News that the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a baby boy has been rapturously received around the country and indeed the world. How Kate’s pregnancy and subsequent maternity leave might impact her Royal duties was unlikely to have been the first thought of the Royal Family (indeed, in centuries past, giving birth to an heir would have been her sole duty!). However, for thousands of employers with perhaps less of a guaranteed revenue stream than the British monarchy, the issue is a pressing and serious one.

Imagine a scenario where a senior HR professional has a workforce dominated by a high percentage of women holding positions throughout the business. At any one time, it’s anticipated that a significant proportion of the workforce are pregnant or on maternity leave. Of course, the business would be incredibly supportive of pregnant employees and spouses, offering flexible hours and a generous maternity scheme, but they would experience the challenge of a constantly and unpredictably shifting workforce.

In such a situation, workforce planning is essential if talent gaps are to be plugged, but how to anticipate exactly where these will appear? Of course, it’s impossible to know, but having in place a comprehensive recruitment strategy can help safeguard against being left with a short-term vacancy and no-one lined up to fill it. A strategic recruitment document should lay in place a framework for recruiting staff which is perfectly aligned to requirements – and this can be specifically tailored to the timeframes associated with maternity leave. Once a framework is in place, ideal sourcing strategies for short-term cover can be identified and a pool of candidates readied. A well-defined strategy will enable HR directors to elect whether this cover is made up of secondments, fixed term contractors, temporary staff or a mixture, which will depend on the specific nature of roles needing to be filled and exact skills set required.

The key to dealing with any workforce shortage is planning, which is exactly what a recruitment strategy is put in place for. It means that companies are less reactive when trying to fill vacancies, which tends to lead to less reliance on third-party agencies, a better quality of candidate and reduced cost.

Of course, no amount of planning or strategising in the world can find you short-term cover for a King or Queen in waiting, which is why the Royal approach to succession planning is so interesting. But for the HR directors not employing princely talent, encouragement can be taken that at least the challenge isn’t an insurmountable one!

If you want to discover more about what a recruitment strategy could achieve for your business, visit our consultancy division.

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