Great employers don’t rely on luck in finding and keeping the right talent. Instead of leaving things to chance, they spend huge amounts of resources in hiring and retaining excellent people. The best products and services, after all, can only come from the best workforce. Get the wrong crowd on board, and your sales will surely suffer.

Casting the dream team requires money, reputation, and most of all, time — which should go to workforce planning. In HR, we understand workforce planning as one of the tried-and-tested measures against employee turnover and hiring people with the wrong skillset. But done smartly and thoroughly, it can be an effective way to future-proof a business. Visier gives us the three key actions that workforce planning consists of :(1) projecting labor supply based on your company’s current status; (2) capturing labor demand for where you want the business to go; and (3) taking the needed steps to narrow the gap between the two.

To accomplish all these actions, you should have a clear view of data such as your company’s long-term goals, skill gaps, and attrition rates. It’s also important to know whether your company wants to explore new geographic markets or to expand its product or service offerings. Likewise, you should consider external factors in your plans and projections. Not only should you look into your company’s current state; you also have to see the economic, political, social, and technological issues or developments that will, in one way or another, affect your hiring and retention strategies.

Challenges and roadblocks

But make no mistake: embracing workforce planning or any of its variants as a business process doesn’t yield solutions overnight. Not, especially, if you fail to put enough care and thought into the process. Research shows that a lot of companies still struggle with getting or keeping enough of the right people. And that’s despite all the tools — human resource information systems (HRIS), applicant tracking systems (ATS), and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions — tucked under their belts.

Why is this so? Gartner attributes the opportunity to having limited and mostly internally produced workforce data. This leads to the creation of plans that merely react to your company’s concerns, instead of ones that preempt and make you invulnerable to future challenges. Another problem is that some companies don’t have enough expertise in analyzing external labor market data, let alone in making the most of them. They have access to all the information that they will ever need, but they don’t have a clue on how to use them to their advantage.

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that today’s organizational structures and roles are changing at warp speed. New business models and technological advancements are being born as we speak. That said, sticking to a workforce plan that you made last year  (assuming your organization conducts its planning annually) may only give you as much results as not having any plan at all. It’s tragic, but it’s not far from becoming true.

Working out a great workforce plan

A great workforce plan is both smart and strategic. It’s coherently tied with business goals and takes in all the factors that play into talent acquisition and management. It’s heavily informed of recruitment and technological trends. Here are a few tips that can help you work out your organization’s next workforce plan.

Invest in workers with high-demand and “disruptive” technology skills. Unless your company was built upon the idea of not living off innovation, it’s wise to invest in talent that will help the business use technology and the internet to its advantage. Having people with a rich background in software development, machine learning, data science, and user experience is one great way to make your organization future-ready.

Review your industry’s trends and workforce characteristics. What skills are your competitors looking for? Are there startups in your industry? If there are, who are they hiring and how are they expanding their market presence? What global and local trends are predicted to have a huge impact on companies like yours? These are some of the most important questions you have to answer.

Look outside your industry. The need for exceptional and transferrable skills emerges as products and services evolve. Car companies are now hiring geographic information system (GIS) and artificial intelligence (AI) experts. Tech folks have found their way to banking and finance, while healthcare experts have begun thriving in software development. Note: This tip has proven to be of great benefit to companies that create products or content for highly specific markets or industries.

Stay updated. Keep tabs on the latest events, issues, and developments in politics, trade, economy, foreign policy, and education. Doing so gives you a good grasp of all the external factors that will influence your workforce plans.

Does your company practice workforce planning? What other ways do you think can help HR teams put together a great workforce plan? Feel free to share your insights below!


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