Wondering how to help your business get ahead? Make workforce planning a priority.
It’s often said that people are the best asset a business can have – it’s called ‘talent’ for a reason. But while many companies claim to value these ‘assets’, many are ignoring a key tool which ensures those assets are ready to be mobilised and are strategically placed to best serve the needs of the business.
As the name suggests, workforce planning is all about planning – and that takes time, energy and resources in the initial stages. But the rewards come in the execution, where businesses can enjoy improved processes and greater efficiency and speed to hire.
When a company is expanding into a new market or adding a new product line, for instance, and needs to make substantial new hires in a short timeframe, workforce planning is particularly critical. In these instances, the company needs to act quickly and effectively or the opportunity is lost.
It’s a different approach to what most companies take: typically, when expansion plans require staffing, recruiters suddenly swing into action and new team members are brought on board ‘just in time’ in a reactive, ad hoc way. But with workforce planning, new hires aren’t only taken on in response to immediate needs. Instead, they’re part of a strategic Workforce Plan which aligns with the company’s multi-year business plan and ensures they are resourcing their business ahead of time in a smart, planned and coordinated manner that optimises internal talent pools while simultaneously attracting the best external talent.
Why workforce planning works
While a Workforce Plan will anticipate the staff numbers required to achieve the goals in the company’s business plan, it goes well beyond headcount. Instead, it lays out the skills and experience these people must bring, as well as how to attract and recruit them in order to meet these company-wide goals. With a more holistic view of talent gaps and future attrition, companies can recruit far more effectively and more proactively – as well as strategically. When it comes to your workforce, a little foresight goes a long way.
It’s not necessarily easy of course: sticking with the short term and the status quo takes less effort. However, the pay-off can be significant. Companies which take on workforce planning find they have greater control (and accuracy) over recruitment budgets, and that over time, recruitment costs actually drop. They also often experience a further recruiting trifecta: enhanced quality of hires, faster and more efficient hiring processes (once the initial system is set up) and greater employee engagement and retention (due in part to the fact that workforce planning values promotion from within, an attractive offer for potential and existing employees).
When you need to make workforce planning a priority
There are a number of triggers that can lead HR teams and hiring managers to think: “We need a Workforce Plan, asap.” Unsurprisingly, many of these are financial.
Companies facing a high cost-per-hire, high (and costly) time-to-fill metrics, or an undesirable employee churn will see workforce planning pay off. So too will companies undergoing significant expansion, particularly if there’s a feeling of frustration that the business has historically been slower to take up new business opportunities than is ideal.
People issues also build the case for workforce planning. If there’s high employee demand in your market, or your current staff members are failing to meet KPIs on time – or finding the pressure of covering for open roles is too much – the effort will quickly pay off.
Irrespective of the triggers for getting started, smart leaders understand the most compelling benefit of doing workforce planning: it will help you stay one step ahead. And in a crowded and competitive market, every step counts.
Kimberley Hubble leads Hudson’s RPO business in Asia Pacific and globally across EMEA and the Americas.
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