Workforce planning is the process of forecasting your staffing needs and working out the range of ways you can create and maintain the workforce in line with your business goals.
For many businesses including small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), undertaking workforce planning can result in an increase to business benefits and outcomes. Workforce planning and development will help you to achieve your business goals over the longer term.
Most businesses find they need to undertake workforce planning and development for one or more of the following reasons:
- Growth in: sales demand (local, interstate or international), new markets, new products/services.
- Decline in: sales demand from existing clients, number of new clients, supply chain.
- Changes in: market preferences, competitors, the economy (local, interstate and international), SME strategic plan, technology and equipment, productivity, job requirements, finance costs.
There are 5 key areas you will need to consider when undertaking your workforce planning.
- Context and Environment
- Current Workforce Profile
- Future Workforce Profile
- Gap Analysis and Closing Strategies
- Review and Evaluation
The Benefits of Workforce Planning
When you’re thinking ahead before you need to, you have the luxury of identifying issues before they arise and preparing for them. Some of the ways that workforce planning can benefit your business include:
When done properly, workforce planning provides you with a timeline of your staffing needs for the near future (and even further down the line depending how you do it).
Considering seasonal trends, projected growth, organisational goals and more when conducting your workforce planning will allow your business to identify who needs to be hired and when. This foreknowledge will enable your human resource manager to adequately prepare for your recruitment needs, setting your business up for success.
Identifying Weaknesses in your Workforce
During the workforce planning process, you’ll have ample opportunity to discover shortcomings of past and current staffing strategies as they apply to achieving your organisational goals. For instance, is common for gaps to arise between the skills and capacity of a business’ workforce and those required should they reach their goals.
Better Act on Opportunities
Sometimes unexpected opportunities will present themselves to your business. These opportunities might mean you need to scale a certain team or branch of your business sooner than expected, or you may need to reorganise part of your hierarchy. With an effective workforce planning strategy, you’ll have contingencies in place that will allow you to quickly adapt to and act on these opportunities when they arise.
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