Four essentials to workforce planning
For many companies, consistent and repeatable business quarter over quarter, year over year or even month to month or day to day, is as reliable as the weather these days. With so much volatility, it seems impossible to make workforce planning decisions. In many cases companies make educated “guesses” based on siloed sets of data and hope for the best.
Fortunately, that doesn’t need to be the case. Workforce planning is prescriptive and reliable. There are best practices companies can adopt to mitigate risk and make sure their workforce is positioned for future business requirements.
Here are four workforce planning best practices to consider.
Essential #1: Integrating workforce planning and business objectives
In many companies, workforce management is often one of the last remaining operational silos that is not integrated into core business operations. It’s imperative to align labor to support business operations that drive overall company goals and KPIs. Workforce execution is instrumental in helping to address ongoing changes in skills requirements and the availability of labor to meet those requirements.
Essential #2: Planning to meet skills diversity
Businesses operate in an environment of constant change and much of this change is directly applicable to your workforce. Skills requirements are changing. There is a looming mismatch between the skills a company has now and what they will need in the future. The attributes and expectations of the talent pool are changing. Meanwhile, Generation Z, people born in 1995 or later and the world’s first true digital natives, are starting to enter the workforce. Understanding these complexities and planning to address them while at the same time keeping in compliance, is critical to success.
Essential #3: Planning to meet capacity requirements
Successful businesses invariably have a precise plan for near-term capacity requirements. But often a few quarters or a year out, things get a little fuzzy. In a best practices approach to workforce planning, your company develops ways to project farther into the future what types of skills you need, at what levels, and at what locations. It’s a little like getting better at what you do now at a short-term tactical level. But it requires improved business processes and supporting technology.
Essential #4: Get the most out of your data. In most enterprises, workforce data is plentiful, but not leveraged effectively. There is widespread acknowledgement that workforce related data analytics is critical to solving this problem. In a best practices approach, you develop a detailed understanding of what workforce-related data you have and how to apply to your core business planning.
An overall critical success factor for each of the areas discussed, is to formalize a feedback loop for all aspects of your workforce planning so you can systematically evaluate past experiences with future requirements in mind. Once you have this feedback loop, you will need to decisively discard what hasn’t worked after carefully analyzing and learning from the reasons it failed.
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