Strategic Workforce Planning: An Overview

Every company needs workers with the right mix of talent and skill sets to succeed. Whether they bring a specialized combination of skills or a specific type of experience, having the right talent on your team is essential. The last decade has tested employers and the war for talented workers has been fierce. But now? The war is fiercer.

From 2018 to today, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed from below 5 percent to over 13 percent (as of May 2020). With Covid-19 expected to impact businesses for years to come, there will be new challenges and opportunities. How can you stay ahead in the talent game? How will you determine the skill sets you will need and what strategies will you deploy to find them? How will you ensure you retain your top talent? How will you ensure the highest ROI possible for your talent acquisition and talent development dollars?

Strategic workforce planning can help you answer these questions—it should be your first step. Many companies don’t take the time to develop strategic workforce plans or don’t see their value. Would you ever run your business without having a strategic financial plan or strategic sales plan? If not, why would you run your business without a strategic workforce plan?

What is Strategic Workforce Planning?

Strategic workforce planning is a process that analyzes the talent within the business and assesses workers’ ability to support critical business functions. It looks at the current financial performance of the business, the skills and capabilities of the workforce, the design of the organization, the gaps in capabilities today and the future skill sets that will be needed as the business grows. Being able to predict future talent needs allows you to scout for talent early and find the best of the best. To predict your hiring needs, you’ll need help from senior leadership, HR, Finance/Accounting, Data Analytics and other functional leaders. With the right people at the table, you can optimally plan for your hiring needs and implement talent development strategies to enable your continued growth.

Creating the Plan

Your company and industry will have specific needs, specific hiring cycles and specific work to be done. Workforce planning is both an art and a science, as every company is different and each owner or CEO will have their own vision for the future. These differences and expectations must be well understood to plan for current and future talent needs. Many companies rely on outside advisors to create their workforce plans because of the experience and expertise of the advisor, the speed they can bring to the process and the benefit of gaining an outside and unbiased perspective.

Reaping the Benefits of Strategic Workforce Planning

With your HR team armed with the knowledge of who and when you need to hire, your talent acquisition and development activities will be more efficient and more impactful. You will have greater peace of mind knowing exactly what your talent plans are for the next year and next five years. You will have a better understanding of how and where to develop your existing team. Ultimately, you will be ahead of the talent curve and be in a better position to win the war for talent.

Can we help you take the first steps toward developing a strategic workforce plan? Reach out to a CSH advisor today.

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