Human Capital Planning


3M has implemented a comprehensive human capital planning process to support its growth strategy. 3M has identified workforce gaps and developed sustainable strategies for attracting, developing and retaining talent.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • Lack of a sense of urgency at the senior leadership level around employability
  • Lack of data in tracking organizational dynamicsHard-to-fill roles that require both technical and leadership skillsIncreased growth ambitions, as 3M expects to fill 4,500 positions in the next three years (including turnover)
  • Insufficient numbers of next-generation leaders to replace retiring baby-boomers:
    • The average age of employees at 3M is 43.5 years, and by 2015 this will have grown to an average age of 46.5 years. Thus, succession management is increasingly important.

Workforce plan:

  • A sense of urgency among 3M’s leadership was created by the HR team.
  • HR and business leaders identified the implications of 3M’s five-year business plan on workforce needs.A gap analysis was performed. 
  • An action plan was implemented to highlight internal company strengths and develop sustainable workforce strategies:
    • Policies were designed by the Centre of Expertise Talent Management for West Europe, country-level HRMs, Talent Solutions Managers and Business Leaders.
    • Policies were communicated on a Country/Region Board level and through Works Councils (employee forums).
  • The way in which employees and business leaders approach workforce planning has been transformed.
  • 3M has created the Centre of Expertise (COE) for Talent Solutions to lead the human capital planning process and enforce compliance and alignment between various countries and regions.
Why has it worked?: 
  • Global talent strategy has been adjusted to meet regional differences and needs. This has been a step-by-step approach. 
  • The human capital planning strategy is high on the agenda of the Country/Region Board of Directors.
  • 3M is now using hard data to track organizational dynamics.An Excel-based work tool supports human capital planning and 3M is moving towards an integrated technology platform for workforce planning:
    •  The internal mobility rate increased from 1% to 3%.
    • The annual productivity rate increased by 4%.
Conclusions and Recommendations: 
  • Organizations must move from “one size fits all” tactics to “one size fits me” tactics. Increasing workforce diversity means human capital planning must be innovative and open to reforming the traditional business plan to build a sustainable workforce:
    • Create a vision and mission.
    • Understand and communicate your local demographics/ labour market dynamics and their potential future effects. 
    • Design a process.
    • Put it on the agenda of the board of directors.
    • Change HR agenda: Move from PowerPoint stories to Excel data.Get early support from the Works Councils or unions.
    • Support local organizations.
    • Link human capital planning to the health of the organization and sustainable workforce tactics.
    • Regional management teams should be flexible regarding talent mobility, leadership styles and generational differences.
    • Create an environment where all employees can grow.
Foundational Issues: 
Information gaps
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 1: Collaboration within the organization
Economic and political context: 

3M Financials:

  • Sales: US$ 26.7 billion 
  • Profits: US$ 4.1 billion 
  • Assets: US$ 30.156 billion 
  • Employees: 80,057
  •  Source: 3M 2010 Annual Report

 Western Europe is demographically diverse from a cultural, political and socioeconomic perspective:

  • The population of Western Europe is declining, the retirement age is increasing, and the demand for a highly skilled workforce is on the rise.
  • The unemployment rate is uneven across Western Europe:
    • 10.2% unemployment on average 
    • 4.5% unemployment in the Netherlands 
    • 22.6% unemployment in Spain

(Source: Eurostat October 2011.)

About the Author(s): 
  • 3M is a diversified technology company serving customers and communities with innovative products and services.
  • 3M manages its operations in six operating business segments: industrial and transportation; health care; display and graphics; consumer and office; safety, security and protection services, and electro and communications. 3M products are sold through numerous distribution channels.
  • 3M EMEA has more than 19,000 employees working in offices, manufacturing sites and distribution centres in more than 30 countries throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.