Planning without action is an exercise in futility. However, worse than not enacting plans is acting without planning. This is because, without plans to attain a goal, you’re leaving important decisions up to chance rather than decision. What prevents most companies, and individuals, from planning ahead is an apparent lack of time and continuously deprioritising planning time. The disjunction here is that without a plan things take longer to do. Furthermore, you’re more likely to paint yourself into a difficult corner which means a company will take longer to attain a goal. Accordingly, workforce planning is a good strategy that has big upfront advantages with long-term continual benefits.
What’s Workforce Planning?
At its essence workforce planning is defined as aligning changing organisational needs with a people strategy. It’s a strategic decision by a business to undergo a systematic process that looks at a company’s future demands for skills. This type of strategising requires decisive action to generate the necessary data, analyse it and then create a strategy to develop an existing workforce to meet forecast demands. Thus, while it is possible for it to happen haphazardly, effective workforce planning needs to be part of a company’s coordinated longer-term strategy. Most companies do not have the optimal know-how to engage with a workforce process. It is therefore often best to engage an expert ahead of doing it.
How Can Workforce Planning Benefit an Organisation?
There are numerous advantages to workforce planning, and these outweigh the time and energy spent doing it.
10 Advantages of Workforce Planning
- Strategic and targeted skills development in line with attaining company goals.
- Inefficiency identification and skills profile targeting.
- Increased effectiveness and efficiency of policies and processes.
- Improved productivity and quality.
- Better organisation and department coordination.
- Improved response to customer needs.
- Reduction of labour costs due to increased deployment and flexibility.
- Enhanced recruitment and selection, especially in relation to talent acquisition.
- Better resource allocation.
- Increased employee retention.
Having a workforce strategy has the additional benefits of improving job designs, succession planning and better future-proofing of a company. It tends to result in fostering a learning and development focus, encouraging career planning and improving employee work-life balance.
Notable is that workforce planning enables better recruitment and management of talent as well as human resource planning. It can also result in improved organisational design and the definition of objectives and goals. However, it does not replace the need to engage with these processes.
The Basics of an Effective Workforce Plan
When to do workforce planning is as soon as possible and therefore ahead of any major company decisions. It is always applicable to a company, especially if it wants to grow and remain industry-relevant without misdirecting resources.
Before Anything Else, Preparation is Key – Alexander Graham Bell.
There are six fundamental and basic steps that need to be part of any workforce plan. Within the details of the plan, one can expect there to be variances. For example, how information is collected, what information is most pertinent and forecasting of industry trends.
6 Phases of Workforce Planning
- Defining Direction.
- Supply Analysis.
- Demand Analysis.
- Gap Analysis.
- Strategy Implementation.
- Progress Monitoring.
A Workforce Planning Strategy
To plan a workforce, one needs to know what a company’s overarching goals and objectives are. Following this, specific short-term and long-term organisational strategies can be clarified. Identifying potential changes and challenges within the 1 – 3 – 5-year timeframes is also part of phase one.
Thereafter supply, demand, and gap analyses take place. This should be contextualised within the relevant industry’s projected economic growth, changes, and trends. Some things to consider during this process are current workforce skills, how these are projected to evolve and expected attrition rates. A demand analysis is closely linked to a supply overview as it necessitates an understanding of current workforce requirements. A key question to be answered is how many staff are required to meet current service demands. Finally, the gap between current supply and demand vs future demand needs to be delineated. After which identified gaps need to be prioritised in order of what should be addressed first.
Then a step-by-step plan with measurable milestones and ways to monitor progress can be drawn up. Regular meetings to assess how efficient and effective the workforce plan is should be scheduled upfront. This enables timeous adjustment to the company’s strategy should it be required.
How to do Workforce Planning
It’s always possible to do something like this in-house. However, maximising the impact effectiveness of workforce planning requires expertise and external guidance. This also assists in unbiased analysis and better progress monitoring during strategy implementation. The Key Recruitment Group is experienced in assisting companies in successfully analysing, designing, and implementing workforce strategies. Contact us to discuss your company’s workforce plan with an expert.