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Transforming Your Workforce: A Comprehensive Guide to Successful Workforce Development Planning

The Partnership

April 19, 2023

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Developing a Workforce Development Plan: A Buy, Build, Borrow, Bridge Approach 

In today's rapidly changing business landscape, companies need to be able to adapt and evolve to stay competitive. One of the most critical elements of this is developing a workforce that is agile, skilled, and able to drive innovation. To achieve this, companies must develop a robust workforce development plan with a buy, build, borrow, and bridge approach. In this blog post, we'll explain these elements and provide practical examples of how you can implement the elements within your organization.


The buy approach involves bringing in new talent from outside the organization. This can include hiring individuals with specific skills, knowledge, and experience that the company needs. For example, a real estate company might need to hire a specialist in sustainable building design to help them meet new regulatory requirements. Hiring externally can bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the organization and quickly solve skills shortages.


The build approach involves developing talent within the organization. This can include investing in training and development programs to help employees learn new skills, take on new responsibilities, and advance in their careers. For example, a property management company might offer leadership, customer service, or technical training to help their employees grow and develop. Building talent from within can help increase employee engagement, retention, and loyalty and foster a culture of continuous learning.


The borrow approach involves bringing in talent from outside the organization temporarily. This can include hiring contractors, consultants, or freelancers with specialized skills or knowledge to work on specific projects. For example, a real estate development company might employ a project manager on a short-term contract to oversee the construction of a new building. Borrowing talent can provide a flexible solution to short-term skills shortages and help the organization access specialized expertise.


The bridge approach involves retaining and upskilling existing employees to meet the organization's changing needs. This can include offering training and development programs to help employees transition to new roles or providing support for employees at risk of being displaced by automation or other technological changes. For example, a real estate investment firm might offer training in data analytics to help its finance team transition from manual reporting to data-driven decision-making. Bridging talent can help increase employee retention, build loyalty, and create a culture of lifelong learning.


When developing a workforce development plan, it's essential to identify clear objectives that align with the organization's goals and values. Here are some examples of objectives you can achieve through a buy, build, borrow, bridge approach:

  • Employee Retention and Upskilling: Retain and upskill existing employees to meet the organization's changing needs and reduce turnover.
  • Employee Experience: Improve employees' overall experience by providing opportunities for learning, growth, and career advancement.
  • Innovation: Drive innovation by bringing in new perspectives and expertise from outside the organization.
  • Organization Design: Develop a workforce aligned with the organization's goals and values to meet future demands.

Developing a robust workforce development plan is critical for companies that want to stay competitive in today's fast-paced business environment. By adopting a buy, build, borrow, bridge approach; organizations can ensure they have the right talent with the right skills to meet their changing needs. Remember, the key is identifying clear objectives and developing programs aligning with your organization's goals and values. You can create a learning, growth, and innovation culture with the right plan to set your organization up for success.

Download the PDF Quick Guide.


Mike Cardus: BNP Executive Exchange Facilitator: 

Mike is an experienced managerial leadership and organization development practitioner with over 15 years of expertise; he specializes in maturing organizations through evidence-based practices that promote long-term sustainability and increased value for stakeholders and customers. Mike’s track record includes a history of achieving double-digit percentage gains in engagement, satisfaction, retention, and work quality through targeted interventions that foster trust, unified cultures, and high-performance teams. He is an expert in using complexity-thinking, human-centered design, and people strategies to align cultures and values, spur positive change, optimize the human experience, promote collaborative problem-solving, and drive ongoing learning and career development.

Learn more about Mike. 



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