Discover the benefits of strategic workforce planning, as well as how to make it better before you start recruiting job candidates
“Nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.”
- Lawrence Bossidy, Former COO of General Electric
Finding the right professionals to blend seamlessly into your company is perhaps the most important part of a hiring manager’s job. However, you have to be careful not to put the cart before the horse.
In other words, you should implement a strategic workforce planning program before you interview the first job candidate.
What Is a Workforce Strategy?
A workforce strategy represents a process of evaluating your current levels of staffing. You need to anticipate future recruitment needs and the criteria used to select the best job candidates. The workforce planning process also includes ensuring that you do not overstaff or understaff while also preventing the development of gaps in job skills.
Benefits of Strategic Workforce Planning
Planning for your company’s workforce pre-recruitment delivers three primary benefits:
- Reduce recruitment costs
- Adapt to rapid changes
- Manage a long-term recruitment plan
Developing a workforce strategy helps you plan the recruitment process before you reach out to the first job candidate. This saves your company money by targeting the best job candidates. You also save money by reducing turnover and increasing productivity. Recruiting the right candidates for your organization makes financial sense.
Recruitment should always be a targeted process, which strategic workforce planning can help you accomplish.
Adapt to Rapid Changes
The workforce is as diverse as ever, especially when it comes to generational diversity. Baby Boomers comprise 25 percent of the workforce, with both Millennials and Generation X making up 35 percent of the workforce. Traditionalists and Generation Z complete the age demographic picture.
One of the most significant advantages of workforce planning is to develop strategies that help your organization recruit a diverse workforce. Strategic workforce planning allows you to make changes to recruitment drives that account for the rapidly changing demographics in the job market.
Manage a Long-Term Recruitment Plan
The workforce planning process is not just about planning for today; it's also about planning for tomorrow. A comprehensive long-term recruitment strategy should involve collaboration across all departments in your company. The ideal workforce planning strategy addresses how to handle unexpected job losses, including the departures of senior managers.
6 Steps for Strategic Workforce Planning Pre-Recruitment
Developing an effective workforce strategy follows a logical sequence of six steps.
Step #1: Determine Long-Term Goals
To find the best people to achieve organizational goals, you first have to determine the future of work.
Answer these questions:
- Where is the company headed for the long-term?
- What goals do you want new employees to achieve?
- What job skills will new employees need to meet your company’s long-term goals?
Some hiring managers like to call the development of long-term goals part of a talent management strategy. Whatever you want to call it, the first step of establishing long-term goals is an essential component of a successful workforce planning process.
Step #2: Evaluate Your Current Team
After every season, the management of professional sports organizations gets together to evaluate their current rosters. Since there is not a “season” for your organization, the human resources department should establish a schedule for all other departments to analyze current employees. You are looking for the quality of talent, as well as the quantity of the workforce.
The quality of your team refers to assessing current performance and predicting future performance potential. Quantity is all about ensuring you do not overstaff or understaff.
Step #3: Discover Future Gaps in Skills
After you establish long-term goals and evaluate your current team, the next step in the workforce planning process is to complete a skill gap analysis. An analysis of future skill gaps gives you insight into when employees plan to retire. This gives you a head start on determining how your organization should fill the skills gap left behind by retiring team members.
You can fill a gap in skills by recruiting new team members or developing the skills of current employees. The best way to implement the skills gap workforce strategy is to recruit new team members and develop the skills of current employees.
Step #4: Ask for Help
Developing a workforce strategy is not an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to predicting future events. Not even Nostradamus would have predicted the transition from the human screening of job candidates to the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Requesting help from a consultant or a professional who enacts strategic workforce planning ideas can improve your planning for future events.
Step #5: Factor in Company Culture
Job skills play a huge role in determining who you recruit during the hiring process. However, before you talk to the first job candidate, you also need to write down a list of things that comprise your company culture. The values and beliefs of a job candidate can make the difference between extending a job offer and discarding the applicant’s resume in an electronic trash bin.
Step #6: Conduct Competitive Analyses
Ask yourself one important question: What are your competitors doing in terms of strategic workforce planning? By completing competitive analyses, you should learn how your competitors create job titles and report structures. You also want to find out how your competitors handle the workforce planning process.
The goal is to incorporate the best practices that you discover for workforce planning into your company’s process.
The Bottom Line
There is no debate about the importance of recruiting the right professionals. Recruitment is one of the three pillars of a successful human resources initiative. Find the right people, develop the right people and retain the right people.
Recruiting the best professionals gives your company a head start when it comes to performance. Long before you attend job fairs and promote job openings, you should develop a long-term strategic workforce planning program. Implementing an effective workforce planning process can lower costs, as well as help your company adapt to rapid changes and manage a long-term recruitment plan.
All of the six steps for better workforce planning focus on one important factor: Improving the future performance of your organization.