If you are like most companies, there is an annual budgeting process where managers project personnel requirements for the upcoming fiscal year. Not every company, however, uses this exercise for more than short-term needs.
That’s unfortunate when the business world has a nonstop changing pace that requires more thoughtful staff planning. Narrowly focusing on who is needed to do the work every 12 months places restraints on an organization’s ability to remain competitive.
Besides, what seems to work today may be outdated one year from now with technology redefining how employees complete tasks. The overuse of “strategic staffing” does not guarantee that recruitment efforts target hiring based on current and future needs.
Rather, most hiring practices are tactical or even reactive. When an employee quits, the Human Resources department scrambles to find a suitable replacement.
An unexpected termination, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, is an opportunity to have a more effective process for planning the best approach to filling the open position.
Full support from senior management partnering with human resources to develop a staff planning solution that is truly strategic is necessary.
Why Should an Organization Bother with Staff Planning?
Using a staff planner to anticipate personnel needs of an organization provides a systematic approach to knowing what actions are necessary to meet those needs. Essentially, this process involves:
- Thoroughly understanding the current workforce
- Envisioning a future operating environment
- Identifying skillsets and competencies needed to move the company forward by overcoming challenges, seizing opportunities and thriving in the marketplace
- Developing and implementing strategies that builds the right workforce
With planning your workforce, you are one step ahead. Informed decisions about staffing will benefit your company in the short- and long-term. Not only does this process help with recruitment and hiring decisions, but other HR policies and programs improve.
You will be better able to recognize the best ways to use human capital efficiently and effectively. Ultimately, you will be able to create a workforce that is responsive to changing times.
Getting Started with Planning a Strategic Workforce
While varied approaches will apply from one company to the next, there are general steps across industries that are part of using a staff planner system.
Analysis of Current Workforce
The first step is strategically planning your staffing needs is to identify the demographics and competencies of your current workforce. Using technology that helps you conduct a skills inventory can streamline this process.
Data is entered upon hire and gets updated as employees advance in trainings to develop more skills. Each employee has a profile that follows everything from performance appraisals to promotions.
Forecast Analysis of Future Workforce Requirements
The purpose of forecasting is to identify which competencies will be required in the future for your company to be successful. Of course, this will require predictions of how the nature of future work will change.
Internal and external influences should be considered to give you a better prediction analysis. These may include:
- Company mission
- Economic Conditions
- Technological advances
- Market competition
Analysis of Skill Deficiencies and Surpluses
Next, you can use the data collected current employees and forecasting exercises to compare. Hopefully you have collected the right information that will help you identify which competencies are lacking. Additionally, you may also notice a surplus of competencies.
While this is good on some levels, you do not want skilled employees who bring no long-term value to the company. Instead, you want to develop a healthy balance to avoid human capital that becomes obsolete.
With this analysis, you can be proactive in dealing with this situation appropriately.
Analysis to Identify Solutions to Build Skills Among Current Workforce
Aligning this process with your company’s projected needs and use a variety of targeted employee development and retention activities.
A solution analysis is typically focused on optimizing current employees, while also considering what will be needed in the future. Therefore, you may need to consider alternatives to staffing positions.
Some organizations benefit from having a core group of employees skilled with their area of specialization. Noncritical work assignments are given to a contingent workforce.
Make Workforce Planning an Ongoing Process
Now that you have established a process to become more strategic in workforce planning activities, the work continues. This ongoing process influences every aspect of your company.
Critical success factors can help to guide activities your senior management team decides is best. Among them is to draw a link between the workforce plan and the strategic mission of your company.
Get as many stakeholders to the table as possible. This may include representatives from several key departments. Every thriving organization is inclusive of employee ideas.
Remember that decisions will influence your employees’ on-the-job success. Show that their input is valued and you have a better chance of experiencing company-wide success for years to come.