If you hire people and have ever tried to solve for the variable called people, you know how frustrating workforce planning can be. It’s impractical at best with questions that are basically asking you to predict the future. How many people will you need and when will you need them? Who is leaving, who is staying and who can be counted on to deliver?
And while September seems years away right now, I guarantee you that when it does roll around you will be either: looking at hiring because you don’t have enough people, trying to figure out how to not hire, or even how to reduce your workforce. And, you probably had to submit your workforce plan last October or November…at an impractical time.
So, in this, the beginning of the year, when you are probably now beginning to realize how far off your workforce plan may be, here are some practical suggestions for an impractical workforce planning process.
3 Practical Suggestions for Impractical Workforce Planning
Embrace the Chaos
Maybe taking the word “planning” out of workforce planning and substituting the word “guessing” would help. Nope. Management probably wouldn’t go for that. But within your plan, somewhere, or separately, outside the plan, you need to embrace the thought of chaos happening to your organization. What if we acquire a new company? What if we expand? What if the product or service is successful? Posing some questions of potential chaos, may inform your plan or help you discover the holes in your plan. Especially when it comes to types of positions. Finding 10 high-level IT people is much different than finding 10 cyber security people or 10 assemblers. What if you had to find 20?
Forget the Dates
For sales, the acronym, “ABC” means, “Always Be Closing.” For recruiting it should be, “ABR,” or, “Always Be Recruiting.” Your plan should be an outline of when you need people, but what’s more important is the type of people and the potential numbers of people you need. Developing a pipeline of talent is critical to filling jobs. There’s an old story I tell about recruiting 15 people to fill 10 spots. Why? Because by the time the job is open or the start date comes, 5 of them will already have a job or won’t take mine. So the key is to create pipelines so that many (not all) of the people you are talking to could be ready when you need them. And in an economy of low unemployment, this is more important than ever.
Planning is Futile
How about instead of workforce planning we call it, workforce “preparing?” That’s probably a better way of thinking about it. Preparing for the chaos and the types of positions you need (or may need), is critical to recruiting. What resources do you have internally? What resources do you have externally? How are your resources organized between pipelining candidates and actually recruiting candidates? Now’s the time to get organized and prepare for what the year has in store for you. Don’t just plan; prepare.
The saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…” is adapted from a poem, To a Mouse, by Robert Burns. The gist of it is that no matter how big or small, powerful or weak you are, things usually don’t go the way you expected or planned. This is especially true with people and with the impractical way most companies approach workforce planning. Maybe a few of the suggestions above will help you take the “im” out of your impractical workforce plan this year.
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.