People | Process | Power

Workforce Planning | The People & Culture Office

Last week I wrote this post to give you an overview of strategic HR management and how each element adds value to your business, today we are going to take a closer look at one of those elements; Workforce Planning.

Put simply, workforce planning is “having the right people in the right place at the right time” The key principles to workforce planning are;

  • identifying future business directions and workforce needs
  • analysing and understanding the make-up of the current workforce
  • determining the necessary skills, capabilities and competencies required to achieve strategic and operational goals in the future
  • developing policies and strategies that will assist in achieving these goals

Workforce Planning provides management with a framework for making informed staffing decisions which are in line with the organisation’s strategic and operational goals. This is opposed to reactionary or “knee-jerk” staffing decisions that may seem right at the time, but eventually turn out to be ineffective in supporting the strategic directions of the organisation.

The planning process also provides a mechanism for integrating a range of human resource strategies that can assist with the attraction and retention of staff in a systematic, equitable and strategic way.

Sounds great Simone but how does this work within my business? Let’s say you are a mining contractor and you have just been awarded two separate contracts to develop and mine mid-sized open pit projects to commence in 4 – 6 months time. As part of the planning process HR would sit down with the operations manager and map out the project; what positions would be required & when needed throughout the project, what will the roster be, what will the manning of the crews look like and the duration of each contract. Armed with this information HR would go off and start to pull together workforce plan to ensure the organisations ability to meet the workforce need is approached in a systematic, proactive and cost effective way.

This may include looking at the current workforce skill set & capability to determine opportunities for promotion into Superintendent / Shift Supervisor positions, the number of new recruits required, remuneration structure, risks to attraction & retention of employees, whether there is a requirement for the creation of, or review of, HR policies & procedures and then the development of a recruitment schedule giving sufficient time for the recruitment process to occur, successful candidates to leave exisiting jobs and then mobilise to site. Systematic, Proactive and Cost Effective.

So obviously, and as with all business planning when approached with a measured and considered approach, workforce planning has numerous advantages – the ability to identify more effective and efficient use of people at work; enabling effective planning in relation to the “demographics” of the workforce to ensure business continuity; enabling proactive management as opposed to just-in-time management or management by crises; the development of a range of alternative courses of action to meet changing market environments; understanding issues associated with retention and turnover so increases or reductions in staff are managed appropriately and cost effectively with minimal impact on the workforce, individuals and to the business are just a few.

But say you’re a bit of a fly – by – the – seat – of – your – pants person? What are the risks associated with not having a planning mechanism in place? It would result in management resorting to make staffing decisions in an ad-hoc or reactionary way that does not support the longer-term goals of the organisation. This type of decision-making may lead to – a workforce that is inflexible and does not have the necessary capabilities to deliver future services necessary for an organisation to achieve its goals; an inability to attract and retain high quality staff, due to irrelevant or inconsistent human resource policies and practices; operational goals that are inconsistent with the organisation’s wider vision and strategic focus; staff development resources being funnelled to activities which do not support the strategic goals of the institution; under-utilisation of staff; increased staffing costs; a lack of leadership and succession planning and poor management decision-making. Eeeek!

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” ― Alan Lakein, author

The People & Culture Office can assist you to create overall capability and ensure that your organisation has the skilled, committed, engaged employees it requires to achieve sustained competitive advantage. We will analyse your strategic plan and goals to identify opportunities to develop people and culture initiatives that will integrate with, and support the overarching business strategy. 

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