As we approach the new financial year, it’s the perfect time for businesses to take stock of where they are and, more importantly, where they want to go. Randstad's research shows that half of the employers fail to plan a year in advance for changes in their workforce, and only 13% plan for a two-year period.

If we’ve learnt anything from the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s that being prepared is the name of the game. It pays to know the ins and outs of workforce planning, so read on for the basics and a few helpful hints.

Male in a blue shirt sitting at a desk looking at his laptop, view from another room
Male in a blue shirt sitting at a desk looking at his laptop, view from another room

what is workforce planning? it's all in the name

Workforce planning is about assessing where an organisation currently is and deciding on the direction it needs to go. The crux of it is in pinpointing the talent, resources, policies and strategies needed to coordinate a business’ workforce with its overall objectives.

Taking care of risks like skill shortages or financial issues remains an important factor in establishing a contingency framework, and in 2020 we’re seeing just how crucial workforce planning is.

The benefits of workforce planning are innumerable, but some of the biggest are economic security, boosted productivity, company policy protections, improved talent acquisition and management strategies, crisis preparedness, and heightened public and employer branding.

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workforce planning in 3 steps:

1. assess the current workforce makeup

To know where they’re going, businesses need to know where they are.

For successful workforce planning, it’s essential that organisations undertake a deep dive into their current workforce makeup and strategies, considering factors like size and diversity.

The key here is to look thoroughly at all organisational levels - including managers, supervisors and workers themselves - rather than hyper-focusing on the C-Suite alone.

Taking these steps will shed light on possible risks and oversights, like resource shortages or staff retention issues, as well as potential areas to build future success upon, for example, future leaders or a refined company vision.


2. look to industry trends (and beyond)

An organisation needs to know what’s happening in its industry in order to be at its forefront. For workforce planning purposes, research into industry trends should consider the future as much as the present.

Businesses have to ask themselves what the landscape of their industry will look like in years to come and how they can best prepare themselves for it. At the same time, it’s essential that companies consider how their competitors will tackle the same challenges - especially in terms of workforce investments - and what can be done to stand out.

Looking beyond the boundaries of the industry can do just that. With the rise of technology in an increasingly digitised world, more overlap exists between talent markets than in the past.

Scouting in untraditional places and investing in talent with transferable skills - especially those with a technological edge - can help organisations get ahead in their workforce planning. Also important to keep in mind are the broader political, economic and social environments that businesses will find themselves immersed in over the following years.

With consumers caring more about an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility than ever before, it’s worthwhile taking on or training talent with expertise in these areas.

3. monitor and reorganise the workforce plan

Last but certainly not least, continuously monitoring the workforce plan is a must for all businesses. If and when new developments arise, like the current COVID-19 outbreak, it’s essential that a company’s workforce plan is effectively responding. If not, it’s time to make some changes.

Using talent strategists is an easy way to stay on top of workforce planning.

Like those at Randstad, talent strategists can help businesses with everything from technological innovation to employer branding, as well as for deciding on a direction for their future.

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