Introducing the 6Rs Model: Evolving Your Workforce Strategy

Chris Blair

Written by:

Dr Chris Blair
B.Sc.Hons. Chem. Eng., MBA (Leadership & Sustainability), 
CEO of 21st Century
[email protected]

Strategic workforce planning 5Rs

Workforce Planning expanded with a new 6Rs model.

In the contemporary business environment, characterised by rapid technological advancements, globalisation, and shifting workforce dynamics, organisations face unprecedented challenges in workforce planning and management.

Traditional models – focused primarily on headcount – no longer suffice, as companies navigate the complexities of digital transformation, remote work, and an increasingly diverse and dynamic workforce.

This evolving landscape necessitates a more nuanced approach to strategic workforce planning, one that considers not just the quantity but the quality, disposition, cost, and culture of human capital.

The 6Rs framework—Right Size, Right Shape, Right Cost, Right Location, Right Skills, and Right Culture—emerges as a pivotal model for organisations aiming to thrive amidst these changes. This comprehensive approach enables businesses to adapt, innovate, and maintain competitiveness by ensuring their workforce is aligned with strategic objectives and capable of responding to future challenges and opportunities.

21st Century has developed a revised framework for strategic workforce planning that has evolved from the traditional 5 Rs to an inclusive 6 Rs model. This comprehensive approach addresses all elements within the strategic workforce planning (SWP) human capital flow in a logical and measured manner, ensuring all parts of the workforce dynamic are covered as shown in the diagram above.

The 6 Rs Model explained

The expanded 6Rs model provides a framework for organisations to comprehensively assess and optimise their workforce. By leveraging People Analytics within this framework, organisations can identify gaps, predict future trends, and align their workforce planning efforts with their strategic objectives. The sample tests provided for each “R” are critical tools for clients, offering specific, actionable insights that can help address the complex challenges of modern workforce management.

To fully articulate the necessity of the 6Rs in the evolving world of work, let’s expand on the introduction and delve deeper into the significance of each “R’s” metrics, concluding with the value derived from benchmarking these metrics for companies.

1. Right Size Metrics:

The analysis of staff-to-work activity ratios, vacancy rates, and new hires rate provides a quantitative foundation for understanding workforce adequacy. These metrics help businesses ensure they have the optimal number of employees to meet current and future demands without excess, thus avoiding inefficiency and reducing costs. Especially in a changing world where agility is key, the ability to right-size quickly in response to market dynamics offers a strategic advantage.

2. Right Shape Metrics:

Age/demographic breakdowns, functional percentage sizes, and promotion rates offer insights into the organisational structure’s effectiveness. By evaluating these metrics, companies can address generational shifts, anticipate future leadership needs, and ensure a balanced mix of roles that drive innovation and efficiency. As work environments become more diverse and inclusive, having the Right Shape ensures resilience and adaptability.

3. Right Cost Metrics:

Employee cost analysis, benefits utilisation rates, and payroll costs as a percentage of revenue are crucial for financial sustainability. These metrics help businesses manage compensation competitively while keeping an eye on financial health. In the face of economic fluctuations, understanding and optimising the Right Cost ensures that companies can attract and retain talent without compromising their financial stability.

4. Right Location Metrics:

Assessing staff distribution by location, remote versus in-office productivity, and local market salary rates are increasingly important as the workforce becomes more global and remote. These metrics allow businesses to optimise their geographic footprint and adapt to the trend towards remote work, ensuring that employees are positioned to contribute effectively from wherever they are based.

5. Right Skills Metrics:

Skills gap analysis, training investment per employee, and upskilling program engagement metrics are critical for future-proofing the workforce. As new technologies and business models emerge, these metrics ensure that employees’ skills evolve in tandem, enabling businesses to maintain a competitive edge through innovation and adaptability.

6. Right Culture Metrics:

Employee engagement scores and alignment between leadership actions and core values measure the health of an organisation’s culture. In today’s environment, where employee expectations are shifting towards more meaningful work and alignment with personal values, cultivating the Right Culture is essential for attracting and retaining top talent, fostering innovation, and driving performance.

Benchmarking these metrics against industry data offers clients invaluable insights into their competitive positioning and identifies areas for improvement.

By measuring workforce metrics against benchmarks, clients can objectively assess their performance, uncover gaps, and prioritise strategic interventions.

This not only enables more informed decision-making but also helps to articulate the value of workforce initiatives in terms of return on investment (ROI).


Clients who embrace this approach can anticipate better alignment between their workforce strategy and business objectives, enhanced operational efficiency, and improved financial performance.

Ultimately, leveraging the 6Rs framework, underpinned by robust benchmarking and analytics, empowers organisations to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace with confidence, ensuring they are well-positioned to seize opportunities and overcome challenges in the evolving world of work.

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