[NB: Please refer first to guidance documents provided for background and context.]

Q: Our agency already has a comprehensive organisational strategy ad an HR strategy that meets our needs. Why do we need a Workforce Strategy?

A: The development of a Workforce Strategy should not require you to replicate any existing work. It does, however, require your agency to show alignment between business priorities, projected results and a planned approach to managing the people aspects of your business over the medium to long term. Many agencies will have already undertaken much of this thinking, and will have the information in various forms. If the work you have undertaken answers the questions included in the guidance, you should submit what you already have. If it doesn’t, we suggest you summarise and highlight key business drivers with workforce implications from your organisational planning and use these to frame your Workforce Strategy, following the guidance provided.

Q: How do Workforce Strategies relate to other accountability documents, such as the four-year budget plans, that we are required to produce?

A: A Workforce Strategy should show how agencies intend to manage the workforce implications of their desired future state. Each agency will need to draw on Government strategic and budgetary priorities, as well as their own strategic and organisational planning, for this thinking. The Workforce Strategy will then feed into each agency’s Four-year Budget Plan and other accountability documents such as Estimates, Statement of Intent and Output Plan.

The diagram contained in the Guidance document (www.ssc.govt.nz/workforcestrategy-guidance ) shows how the various documents and work programmes fit together. However, the diagram shows only the intended relationship of documents, rather than timing. Similarly, not all documents relate to all agencies.

Q: What research and consultation has been undertaken to ensure Workforce Strategy development is meaningful and relevant to what our agency is trying to achieve?

A: The SSC Workforce Strategy Team has met with a wide range of groups, networks and individuals across the State sector to explain the context and canvas views on Workforce Strategy development. Those consulted included the Committee of Ministers on State Sector Employment Relations, the Public Service Chief Executives Employment Relations Group, the Chief Financial Officer Network, the G9 HR Managers’ Network (and other relevant HR networks), the Employment Relations Network and the Public Services Association.

The information gathered was then provided to a reference group tasked with developing the guidance provided. That reference group included senior finance, HR and operations and planning managers from a range of agencies, but predominantly those from the first group of agencies required to develop their strategies.

Q: My department is in the first group of agencies required to produce a Workforce Strategy. Timeframes are tight and we have not planned for this extra work stream – what sort of help do we get?

A: Agencies in the first group have been selected because they are generally well-advanced in the thinking needed to develop Workforce Strategies. Most of them will have been involved in the consultation that has taken place and should be reasonably prepared for the task ahead. The SSC Workforce Strategy team will support agencies to use the guidance provided to develop their strategies, but will do this in an advisory rather than hands-on capacity.

Q: My agency is not in the first group of agencies undertaking a Workforce Strategy. When do we need to start work on this? Will we get model strategies to use as a template?

A: All agencies not in the first group should begin work now to integrate Workforce Strategy development into their business-as-usual and planning processes. This will take the pressure off deadlines next year and ensure better quality results. The SSC Workplace Strategy team hopes to have some case studies of Workplace Strategy development available at a later stage, based on the experience of some of the agencies in the first group. But it’s hoped that agencies will each develop strategies unique to their own circumstances; no templates will be provided.

Q: Given the current political and fiscal environment, isn’t this work just another way to reduce the public sector headcount?

A: The tough fiscal environment means that all agencies need to find substantial cost savings within their baselines. It’s hoped that Workforce Strategy thinking will ensure cost savings are sustainable, so that services to New Zealanders can continue to be provided in a way that meets their expectations.

Q: Will the Workforce Strategies be public documents? What will happen with them, and who will see them and use them, once they are complete?

A: Each Workforce Strategy document remains the property of the agency or sector that prepared it, and so will not be subject to the proactive Official Information Act release the Treasury makes after the Budget is announced each year. Once an agency’s strategy is complete, SSC will work with agencies to confirm and provide advice to relevant Ministers. In some cases, an agency may be required to meet with Ministers, in which case SSC support will be given to help with presentation of the strategy’s key elements.

However, it’s believed that the key audience for this work will be the agencies themselves, who will be able to add value to their organisations, confident that the workforce requirements of their businesses have been considered, planned for and are achievable.

Q: We are stuck on exactly how to get this work underway. Is there any help on offer?

A: The guidance provided should be a solid starting point for developing your agency’s Workplace Strategy. The SSC Workforce Strategy Team is your first point of contact if there are problems or queries. Each agency has been assigned a person within the Team to contact should they have any questions not answered in the guidance. The SSC website will also be regularly updated with any further information and tools (See www.ssc.govt.nz/workforcestrategy ). However, agencies must expect to develop strategies that are unique to their own circumstances; no two Workforce Strategies will be the same and no templates will be provided.

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