Future-Proofing Your Workforce: Tips for Strategic Workforce Planning
Workforce planning is a prerequisite to boosting productivity and for organizations to run smoothly. When your organization overcomes workforce challenges, it can deliver high employee satisfaction, effectiveness, and retention rates. Efficient workforce planning prevents the hiring of candidates with the wrong skillsets.
Workforce planning has two major facets:
- Operational workforce planning – looks typically at 1-2 years into the future, maps existing skills, resources, and capabilities to fulfill near-term requirements.
- Strategic workforce planning – calculates the number of people required to execute long-term business strategy considering individual skills and capabilities.
Despite using software and tools, companies struggle to hire and retain the right staff. Companies that do not analyze available data may resort to reactive solutions rather than proactive plans, pre-empting problems and failing to answer challenges in the future.
Moving From Reactive to Strategic
Only 11% of the world’s organizations can resolve skill gaps and develop a future talent scenario. Moving up the maturity curve is no small feat. Companies must display focus and patience and follow these five tips.
1. Start small and at a pan-organization level
There is a popular misconception that startups and small businesses do not need workforce planning. On the contrary, workforce planning can yield positive results for startups with a shoestring budget or a unicorn that received a million dollars in funding.
Workforce planning is not the sole responsibility of the HR department. It warrants the participation of the departmental managers as they are aware of their hiring needs. They can participate in determining future needs and bring the best outcomes.
2. Compose a workforce planning team
A strategic workforce planning team will understand a company’s vision. To build one and make your strategic workforce planning process a success, you need the top management’s buy-in.
When the CEO, VP, or board member buys into the strategy and champions it, other stakeholders will follow. Next, the top members of the different functional teams, like the CFO, technology head, production floor manager, must be included.
3. Create effective and transparent lines of communication
All stakeholders must have an open and transparent line of communication. HR departments can send opinion surveys to managers and company leaders to understand their hiring needs and take stock of the skills inventory of each department to address existing gaps, including diversity.
Stakeholders can use intra-company messaging to share hiring requirements, updates and solicit feedback. Meanwhile, a common hiring dashboard can help HR and respective departments to plan and monitor the hiring process, vet applications, and hire candidates.
4. Track internal changes and evaluate needs
As your company grows, it constantly changes its scope of operations, staff profile, culture, and customer profile. Companies develop a diverse culture as it moves from an open and flat environment to a hierarchy-based environment or when it hires locally or from overseas.
You must continuously evaluate:
- Company’s brand image.
- Its performance in the market and against competitors.
- Workforce quality and nature like skillsets, competencies, productivity, etc.
- Attrition and retention rates
- Desirability as an employer
When the management checks if these changes align with their company’s vision, mission, and objectives, it will eliminate gaps and align your company’s growth with your long-term goals.
5. Set a conducive environment
You must bring multiple resources together to set the right environment for success, such as:
Data – a primary requirement for strategic planning. The typical data you need are:
- The number of existing employees in each role, their location, and pay.
- The number of temporary workers that need replacing and the temporary-to-fulltime conversion.
- Work history, skillsets, skill gaps, completed training, contribution to the team.
- The number of open positions in each job type.
- Retention and attrition rates for each team & location and its cause.
- Time-taken to fill an open position.
- Cost per hire for each role.
- Predictive data of employees at risk of leaving.
A software to gather and process information about your hiring trends, existing employment, and candidate/employee behavior, and then give a comprehensive report about the existing workforce, predict changes in staff profile, and forecast hiring needs.
Talent intelligence platforms can analyze professional history, personality, and skills/competencies and then judge the job fit of any applicant. It can produce detailed candidate profile reports that you can use to match open positions with the right people and bring the right skillsets to the organization.
It is okay to hire external consultants or specialists with knowledge and experience about the next revolution in the industry. Political and sustainability consultants can advise companies about the type of skills that candidates may need for leadership roles.
6. Keep your plans flexible
A plan or strategy should be perfect with no room for modifications once implemented. However, change is an inevitable part of business and life. Workforce planning is a dynamic exercise if companies want to bring in the right type of hires continuously. Market conditions, new competition, company growth, and other factors necessitate changes in hiring strategies.
The internal data, technology, and external advisory can create a targeted and streamlined strategic workforce plan. Companies need not follow strategies and plan to the letter but continuously plan and quickly adapt to changes when the probability of a specific development occurring becomes high.
Draup is an analytics-driven workforce planning tool that can eliminate challenges and make planning a fact-based, agile, and collaborative process. It leverages HR and business data to help companies perform the following activities:
- Right size the workforce
- Creates an accurate forecast
- Track workforce plans
- Align finance and people initiatives
- Provide information to prepare for mergers and organizations.