Planning is crucial for numerous areas of our lives. When you think about the current and future workforce in your company, it is definitely one of the most important aspects that need analysis and strategic, long-term planning.
The modern business environment is continuously developing, and business leaders should know how and when to hire the right people to help the organization reach its goals.
It means thorough data-driven analytics is necessary, involving your current employees’ skills, the ones they need to develop, and those you will need in the future due to talent gaps that may appear as the company grows.
To make such a decision-making process easier and more efficient, strategic workforce planning is essential. Here, we will help you to understand how it works. Keep on reading to find out how to improve your company’s performance with a strategic workforce plan!
What Is Strategic Workforce Planning?
The primary purpose of strategic workforce planning is to ensure that your organization has the right people with the right skills. Most significantly, it is about employing and deploying talent to help your business function smoothly.
To be exact, the strategic workforce planning process can be:
- Analyzing your current workforce
- Predicting the future potential needs of your employees
- Defining the gaps between your current situation and your desired position
- Creating and implementing solutions aimed at reaching your goals
- Following your strategic workforce plan through the accurate use of talent
Overall, strategic workforce planning is focused on ensuring your business hires the right employees. They should have the right skills, and each of them needs to do an appropriate job at the right time to help to build up your organization's success.
Why Is Strategic Workforce Planning Vital for Your Business?
There are many reasons why it is highly important to work on a strategy associated with workforce planning in the current business environment. Some of them are as follows:
- Cost Reduction. As global competition is constantly raising, organizations need to come up with a business strategy to work in a smarter way. Also, aging employees cost a company more without necessarily being more productive.
- Talent Management. Employees with a number of diverse talents and capabilities are a great plus for your business. It is crucial to have people with the right drive in your workforce and develop a different talent pipeline to replace the aging team of executives and senior management.
- Flexibility. As the current business world is very competitive, it needs quicker and more radical innovations. In many cases, the revenue generated from products that are less than a few years old has grown exponentially in the last few decades. Still, the business strategy that was effective in the past may not provide the same performance now - it should be based on current business analytics.
- Demographic Changes. A number of serious internal issues can appear in your organization as a result of having an aging workforce, such as a mass retirement, lack of essential skills and capabilities, reskilling difficulties.
How to Create a Strategic Workforce Plan?
Now that you know how important strategic workforce planning is, it is time to explain how to work on such a business strategy. We have divided the scenario planning process into seven essential steps.
1. Focus on the Long-Term Goals of Your Company
The crucial aspect of strategic workforce planning is to ensure that all your employees can contribute to your company's aims. As this strategy is based on business goals, it is recommended to start with shaping them.
To build solid goals, you need to think, for example, where your organization is headed, both in the short- and long-term.
It is essential to realize what you want to achieve and what kind of skills are necessary for your workforce to do this.
Keep in mind to get all the stakeholders on board when you are about to take care of strategic workforce planning. You need to have people not only from the HR team but also from line management, finance, operations, and the C-suite.
2. Perform an Analysis of Your Present Workforce
Your strategic workforce plan should start with the analysis of your current workforce. It is crucial to know how it looks at the moment and what employee skills are at your disposal for now.
Data-driven talent analytics (or, more specifically, workforce analytics) can be very helpful in the planning process. You will find out your employee age demographics, seniority profile, the type of contracts, and how they evolved.
When you are researching your present employees, take into consideration the two key areas to explore here - the quantity and the quality of your workforce.
To judge the quality, you need to assess the present performance and future potential. Be aware of your highest performers and how high (or low) their potential is.
Depending on your conclusions, you will know what opportunities they require to develop.
To know the quantity of the workforce, you need to know the number of all your employees (new hires included). Also, take into account the internal promotions and employee turnover.
3. Identify Future Skill Gaps
When you know more about your workforce’s skills and needs, it will be easier for you to develop the right strategy. At least when it comes to potential skill gaps.
A skills gap analysis will make you aware, for example, when certain people are going to retire, and you will know which roles will demand finding a new workforce at the right time.
Then, you will have time to think about all the possible talent management solutions.
Maybe you will use external gig workers or change your approach to a more project-based form of employment? Or perhaps you prefer to plan some training for the employees that already are in your organization? Or apply a combined solution?
It is also worth bearing in mind that global digitalization and technological developments are very significant here. A digital skills gap may occur, and it may be necessary to do some research to fill it.
In the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, we can read that by 2022, it is predicted that as many as 54% of the whole workforce will need re- and upskilling.
4. Be Ready for Various Scenarios
It is hard to predict the future exactly, but you can certainly be ready for different (often unexpected) situations.
Let's use a supermarket cashier as an example here. Many supermarkets are now turning to self check-out machines, allowing their customers to scan all the products and pay for them on their own.
As a result, in your strategic workforce planning, you should predict that:
- the number of cashiers will reduce in the future
- people will have to be retrained to move to different roles
Many preparations go beyond industry-specific circumstances. For instance, they also encompass such situations as a sudden, huge change in the internal financial situation of your organization.
It can happen on an even bigger scale, and you may have to deal with problems associated with a global economic slowdown.
Apart from that, the aforementioned technological development and automation can also have an influence on job distribution in many different departments of your business.
Nevertheless, even if the world of work will change, it is not likely that every job affected will result in firing all the workforce.
Instead, the HR specialists should take care of strategic workforce planning and start predicting right now how to deal with a mix of retiring, attraction, up-and reskilling to prevent too many lay-offs in the future.
5. Don’t Hesitate to Search for External Help
To be honest, strategic workforce planning is quite a difficult and serious process. To come up with an excellent strategy, many different aspects need to be taken into consideration.
For this reason, business leaders often search for external help. Thanks to a consultant or another professional specializing in strategic workforce planning, it will be polished in every detail.
Such specialists will be able to provide your company with valuable data-driven advice on both the beginning of the implementation process and keeping it constantly up to date.
6. Keep Your Organization's Culture in Mind
It is true that you may need different skills and new talent management strategies and that technology will undoubtedly affect your future workforce needs.
Nonetheless, you should always take into account your organization's culture in the workforce planning process.
Similar to the employees and skills that your company needs, your organizational culture is continuously changing as well.
When working on your strategic workforce plan, take into account what direction you want this cultural development to go in and what core values for your business should be preserved no matter what.
7. Monitor and Adjust Your Strategic Workforce Plan
Even when you have finished the strategic workforce planning process and began implementing it, it is not the end. In fact, it is far from it.
As previously mentioned, the business environment in the 21st century is evolving all the time, including the workforce, customers, and technology. All those factors affect each other to a large extent.
For this reason, if you want your strategic workforce planning to be really efficient in the future, you need to be ready to adapt to the constant changes.
With the help of analytics, you need to monitor all the important data for your organization and modify your strategy according to the current observations.
Strategic Workforce Planning For Manufacturing Companies
One of the industries that need thorough workforce planning is definitely manufacturing.
Without such a long-term strategy, leaders of these organizations would continuously be in a catch-up mode and have to face high expenses and risks associated with employee turnover and replacement.
Creating a comprehensive workforce plan is not only about having a hiring strategy or posting job offers. It takes a lot more than that.
One of the particularly beneficial approaches is the redeployment of the existing talent, as it can provide a strategic alternative to dealing with a current or future workforce shortage.
It often happens that a company already has people with untapped talent or workers who can be trained to take other or additional roles.
It may demand some creativity, but it can be a great solution to various workforce needs in the manufacturing industry.
Apart from that, you can conduct a tools-driven and facilitated process where you will identify and distribute the positions within your company. It may also help you to define which jobs are the key ones for your potential success.
Here are some crucial tips for strategic workforce planning in the manufacturing industry:
1. Work on a Clear Understanding of Your Workforce Planning in the Context of the Business Goals
The strategies of workforce planning can differ from one industry to another, but there is a vital overlap. It always includes recruiting talent, employing plans, or retention of key workers.
It should also always encompass shaping organizational processes, technology stacks, and systems essential to support constant development. Manufacturing businesses that want to use workforce planning should first set their business goals and take a holistic approach to how they can be included in the organization's structure.
2. Establish Support for Workforce Planning
There can be a different view on who owns strategic workforce planning in every company - it can be the HR, senior management, or finance department. It should definitely be a priority for senior management, and HR should get all the necessary training and resources to support the planned implementation.
In particular, frontline leaders and hiring managers should know how to make workforce planning one of their essential tasks in day-to-day work in a manufacturing firm.
3. Concentrate on Skills
Manufacturing demands a special set of skills, so the workforce plan has to be created with those capabilities in mind. It often happens that such a strategy is focused on stopping skilled people from quitting.
It should also include a plan associated with future skill requirements and methods of searching for new workers to plug skill gaps.
4. Continuously Enhance Your Strategic Workforce Plan
Nowadays, lean manufacturing, which is focused on minimizing waste to increase productivity, is considered an essential aspect of overall manufacturing. Thanks to it, organizations can concentrate on tasks that are the most urgent.
With strategic workforce planning, you can target those areas that will provide the most prominent return, and with hiring and retention, find cost-effective methods to use the strategies that produce the best results.
5. Discover the Effects of Workforce Planning Tools
Manufacturing firms that embrace strategic workforce planning can see how various factors affect their business.
Thanks to career ladders, growth paths can be developed, attractive wages and benefits can enhance retention, and with job analyses, the hiring process can be improved.
HR leaders should analyze what proves best for their company and concentrate on the area where they can achieve the most noticeable results.
With the growing talent shortage in the manufacturing industry, strategic workforce planning offers a proactive approach to deal with the difficulties.
Get Professional Support from MADI
In MADI, we know how to support companies who face challenges associated with the lack of people in their workforce.
If you want to save time and money and lower the risk of losing long-term business partners, it is definitely worth familiarizing yourself with our offer of manufacturing staffing and other services.
Feel free to contact us anytime - we are here to provide you with professional help!