Are you Ready? The Future is Now!

 I recently conducted a webinar for M Lee Smith Publishers and their HR Hero brand that discussed the basics of workforce planning.  This webinar covered the four key areas of workforce planning and then dove deeper into some of the key details in this system.  I will spend some time in this post discussing the four key areas of Workforce Planning and also talk about an upcoming survey I will be conducting that you and your firm can participate in.

What is Workforce Planning?  There are four key components to WP and they are as follows (courtesy of SHRM):

  • Supply Analysis
  • Demand Analysis
  • Gap Analysis
  • Solution Analysis

They sound pretty straightforward, and they are, but there is significant work within each segment and "the devil is always in the details" when it comes to successfully implementing the strategies associated with WP.

Let's dive a little deeper into each of the four core segments.

Supply Analysis works with taking stock of just where your current workforce is.  Quantities, skills, abilities, ages, locations, just about everything you can measure.  Another key measure is attrition, or retention. Knowing your trends and the nuances of your trends is an essential component of Supply Analysis.

Demand Analysis is a little more subjective, but it is just as important as Supply Analysis.  Key parts of this segment include future plans for the business such as new products or services/products that may be eliminated.  External forces are also essential when considering Demand Analysis as well as knowing what skillsets are needed.  One of the most challenging parts of DA is quantifying these issues in order to move to the next part of the plan, Gap Analysis.

Gap Analysis takes the informatin generated by Supply Analysis and Demand Analysis and takes into consideration where there is over supply, under supply and which of these provide the greatest vulnerabilities for the firm.  This may seem like a simple process, but you will see that it can become very complex when we move to the Solution Analysis phase, our next step.

Solution Analysis takes all that we have prepared in the first three steps and then plans forward for the best solution, or solutions, in order to meet future business needs.  SA may involve areas such as:

  • Recruiting-Talent Acquisition
  • Training-Retraining
  • Contingent Staffing
  • Outsourcing 

There are multiples steps that must be considered in each of these four areas, but I think by now you will see that Workforce Planning is a fundamental step that each organization should be taking into consideration.

One other key point need to be made before we close on this.  The most important part of Workforce Planning is how closely it ties in with the firm's Strategic Plan.  Some organizations do not have good communication between the Business and the Human Resources function and there may be a disconnect between the WP and Strategic Planning function or process.  Not having that connection is a great cause for concern and it can cause serious damage to the firm as they prepare for the future.  Workforce Planning is managed by the HR function, but is must be supported and driven by Top managment starting with the C-suite.  Unless this becomes a joint effort the firm will be less successful than anticipated and the related challenges can be many.

Workforce Planning-the future is now; are you ready?