Launch a Workforce Plan

Launch a Workforce Plan

In this lesson, you’re expected to learn about the importance of workforce planning in human resource management.

Workforce planning

Workforce planning is a systematic, fully integrated organizational process that involves proactively planning aheadto avoid talent surpluses or shortages.

It aligns business and HR needs to ensure that organizations have the right people with the right skills, at the right time and cost to execute an organization’s short- and long-term objectives efficiently.

Workforce planning is based on the premise that a company can be staffed more efficiently if it forecasts its talent needs as well as the actual supply of talent that is or will be available.

It covers a diverse range of activities, such as succession planning, flexible working, job design, and many more.

With proper planning, you minimize risks associated with executing business strategy.

Whatever its precise form, workforce planning should be linked to strategic business goals and viewed as an important part of the strategic business planning process.

There are two main components of workforce planning: strategic and operational:

1) Strategic workforce planning takes the long view and forecasts critical roles that the organization will need in the future.

2) Operational workforce planning looks at the short term demands of the business, compares them to current talent supply, and determines whether additional resources are needed.

[Optional] What is Workforce Planning?
Impact of Good Workforce Planning

1) Eliminating uncertainty 

HR should limit the stressful “trauma” related to being surprised and should have the time to prepare processes and answers.

• Rapid talent replacement: Having the capability to rapidly figure out positions that are vacant due to sudden (or unavoidable) turnover so that production or services are not affected.

2) Smoothing out business cycles

By developing processes that regulate your talent inventory and work effectively.

• No delays: Ensuring that the company can meet production goals by employing the right number of people.
• The right skills: Ultimately increasing product-development speed because the company has the brightest people with the right skills to take products through to their launch–on time.
• Employee development: The ability to ramp up rapidly on new projects because the company has prepared and trained internal talent to meet the project needs.

3) Identifying problems early

If you have a system in place to notify managers before a talent gets out of hand, it will be much easier to minimize the potential damage. HR should develop a system of “alerts” to warn managers of minor problems (that they can rectify with little effort) before they turn into major problems.

4) Taking advantage of opportunities

Given sufficient lead-time, you can gather resources and the talent necessary to take advantage of positive opportunities.

Efficient management will free up HR professionals so that they can take advantage of talent-sourcing opportunities from a competitor as a way to find exceptional talent during tough economic times.

Talent Forecasting

Talent forecasting is a process for predicting upcoming changes in the demand for and the supply of talent. Forecasts are generally broken down into four areas:

1) Estimated increases or decreases in company growth, output, and revenue.
2) Estimates of the corresponding change in talent needs that comes from that growth. Estimates can include the number and type of employees as well as where and when they will be needed.
3) Projections of future vacancies.
4) Estimates of the internal and external availability of the talent needed to meet forecasts.

[Optional] The Importance of Workforce Planning
Developing a workforce plan
A workforce plan captures the current workforce profile, training and development programs, forecasts the future workforce profile, compares the current and future picture and identifies priority gaps to be bridged with workforce development strategies.

So, how do you maximize your workforce productivity and develop a workforce plan?

1) Context and Environment

Here are some of the questions you need to address:

– Why do we need to undertake workforce planning?
– What are our goals for this workforce plan?
– What are our organization’s strategic objectives (link workforce plan to strategic plan)?
– What is happening in the external environment (at an international, national, industry, regional or local level)? 
– What is happening in the internal environment?
– What is our business planning process?
– What are the links between business planning and workforce issues?

2) Current Workforce Profile

Here are some of the questions you need to address:

– What is your current workforce profile?
– What are the current skills and competencies of your workforce?
– What are your strengths and development needs?
– What is working well and what could be improved?
– What are the current workforce priorities, based on your workforce profiling and analysis?

3) Future Workforce Profile

Here are some of the questions you need to address:

– What future products and services will be provided by the organization?
– What will the future environment require?
– What is the workforce supply and demand for priority job roles?
– What future skills and competencies are required?
– What are the future workforce priorities, based on your workforce profiling and analysis?

4) Gap Analysis and Closing Strategies  

What are the key areas of need/action to move from where the organization is now to where it wants to be especially priority job roles?

Now, prioritise the ‘issues’ and develop an action plan with strategies to address gaps.

5) Conclusion, review, evaluation strategy and next steps  

Here are some questions that you need to address:

– What are the key outcomes of your workforce action plan?
– How will you evaluate the strategies in your workforce plan?
– What are the next steps for implementation of your workforce action plan?

[Optional] Workforce Planning Guide 
Check out this PDF created by the Institute for Employment Studies for a detailed guide to workforce planning:
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