Wikipedia offers this definition: Workforce planning is a continual process used to align the needs and priorities of the organization with those of its workforce to ensure it can meet its legislative, regulatory, service and production requirements and organizational objectives.
Does the organization have a clear picture of what the organization’s current and future workforce should look like? What attitudes, strengths, behaviors, skills, values, knowledge, capabilities, and competencies do they bring to the quality of your offering?
The CIPD says workforce planning presents a significant opportunity for the senior leadership team, HR directors, and board members to drive the strategic end of the process and set the agenda for workforce change. The challenges of workforce planning are concerned with issues of world economics, technology, demography and changing social attitudes which influence how organizations are resourced.
Proactive people planning
At 10Eighty we believe that HR professionals have a key role in the process by working with managers to help them understand the implications of these issues and to pull together proactive workforce plans designed to meet operational targets and strategic objectives. Everyone claims that “our people are our greatest asset,” well effective workforce planning allows you support and invest in that asset and help them fulfill their potential.
Think of how often we hear “shortages of staff” cited when there are problems with customer service. Problems with staffing mean costs are incurred, profits diminished, service offerings disrupted, vacancies unfilled and there could be far-reaching consequences. A good workforce plan enables organizational effectiveness, with the right people in place to meet the changing needs and future opportunities of the enterprise.
Workforce planning is characterized by a number two key principles:
- Top-down commitment, support, and participation at all levels of management
- Effective communication with those both internally and externally throughout the process
A robust process will allow HR to assess and predict the demand for the current and future workforce mapped against supply and the needs of the marketplace. It identifies priorities and secures the workforce needed, and regularly reviews requirements through workforce planning.
Once a plan is instituted it enables workforce development which is the mechanism whereby the organization plans to equip employees with the training, skills, and behaviors needed to effectively deliver and improve services. It aims to support the service by providing workers with the right skills – future-proofing both organization and employees.
Future proofing the talent pipeline
It goes without saying that an organization’s business strategy usually has a range of organizational or functional plans to facilitate its realization and workforce planning needs to dovetail with financial, HR and communication strategies, and capital programmes. In particular, it’s important to consider the utility of appraising workforce capability regarding the talent pipeline and succession planning. Part of the process should explore ways in which future staffing requirements can be met by developing current employees, so workforce planning allows the identification of training and development needs for the long term.
When considering the implications of workforce planning, it might be useful to consider the following:
- The strategic direction of the organization
- The implications for operational planning
- Key projects, activities and commitment underway
- Areas of the highest priority and most in need of attention
- Budget implications
- Implications for staffing capabilities and numbers
- Competencies needed to succeed now and in the future
As with all aspects of the employee experience, it is crucial to monitor implementation and effectiveness of the planning process. The critical measure of success will be to assess whether the plan ensures that the organization has the people with the skills, knowledge, and experience required to achieve its strategic objectives.