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Workforce planning may be the most important part of your business. It essentially means you will have the right people with the right skills to deliver your business objectives today, but more importantly for the next three, five and even ten years.

However, planning your workforce is a complicated process, with many factors to consider. Before you even start thinking about the types of people you need, who even knows what your business will be working on in the future.  And with ever changing technology and the growing automation market who will you even need?

You should start by thinking about your company’s business plan, objectives and KPI’s. Is there a new product they are looking to produce? Is there a market they are looking to move into?  Is the company looking to sell or merge?

Taking these into consideration you can see where the company is aiming and the type of people that you will need to reach these objectives. If you can match your team to being able to deliver these objectives at the right time then you will have a successful strategic workforce plan.

Next, to future proof your team you need to think about:

  • Do you have the right workforce to meet your short and long term goals?
  • What types of roles and skills do you need?
  • Do you need to reorganise the business?
  • Do you have the resources and processes to train staff to move with business needs?
  • Is your turnover rate low and do you have a strong pipeline of candidates?
  • Do you have the analytics in place to ensure your team are performing today and moving towards to where you need them to be?

Once you have thought about this it’s time to build your plan. Remember it should be closely correlated to your business plan and updated with any changes to this. You’ll need to review regularly.

Start with the outputs of the team and how this could be delivered through different skills and positions. Do not think about people already in these positions as you’ll get preconceived ideas on existing staff and how they fit in.  At this stage, you want to be building your workforce utopia.

From this build frameworks and structures for each team. This is very useful as you can see how roles will progress to meet future requirements. Build job descriptions for each position within the team.  You’ll need to think about who you need for today and how that skill set could develop for the future.

Now, it’s time to review your current staff and see where the gaps are and work out how you can either move people or train and upskill. Training, development plans and structures will be vital to keeping your teams ready for what’s next.  Then it’s time to identify the gaps, build pipelines and start recruiting!

Louise Reed is a recruitment professional and strategic HR thinker.

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