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How to develop a workforce strategy

By Beatrice Thomas

While there are a number of components available to developing workforce strategy, they can be boiled down to the six Bs” of talent management: buy, build, borrow, boost, bounce and bind. 

Buying” your talent and skills requirements puts the focus of workforce development on recruiting staff.  

However, there are cons to this for companies, particularly for small to medium-sized businesses, which tend to use it as their primary strategy. 

"Employers really need to think about a diversified strategy when thinking about how they're going to attract workers,” sayCCIWA Workforce Skills Manager Rebecca Elder. 

"On top of an existing skill shortage, we now have further problems arising from COVID, plus changes in migration and changes in population growth. 

"You don't want to end up in a situation where you're competing with large companies with deep pockets. 

Buying is really becoming less and less of an option."  

Read more about best-practice recruitment here. 

Learn about effective job interviews here.

Building your talent means focusing on developing internal talent and training up staff within your business.  

While most people see building as a second-choice option when you can't afford to buy, this isn't necessarily the case. 

"When you have certain limitations around buying, building may be more of an option," says Elder. 

"Some companies use building, as opposed to buying, as a method to attract and develop talent that meets their needs.  

Sign up for our eLearning course on Building and ManagingTeams. 

See CCIWA’s Work Integrated Learning (for interns) here. 

Find out about ASA’s group training programs here. 

Borrowing” to meet your skills needs means partnering with other organisations with talent.  

This strategy focuses on alliances and joint ventures, or public-private partnerships.  

An example of this would be the Novo Rail Alliance between Laing O'Rourke and Transport for NSW. 

The alliance allowed the rail corporation to capitalise on its strengths in rail operations, safety and assurance, while leveraging the engineering enterprise Laing O'Rourke's construction skills to complete the works. 

In Western Australia, there are a few examples of business collaboration to develop talent such as the NETTS offering in oil and gas as well as CCIWA’s program within power utilities to develop electrical power engineers with whole of network knowledge.

See CCIWA’s Industry Graduate Program (for graduates). 

Boosting” staff involves accelerating staff promotions and development. 

The strategy focuses on succession planning, whereby key staff are identified for senior and management-level positions and then given the relevant support and training to take up those roles as required. 

“There is a misconception that succession planning is about management roles, but it's actually not,” says Elder. 

"Succession planning should be considered for all key roles in a company to ensure there is a backup for critical functions." 

For more read: Succession planning: 5 things to consider 

Bouncing” strategies involve moving underperformers out of the organisation through performance management or redundancy. 

The focus is on ensuring your workforce is equipped with the right talent so your business can thrive. 

Bouncing can also extend to restructuring and moving an employee into a different role that allows them to better develop their skills. 

Several indicators are used to identify underperformers, such as poor-quality work, missed goals and deadlines, an over-reliance on others, difficulty working with others, and not embracing company values.   

For more see:


Binding” is a focus on retaining employees with high potential and talent. 

When trying to encourage talented staff to stay with an organisation, it's important not to rely on golden handcuffs, or using financial incentives to encourage talented staff to stay. 

This is especially the case in WA, which offers high-paying mining jobs. 

“We're already inherently a competitive workforce, before we even have any pressures of economic booms,” explains Elder. 

“As a heavily resources-focused state, we're also competing with an industry that has the propensity to pay really high wages where most industries can't compete. 

Company culture, work-life balance and skills development can be highly motivating incentives to keep valuable staff.

Read: 5 ways to attract workers in a tight labour market 

           Attraction and retention of staff 


  1. Develop a business strategy   
  2. Scan the environment   
  3. Model the workforce   
  4. Identify the skills gaps   
  5. Develop a workforce strategy   
  6. Implement the workforce strategy   
  7. Monitor and report 

Click on the links to explore CCIWA's workforce planning model. 

While there are a number of components available to developing workforce strategy, they can be boiled down to the six Bs” of talent management: buy, build, borrow, boost, bounce and bind. 

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