Workforce Planning Process: Strategies, Benefits & Tips

Time to Read: 4.7 minutes

Updated: December 1, 2022

You wouldn’t start a new business venture without developing a strong business plan. Similarly, you should not begin to hire or take on board seasonal staff without first understanding the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to hire and when you should strategically hire so new talent can have the most impact on your business goals. Before you begin to hire new employees, you should put in place a robust workforce planning process so your hiring can be as effective as possible.

Why is Workforce Planning Necessary?

A properly implemented workforce planning process can give your businesses a competitive edge. In a Deloitte study one large services provider used strategic workforce planning to make their hiring more efficient and reduce annual hiring costs by $13.5 billion. By putting thought into how your current workforce is performing and what needs to happen for it to be able to meet your business and revenue goals, you can focus your recruitment efforts in the right areas and be more agile and adaptable when it comes to unforeseen challenges.

Strong workforce planning can help you:

  • Be ready for future growth
  • Discover skills gaps
  • Be flexible around seasonal busy periods, absences, and sales peaks
  • Plan for leadership succession
  • Reduce costs and lower turnover

What are the Five Steps in the Workforce Planning Process?

Workforce planning, done right, is a complex process that spans lots of different departments and requires insightful data to manage. However, it can be broken down into five stages:

1. Consider Your Businesses Goals

For HR leaders, it is always a good first step in the workforce planning process to consider what the short and long-term goals are for your organization so you can better understand how your workforce can meet those goals.

Ask yourself what direction do you know the business is going in? Are you scaling up quickly to meet particular demands or do you have time to do it slowly? What milestones will you need to reach to achieve wider business or departmental goals?

2. Analyze Your Current Workforce

At this stage, you should conduct a comprehensive workforce review. This analysis can be broken down into three distinct areas:

  • Demand – how many employees in each role are required to meet projected goals?
  • Supply – what is your current rate of employee turnover including any projected retirements? You should also examine your training and development programs. Are they focused on the right skills?
  • Gap Analysis – this is the difference between the demand of the company’s goals and your current supply. Aim to close these gaps through recruitment and training.

3. Plan for a Variety of Scenarios

While it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality you can prepare for certain scenarios. These may be industry-specific scenarios, like a surge in demand for cashiers around the holiday season for example. Or skill-specific; a planned IT transformation or upgrade may require certain programming skills.

This is also the time to consider succession planning. If you are anticipating several retirements, especially in senior leadership, you can begin the training and development programs you need to cultivate the right skills and experience in less senior members of the team.

4. Implement Your Plans

Putting these plans into place requires those managing your recruitment, onboarding, training, and staff management to cooperate closely. Stakeholders from these areas should be in harmony. Remember this is an ongoing strategy and changes will not happen instantly.

5. Monitor and Adjust

Continue to monitor your workforce planning strategy, seek feedback from those involved and adjust as needed. The company’s short-term business goals are likely to shift as milestones are completed as may long-term business goals in response to economic pressures. Review workforce planning regularly to ensure your recruitment processes always meet your needs.

Benefits of Workforce Planning Tools

There are plenty of workforce planning tools and resources available that can help you visualize important data and streamline the planning process. We particularly like:

  • The 9-Box Grid – Created by McKinsey in the 1970s, the 9-box grid is an enduring and adaptable tool for mapping your current workforce’s performance and their potential. You can plot your workforce from low potential, low performance up to high potential, high performance, and is a great way to identify gaps or pick out future stars for training and development.
  • Data Analytics – Many businesses are investing heavily in HR software that can help them collect, analyze, and make use of workforce data, such as absence rates and staff turnover as well as recruitment data, such as time to hire and cost-per-hire.
  • Compensation and Benefits Analysis – The key to ensuring your workforce planning, giving you the ability to attract and retain the talent you need to succeed, is understanding how the compensation you offer sits against what’s currently going on in the market. Compensation and benefits analysis helps you benchmark your internal pay brackets and think about what benefits are desired by candidates.

Despite the benefits of workforce planning tools, many organizations lack the time and infrastructure to implement them effectively. It is often more cost-effective to tap into the expertise of a dedicated RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) provider, such as Pierpoint. An RPO provider takes on board your business goals and provides strategic workforce planning, access to recruiting tools and technology, and the data analytics needed to help you meet your goals. Not only that, but they’ll also help you reach and recruit quality candidates.

Need Help Developing a Strategic Workforce Plan to Take Your Business Forward?

Pierpoint functions as an integral partner for your talent acquisition team. From workforce planning to streamlined recruiting processes that means you hire quality candidates quickly and efficiently. Contact us today to talk about your recruitment requirements.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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