A strategic workforce plan is a company’s best way of securing its future success. The SWP is a process in which a company analyzes the effectiveness of both its current and future staff, identified in aggregate as ‘workforce’. This can be a very thorough process as it involves a review of the entire company’s resources at all levels. Doing so means that the company can assess what type of staff, management, and leadership it needs in order to achieve its business goals. This includes crucial skillsets needed for growth, how many people they need, what kind of roles those people will be filling, and how the hierarchy of the business will be managed.
Tips for Developing a Strategic Workforce Plan
In order to develop an effective plan, you should consider the following questions.
- Think about what your company needs: how much experience do your new employees need to have?
- Are you happy to offer entry-level roles and nurture new talent, or would you prefer seasoned employees?
- What knowledge and skills do your employees need to have? Be as specific as possible.
- How many staff members do you need? Think of all the tasks that are performed on a daily basis. Assess how long each task takes to complete, and think about how much work one employee can realistically do during the working day.
- What are your goals for the future of your company? What kind of workforce will best help you meet these goals?
Considering these points carefully will help you to develop an effective workforce plan.
Benefits of Workforce Planning
There are many benefits of adopting a strategic workforce plan. It is an excellent way of organizing a business as it encourages maximum productivity and profit. Planning for the future in this way as well as objectively assessing the present effectiveness of the company allows things to run more smoothly.
Moving forward in your business ambitions without undertaking an objective, removed evaluation of the true quality of your workforce is a recipe for disaster. Hiring new staff can be a particularly big risk for a company because, even though they are qualified for the role, they still need to be trained in their everyday tasks. Let’s say, for example, that your company needs to raise its capabilities in software development. The software development industry is a relatively fast-moving field of expertise, with constant updates to computing languages and development techniques. Therefore, the person you interviewed might have five years of industry experience, but chances are that the systems you use for your company are different in some way from any of their previous jobs.
It is almost impossible to hire a highly skilled software developer or technical support agent that knows absolutely everything about any system ever created. As a result, this qualified and experienced software developer requires on the job training. It is normal for new employees to need some on the job training, but for a highly skilled role this can prove time-consuming and expensive at a time when you need them to be producing value quickly.
One thing to be wary of during this process is staff turnover rates. What if you spend valuable company resources on an employee, only for them to leave six months later? These are the constant worries and considerations of anyone operating at the managerial levels of a business.
The software developer is just an analogy, but scenarios like this happen all the time in the workforce. So how do you address things that can fall outside of your control like this? This is where a strategic workforce plan comes in. You could include a strategic contract clause for new employees committing them to a minimum amount of time on the job in your plan if the position requires extensive training. This contract would then be signed by them on the day when you offer them the job.
This is just an example, but strategic workforce planning is an umbrella term that can describe virtually any preparation you make regarding the effectiveness of your workforce. At the end of the day, a business is supposed to make profit, so the more prepared you are to cover oversights and unforeseen circumstances, the better.
When you incorporate a strategic workforce plan into your business model, your company will have a better quality workforce. Employers who fail to address exactly what qualities and skills they need from their employees pose the risk of hiring mediocre staff who can potentially cause the company to lose profit. The better your workforce, the more profitable and successful your company will be.
Anticipate Issues Early
An effective workforce plan can help businesses discover potential problems early enough to act proactively to prevent any major stumbles down the road. This in turn helps to keep the cogs in your company running smoothly through periods of change and growth, preventing instability and a feeling of chaos. Moreover, good organization always helps to save money.
Delays and disruptions are not only stressful—they also cost money. Avoiding any operational hiccoughs helps a company to achieve its production goals and focus on developing greater organizational efficiency at all levels. Knowing what you want your workforce to be like helps you hire the right people, in the right way, at the right time.
One little discussed benefit of a well-developed strategic workforce plan is that it helps you to cater to the needs of your customers more effectively, building long-lasting relationships with your client base. Let’s say, for example, that you have a staff consisting mostly of salaried full-time workers. Although this model certainly has its advantages, there are a few occasions throughout the year (Christmas, for example) when demand increases exponentially and your staff struggles to cope with the workload.
When staff are under pressure and overloaded with work, this filters through to the experiences of your customer base, whether you realize it or not. Perhaps a customer didn’t get what they ordered on time, or something wasn’t of a satisfactory quality. These types of small mistakes may seem minor when considering the perspective of your entire business operations, but make all the difference to client retention and maintaining reliable revenue streams. A strategic workforce plan can address a gap such as this ahead of time by developing a cohesive plan to integrate seasonal or temporary staff as necessary. These temporary staff could perform lower-skilled tasks, giving the full-time staff members the ability to complete their daily tasks effectively while balancing their home life during the holidays.