Kristen Blog Pic

Realising the power of People Planning

Kristen Natale, Head of Volunteering at Sport England shares her thoughts on the new requirement on people planning in the revised Code for Sports Governance released by Sport England and UK Sport in December 2021.

Date: 30th Mar 2023

Author: Kristen Natale, Head of Volunteering at Sport England

The people who spend their time helping others to be active are our most precious resource and their potential is limitless. But how do we ensure that organisations can enable and empower their workforce of staff and volunteers to generate the impact we’re seeking to have on activity levels and tackling inequalities?   

People planning can be a really important tool in ensuring that your people really do make the difference to achieving your strategic objectives and delivering for the participants and athletes you support.  

The revised Code for Sports Governance released by Sport England and UK Sport in December 2021 introduced a new requirement on people planning. Requirement 3.4 sets out that  

“Each organisation shall have a People Plan and shall review and discuss it on at least an annual basis and share the findings of that discussion openly with its members and people (e.g., employees, volunteers).” 

I think there would be few leaders in sport and physical activity, and few boards, that would deny the importance of their people in delivering their strategic goals. We also know that the people who make up the sport and physical activity workforce are vital in shaping the experience of participants and customers.  

If people are so vital to achieving our strategic goals, then we need to plan strategically in order for them to reach their full potential.

What is people planning?

People planning is essential to ensuring the work of the organisation is delivered, supported, and led by a diverse range of people who are equipped and supported to meet the demands of their role and the changing needs of the people, communities, teams and athletes they interact with. 

Ensuring we have enough people, with the right skills in the right places at the right time to deliver is an important part of this. However, a good approach to people planning should go further than just skills and numbers and plan for how the workforce will reflect the diversity of the participants we seek to engage and deliver great experiences. It should also help organisations ensure positive experiences for the workforce too; planning for and providing high quality roles, opportunities for learning development and other support that allows people to feel valued and thrive in their roles.

Where to start

We appreciate that lots of Tier 3 partners tackling this new requirement in the Code will be starting from different places and with different levels of resource and capacity to support the development and implementation of a People Plan. But this doesn’t have to be daunting. As the CIPD say on workforce planning ‘it doesn’t need to be complicated and can be adjusted to suit the size and maturity of any organisation.’ The key thing is to take an approach to people planning that best suits your organisation’s needs.  

The guidance we’ve published in partnership with UK Sport provides a good starting point for developing your plan with some key questions to act as prompts for things to consider and identifies some key areas that we think are the foundations for a good People Plan.  

Everyone’s People Plan will look different and discussing how to approach this with others can help to refine your thinking about what approach you want to take and hear from those who might be further on in their people planning journey about what has worked well for them.  

The SGA Sports Governance Academy Code Requirements Networking Group provides a great opportunity to have those conversations and share what you’re working on. It aims to provide a safe space to share experiences, approaches, templates and ask questions of those at a similar stage or further down the line.

So, you've got a plan - what next?

The job of people planning is not done once the document is written shared with your team and signed off. The requirement in the Code suggests an annual review as a minimum but we’d encourage organisations to ensure their plan is a living, breathing tool for their organisation. It needs to adapt to the operating environment for your organisation and to meet the changing challenges and opportunities that might arise. It should also respond to data and insight you might gather on the experience of your workforce, training needs analysis or wider trends in the sector.  

A good People Plan will be developed collaboratively and will involve people from across your organisation and at different levels. Wider engagement with the plan should continue to ensure there is ongoing buy in and action taken to bring it to life and ensure it has a positive impact on your people and your strategic goals. This ongoing engagement will be key to realising the power of people planning for your organisation.   

Kristen Natale is Head of Volunteering at Sport England