What is workforce planning?

Workforce planning is no simple task. Making sure you have the right staff at the right time can be a hard puzzle to solve.

It is the process of making sure your business has the required staffing levels now and in the future. It is a strategic process where understanding the needs of your company are vital. You need to look at all levels of employees to ensure planning is successful.

What are the key elements for effective workforce planning?

It involves four key elements:

  1. The review of business plans to ensure that staffing is adequate to cover any upcoming projects.
  2. The forecasting of future environmental and market conditions that may affect staffing.
  3. The need to identify areas of repeated understaffing and their root cause.
  4. Methods of examining the current workforce to spot deficiencies. This includes an understanding of current employees’ skills and whether they meet future needs.

What are the ideal steps in workforce planning?

Many models help with it. The five-point strategy below is one of the most commonly used:

1. Look at your current workforce plan: This means gathering relevant information about your current plan and looking for ways to improve it. You will need to undertake discussions with heads of departments to ensure you address all areas of your business.

2. Look to the future: Try to assess what the future market climate will do to your workforce planning. Is there going to be an upturn? Is your market in a slump?

3. Look for areas where the current workforce plan could improve: Look for areas of repeated understaffing. Try to understand the reasons why this is happening.

4. Set up a new workforce plan: Identify strategies that can help you meet your staffing needs and implement this in a new plan.

5. Implement the plan: Get the plan out to all heads of departments. Make sure they are aware of what needs doing and how.

Different types of workforce planning.

Workforce planning comes in a variety of different forms, including:

  • Operational needs. Some businesses have an operational need for staffing levels. This may involve having one member of staff deal with X amount of customers. In this system, you will need enough staff to cover all your clients.
  • Tactical needs. Some businesses need to have a specific level of staffing throughout the year. This can vary based on the time of year. This may require both short, medium, and long-term plans to be put in place.

Some popular workforce planning models.

The Equilibrium Model

This model looks at historical data to spot future trends. For example, if you have a poor retention rate, you may need to factor in new hires.

The Deterministic Model

This model looks at the things you know will happen in the future. This can be things like promotions or increases in demand for services (if work is seasonal).

Flow Models

This model asks simple questions and looks at how big changes will affect workforce planning. For example, are you launching a new product? Are you looking to shift your business into a different market?

What tools do HR managers need to effectively plan for their workforce?

I think the answer to this lies in the question itself. HR managers need to plan. They need to adopt a workforce planning strategy that suits their needs and make sure it is implemented. And if it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to change it.