Why you need workforce planning

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Written by: Alcumus
7th November

Once upon a time, the function of a Human Resources (HR) department within an organisation was thought to revolve around managing the payroll, acting as an interface with management, sourcing new employees, controlling personnel files and dealing with employee welfare: but HR has a far more important role to play with responsibilities integral to efficient business operations and growth.

Workforce planning may be defined as the systematic identification and analysis of organisations’ needs according to the organisations’ commitments, plans and objectives – i.e. needs in terms of the knowledge, experience and skills required. It is a process designed to generate business intelligence, to inform the organisation of the current, transition and future impact of the external and internal environment on the organisation, enabling it to better face an ever changing and uncertain business environment. Surprises and delays caused by lack of workforce planning are de-stabilising and costly to business.

The Benefits of Good Workforce Planning

Workforce planning brings benefits to an organisation and has a positive impact on a business. An organisation’s most valuable resource, it is generally agreed,  is its employees – nothing happens without people. The benefits of workforce planning will be several folds, and include;

  • Help identify and anticipate problems early, helping avoid disruptions and costs.
  • Help fast procurement of labour/skills replacement without adversely affecting business operations.
  • Help reduce the effects of fluctuating business cycles. Better able to withstand the peaks and troughs of business, the ability to cope with both good times and the bad times.
  • Help avoid costly delays and disruptions.  Customer satisfaction is paramount. Planning is crucial in ensuring that the company can meet production goals by adequate staffing of the right people.
  • Help secure the right staff and help identify training needs and employee development initiatives.
  • Help increase productivity, meet deadlines, and maintain customer satisfaction.
  • Help ensure a smooth transition of business developments as changes are seamlessly incorporated and priorities shifted without disruption.

Workforce Planning Versus Crisis Planning

Procrastinate; waiting until things go wrong before making those workforce plans is an unnecessary business risk. An organisation that operates along these lines, without an eye to the future, risks financial insecurity – we live in an increasingly uncertain global economy, with businesses closing daily around the UK along with ever shifting findings from case law and government directives which requires you to keep up to date with legislative changes .

Effective workforce planning helps minimise risk, as it can provide managers with early warning signs, enabling the implementation of specific action plans – already in place –  to tackle problems speedily, before they become something bigger and cause disruption. Planning will improve morale and confidence within the workforce: both key elements in achieving corporate success and maintaining contented personnel.

Reactive management ie fire-fighting, is counter-productive, very demoralising and likely to lead to an increased turnover of staff.

Good Workforce Planning Adapts to Change Easily

Workforce planning is a team activity: data is created and must be reviewed, information and resource gaps need to be identified; further, and effective planning will identify critical business impacting elements through quantitative and qualitative analysis.  In addition, future focused business scenarios may be considered.

Workforce planning will help answer the important questions like “Do we need to do it, when is the best time, can we do it, how do we do it, have we done it, could we have done it better”?

Help with Workforce Planning

At Alcumus we deliver independent, practical and relevant HR advice for both small and larger businesses. We start with a fact finding exercise to get to know your business and understand where you might need our help. We’ll undertake an objective assessment of your existing employment practices and current documentation, help to create bespoke terms and conditions including contracts of employment, and analyse any specific employee issues which need addressing as a priority, and guide through practical solutions.

Our team of qualified HR professionals can advise on all human resource management and employment law matters. Some are qualified solicitors, others have spent many years working in HR roles within a range of different business backgrounds both at a senior level but at the same time with excellent ‘front line’ skills enabling them to give you pragmatic and relevant advice on how to go about things, rather than just what the law says. All members of our team understand the risks of non-compliance and are ready to help you avoid common pitfalls and to work through challenges such as organisational change, restructures, contractual issues, redundancy processes, TUPE transfers, changes to shift patterns and of course the usual challenges such as performance, disciplinary and even tribunal work.