What is workforce planning?
Workforce planning in some ways is exactly what it says on the tin. Planning for the future to ensure a business or organisation and its staff have the skills, knowledge, and capacity it needs.
Understanding what gaps exist in your workforce (both today and in the future) whether that be through lack of expertise or lack of worker numbers is crucial if businesses are to stay one step ahead and not get caught out by industry evolution and increases in staffing costs.
Workforce planning combines research into changes to industry demands and regulations, recruitment in the correct areas and staff training and development to help secure an organisation’s future.
The process is designed to think strategically, both in terms of the future of a project, programme, department, or business as well as the staffing required to meet strategic aspirations. As times change and staff move on it is key to understand where the business and the sector will be in 2, 5 or 10 years and how you will need to adapt to thrive in that new environment.
Why is it important?
The benefits of workforce planning are not only limited to having enough staff in the right areas to meet demand and growth. Cost savings is a huge impact of having a workforce plan in place as it enables you to make key hiring decisions with the future in mind and minimises the risk of panic hiring to fill vacant spots quickly. Costs can also be saved by retaining and re-training staff to suit new skills requirements
A workforce plan also increases productivity. Aligning staffing and skills requirements to strategic objectives creates the chance for higher productivity levels. To create a healthy workplace, you need the right individuals in the right areas and a workforce planning strategy enables you to do just that.
The right staff in the right areas at a lower cost and with higher productivity levels. It’s these three components that make workforce planning a necessity rather than a nice to have. Like with other areas such as marketing and technology, if your competitors are one step ahead of you when it comes to workforce planning, they are going to reap the rewards and be prepared for the future in a way that you are not.