Those who fail to plan, plan to fail

Poor workforce planning can result in the critical shortage of senior level skills today. In this week’s blog post we discuss briefly about what workforce planning is and why manager’s today are finding it to be key in sustainable business growth.

What is workforce planning?

  • A business imperative; an executive responsibility

  • A core business process and strategy to ensure that the right number of people with the right skills is in the right place at the right time to deliver short- and long-term organisational objectives (CIPD)

  • A strategic response to changes in workforce demographics, business models and economic conditions – and in today’s environment, it’s more important than ever (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

  • A continuous future focused process concerned with aligning the needs of the employee with those of the business, and vice versa. It requires the examination and understanding of different type of occupations; global advantages; insulated and vulnerable occupations; supply and demand gap analysis; and evidence-based and targeted workforce development strategies – recruitment, retention, growing or buying your workforce and job re-design (Workforce Planning Australia)

Workforce planning is about vision and foresight.

Where will the business be in the future and what will it be? What is the organisation’s plan to achieve sustainable growth?

Furthermore, asking what’s needed to be done to attain that vision.

Questions such as what areas will expand or shrink? What resources will be required? Are the skills and competencies needed to gain a competitive advantage being developed currently within the organisation? Will there be a need to recruit in certain areas? If so, how many people will be needed?

Think of your workforce like a team of players, by having the vision of any threats or opportunities in an upcoming match you are able to create a strategy that sustains your players and also utilizes each player (employee) when needed in any scenario.

The basic process of workforce planning:

Determine business strategy – operations plan, people strategy, organisational strategy

Analyse and discuss available data – input information from data collection exercise, input resourcing information from HR and business managers.

Determine actions and implement plan – agree assessment and evaluation criteria, regularly review outcomes

Why is it important for managers?

Having good workforce planning can change the way that an organisation makes decisions. Good workforce planning allows organizations to see what could happen and it tends to make decisions on people more objectively and based on data. As with any collection of data, there can still be gaps in information, but workforce planning helps to change the conversation from “I think we need this many people” to “if this situation were to occur we need this number of people with this type of skill” and then be able to supply the best options for acquiring and retaining those people.

Without a workforce plan, organisations could undoubtedly lose large numbers of senior and key employees and also be unprepared for the market changes and ill-equipped to hire the best talent in a competitive and evolving global market.

Does your organisation have a current workforce planning strategy in place? What are your experiences with workforce planning? Share in our comments box below.

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