Workforce planning is the art and science of figuring out what people and skills you will need for your company in the future. The basic fault with most workforce plans is that they are developed using previous talent needs or last year’s staffing levels.
How do you start with workforce planning? I’m sure there are some very sophisticated HR models and guidance out there, but really, it all starts with asking a few very simple questions. The key is not only the questions you ask, but who you ask as well.
Actually, we find that most companies don’t really do true workforce planning. And very few companies take into consideration planning for the non-employee workforce.
Think Like a Recruiting Company
When we work with clients to recruit talent, we like to go right to the source. You always get the best job description from the hiring manager (well, not always). But at a high level, an HR manager or talent acquisition manager may know we need “x” number of developers or “y” number of engineers. But, knowing what kind they are, how you use them and where you use them is critical to getting the right person. So talk to a number of different managers within your organization. You may find that you get many different answers.
Plan for the Unplanned
Luck favors the prepared. You should develop resources before they are needed so that when you find yourself in need of talent, especially critical talent, you can get them in a timely fashion.
Look at your critical areas (after talking to managers – see above), and then ask yourself:“Where would we get those people?”
And then any follow on questions like: “How long would it take, what would they cost and how easy are they to find?”
Then take it one step further: “Can we recruit these types of people in-house?”
The answer to these questions may change how you plan. It also may change the resources you need. For example, you may be able recruit for certain types, but not be able to keep up with the volume of people needed, or specific specialty or hard-to-find types. Those are very different kinds of recruiting.
Look at the Bigger Picture
As you work through the questions above, set the stage for your workforce plan. If you are starting from “zero” with no workforce plan, don’t try to boil the ocean. Keep it high level, or focus it on specific areas. Workforce planning is like many things – it takes practice.
Also, talk to people and read up on what it takes and how it’s done. Then research where your resources might come from. The more you know going in, the better you will be able to make decisions on the scope of your workforce planning.
Believe me, with most companies not doing a good job at all, if you even get some of it right, you will be way ahead of many other companies.
About the Author: Matt Rivera 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.