance and not skills, it’s missing the point. The planning is disconnected from the actual talent need. Don’t let budgets restrict hiring decisions. Instead, use workforce planning to plan for and hire the best medical sales talent with the specific skills you need.

Narrow view

Workforce planning should help employers gain a better idea of their current workforce and future needs, but many aren’t getting the full picture.

Although 72 percent of respondents in the HBR-AS study want to model and compare staffing strategies across locations, teams, seniority, skills, and other factors to develop better workforce plans, only 22 percent are able to do so now.

While some employers don’t look at the market trends, some have the opposite problem — they’re too focused on the market. You do need to understand the talent supply and demand of the medical sales industry, as a whole, but failing to look within your own company will leave you with data that doesn’t fit.

Are you getting the full picture of the medical sales workforce? Look both inside and outside your organization, to account for the market need and the specific needs of your company.

Limited data

Respondents of the HBR-AS survey acknowledged that their workforce planning needs improvement, but they don’t have the information they need to do so.

To improve planning, 57 percent said they need data on what positions and talent are required to meet business objectives, and 57 percent said they need data on what is happening with talent acquisition and attrition. Although respondents say they lack this key information, many companies already have this data — they’re just not using it.

The problem is the lack of communication between the hiring and business ends of an organization, and a lack of understanding of what information is needed for an effective hiring process.

Communicate with the different departments, to learn what data is available and what is needed. Then, let higher-ups know what data is still required, and what you need from them to get it. This data is critical to meeting workforce objectives.

Workforce planning is still in its early stages in many organizations, and there are many kinks that need to be worked out. Work with your organization to identify and obtain the data you need to make smart hiring decisions in medical sales.

What do you think? What are the main pain points in medical sales workforce planning?

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