Historically, workforce planning was done using a more just in time approach in response to an immediate need:

  1. hire
  2. fire, or
  3. retire

The current marketplace requires a more strategic, long-term approach focusing on the organization and the human resources necessary for successful execution.

This is all the more important with the current war for recruiting and retaining talent. It is your people, after all, that will be tasked with implementing strategy and achieving your desired business results. Unfortunately, many organizations (especially small to medium size), have failed to adapt their processes to keep pace and stay competitive.

According to Bersin and Associates, “Although 92% of companies have some level of workforce planning, only 21% of companies take a strategic, long-term approach.”

Here’s a simple, straightforward 5 step planning approach:

1. Establish where your business and the labor market are going

  1. What is your business strategy? What areas to: grow, keep, exit?
  2. What does this change mean for the business at all levels (executive down to frontline staff)?
  3. What is the expected speed of change?
  4. Market forecasts and trends: economics, demographics, regulatory changes, competition, talent trends?
  5. Understand current economy and talent expectations: “Employee Relationship Economy” (pursue passions, experience professional growth, gain new experiences, expand networks)

2. Identify your future talent demands

  1. Organizational structure necessary to support future strategy
  2. Jobs necessary to support future organization: phase out, critical employee segments to keep

3. Assess your current talent inventory

  1. Employee profile/fit for new future jobs
  2. Skills required to perform new future jobs (cognitive abilities, behavioral traits, interests)
    i. Specific roles, marketplace needs (i.e. adaptability, critical thinking, communications, people skills), internal talent movement: retirement, attrition

4. Identify your talent gaps

  1. What positions will you need to fill and how (develop internal talent, recruitment from within/outside)?
  2. When will you need to fill them?

5. Implement a plan

  1. Secure top-level executive support and sponsorship
  2. Break down process into manageable segments: critical roles, expected challenges, trials