Workforce planning consists of a set of strategies engineered to maximize the use of resources to accomplish goals, estimate and plan for progress and outline the basis of decision-making techniques while anticipating the needs of the business in the future.
Integrating and aligning these strategies with the day-to-day operations of the business can dramatically increase productivity levels, while encouraging engagement and maximizing team performance, providing a vast array of benefits to the company.
The IPMA recommends that all workforce planning models are written in consideration of the “present workload, workforce and competencies,” while comparing the results of this with “future needs to identify gaps and surpluses.”
The fundamental rule of all workforce planning schemes is that they must be created to dissolve past and current issues while meeting and succeeding the requirements of the future, and call for human resources to analyze current trends and decide how to maximize or minimize patterns as the business grows.
To create a workforce planning strategy for your business, first define what your overall goals are. Whether it is to maximize engagement while improving employee networks, or revitalize employee/customer transactions while encouraging skyrocketing sales, the best strategies include goals that complement each other in some way, and can be closely aligned with the businesses current objectives and are feasible in the existing climate.
After defining your goals, the next step is to assess the current environment and decide why or how your organization is failing to meet these demands already. It might be a skills gap, or lack of development or minimal resources. Outlining these shortfalls and placing them in your strategy as areas that need improvement will keep the plan focused in that direction, and ensure these mistakes won’t continue to be made.
With this information in hand, the plan should be implemented into the workforce through partnerships with managers and directors. These influential figures can also help you measure the effects of the strategy as it progresses, and help to make edits or additions along the way.
The Schaefer Center for Public Policy published a study into the depths of workforce planning, and suggests some general areas of assessment when formulating your plan, including estimating the number of employees in “mission-critical functions” who may retire in the next five years, the turnover of new hires and their potential to succeed to management roles, survey results detailing intentions to stay with the company and current training expenditures and assessment plans for managers.
The report states that “appropriate resources in terms of funds, staffing and support systems will make the process easier,” meaning HR will be required to crunch the numbers of any intended workforce planning venture, especially if they are seeking to report a benefical return on investment.
After the workforce plan has been defined and implemented, HR must remain flexible and alert to changes among the workforce, and even more so if the plan is intended to span the timeline of the business over a number of years.
Unforeseen challenges can arise and pose potential threats to the equilibrium of the strategy, and no plan can feasibly suggest all possible outcomes over a given period, therefore leadership must be able to develop new ideas and recovery techniques should the environment change.
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