Quick – can you tell me what workforce planning means? While it’s a major component of successfully running any organization, many groups struggle with even correctly identifying the process, let alone implementing one. According to Aberdeen’s 2014 Core HR and Workforce Management Survey, improving workforce planning capabilities is the top priority in workforce management. Does your workforce planning practice need help, but you don’t know where to start? Then grab a seat, because school’s in session! Here’s our crash course on creating a workforce planning process.

Workforce Planning 101: Defining the Basics

Aberdeen has three working definitions of the major types of workforce planning. Each layer is needed, but no one type on its own is capable of supporting an entire workforce planning strategy. The three types are:

  • Short-term scheduling: deals with the next immediate days or weeks
  • Operational workforce planning: near-term planning for skills, capabilities, and staffing requirements
  • Strategic workforce planning: an 18month or longer outlook that anticipates and plans for future business needs

These individual types need to be combined into one holistic strategy in order to achieve ongoing business results. Additionally, departments need to work collaboratively when executing planning; it might be tempting to let HR silo off and take control of everything, but that lack of communication can result in a misunderstanding of priorities and poor planning.

Workforce Planning 201: Choosing the Right Tools for the Job

A little more than half (54%) of the Aberdeen survey respondents admitted to using manual or spreadsheet-based planning capabilities to map out all of the budget information, productivity information, schedules, skills, capabilities, and numerous other elements needed in workforce planning. Juggling all of these moving parts by hand increases the risk of dropping one or more elements. Instead, industry leaders use automated tools to bring all of the pieces together, and to gain a higher level of efficiency. Companies that use automated tools in their workforce planning are able to accomplish more overall, moving beyond just managing the number of staff currently employed.

Workforce planning is a complex, multi-faceted process that can greatly assist an organization’s efficiency and productivity. Did this crash course whet your appetite? Get some extra credit by reading “Workforce Planning: Mapping the Road to Success,” and help your organization manage one of its most important assets – its employees!

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