15 Questions To Incorporate in Your Workforce Plan

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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December 16, 2014

babyhandsOrganizations that rely on a mix of contracted, freelance, seasonal workers, or permanent employees, have a serious problem brewing: not knowing how to properly forecast for next year's hiring needs. Whether it's due to a lack of resources, data or a combination of the two, sometimes knowing the right questions to ask is just what you need to get a workforce plan going. 

Despite the uncertainty every new year brings, one thing is constant: businesses will always plan for the challenges that lie ahead. And, this includes ebbs and flows in hiring. Time and time again, we hear how this critical planning tool is either hastily assembled, or worse, gets put on the chopping block due to lack of planning and/or resources -- yikes! 


15 Questions To Incorporate in Your Workforce Plan   

When you boil it down, workforce planning is a process used to align the business goals with the organization's workforce needs. Usually, this is a time to review the following:

  • Lessons learned in the previous year
  • Assess current workforce needs
  • Anticipate demands for the coming year. 

If you are new to this concept, there are a number of existing workforce planning templates designed to get you started. But, it's important to consider that those organizations willing to put in the effort to prepare a comprehensive workforce plan are the ones that will most nimbly maneuver hiring obstacles. And, with a shrinking talent pool, understanding your internal strengths and weaknesses are key to navigating the difficult roads ahead. 





If the thought of bringing together your HR leaders and practitioners with your business managers and ops team is enough to make you throw in the towel before you even get started, then perhaps you should consider a more holistic approach to workforce planning.

Here are some tried-and-true questions that you can use to get the conversation started.

What did last year look like for your organization?

Review the past nine months for a better understanding of where you are headed. Did you grow or see demand wane? Add headcount or contract? If you saw growth, how can you accelerate that upward trend? If you didn’t, how can you right the ship?


Does your strategic plan match the current reality of your organization?

Take a pragmatic look at your organization and goals. Does your workforce planning align with current and projected business demand? Or are those goals out of sync with where you’re ending the year?


What 2015 events could affect your strategic plan?

Consider scenarios in your control, such as a new product launch or planned M&A, as well as events outside your control, such as new legislation or a surging competitor. How would you approach these events?


How will the broader economy affect your organization?

The U.S. economy was expected to grow about 3 percent in 2015, but in fact, only grew at about a 2% growth. Early forecasts for 2016, place the U.S. growth forecast at 2.9% according to the Wall Street Journal. How did your business fare in 2015? How will it make out if demand slows over the next 12 months? If it escalates instead?


How did last year change your hiring goals this year?

Are you behind in hiring, struggling to find qualified candidates? Did you experience high turnover in the past? Now’s the time to take a hard look at how to get back on track or move full steam ahead if your plan has been working. Tapping into an outsourced staffing solutions partner is one way to get a fresh perspective on your current recruitment process and how you might improve it in the following year, whether it’s been working or not.


What will be the biggest obstacles to meeting your goals?

High turnover, a shortage of skilled workers, and a complicated hiring process cause headaches for hiring managers. Anticipate your challenges or there’s a greater chance you’ll miss or delay your goals.


What budget flexibility do you have?

Is your budget set to increase or remain flat? HR departments are used to doing more with less, but knowing how far you can stretch your resources will impact everything from hiring to employee engagement. If maintaining an in-house recruitment team isn’t economically feasible, look to recruitment vendors and outsourcing the process to meet demands without going over budget.


What are you doing to engage employees and keep talent in house?

Review your current company culture and employee engagement initiatives, from continuing education to opportunities for career advancement, to create an environment mutually beneficial for employees and your organization.


What skills gaps exist in your organization?

Review the positions that have been toughest to fill. Can current workers be trained in the needed skills? If not, what new strategies could you try to ensure your workforce is prepared to address your organization’s needs? Have you considered outsourcing the recruitment process?


What talent will your organization need to reach the next level of your strategic plan?

Do you need to expand your sales force? Hire more engineers? Quickly add dozens of new workers to accelerate a key project? Your company should already be seeking out these new employees if you know that you'll need them next year.


Where will you find the talent you need?

If you’re still relying on job ads, it’s time to rethink your strategy. If you aren’t already developing and nurturing talent pools for the positions you anticipate you’ll need, get started. One way is to outsource the recruitment process to a firm with a proven track record of successfully and efficiently sourcing skilled workers.


What role can recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) play in fulfilling your goals?

Most organizations can benefit from an RPO provider, which can tap a pre-established pipeline of qualified workers based on your open positions and future needs, increasing the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of your hiring practice. RPO is also highly scalable, able to meet shifting needs as the year progresses.


How prepared is your organization for growth?

Are there steps in place—project teams, established strategies, expansion plans, and budgets—that you can deploy right away if your growth accelerates? How will you respond if you suddenly need a dozen more employees?


How will you measure and assess your success?

Maintain an understanding of your goals and how they’re progressing to better train and plan your workforce. Establish key measures of performance, including the ratio of qualified candidates to applicants, time to hire, and employee referrals, to track success or redirect efforts as the year goes on. Outsourcing certain recruitment tasks to a partner can better ensure you’ll stay on track with the goals you outline at the beginning of the year.


What can you be doing now to ensure you start the year off on the right foot?

Examine this year's accomplishments, compare them to current objectives, and start planning how to close the gap between the two. You have a number of tools at your disposal, from in-house talent to RPO experts, but your success depends on your plan for the future.



This blog was written by Matt Rivera. Matt serves as Vice President, Marketing and Communications and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Yoh’s marketing and brand communications. Matt holds a degree in Journalism/Public Relations and has been working in the staffing industry for more than 25 years. Prior to this role, Matt held many different roles from branch recruiting and proposal writing to technology management and online marketing.

Topics: HR Strategies, Workforce Planning

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