Broadly speaking, workforce planning is the creation, formulation, and execution of strategy pertaining to the optimization of organizational talent. Workforce planning encompasses talent acquisition, recruitment, development, retention, optimization, learning programs, and talent demand forecasting.
Workforce management and planning is often housed inside the talent acquisition or the broader Human Resources department. However, individual department heads are often responsible for creating the tactical plans around specific employee development. Additionally, solid workforce plans have to anticipate talent gaps in organizations, so departmental managers are often tasked with mapping employee skill assessments and development plans with their functional needs and anticipated requirements.
Relation to Human Resources
The HR department is typically responsible for looking at the employees of a company and assessing how those employees fit into the long term organizational needs and goals of the company. Based on recommendations from HR or talent department, organizations might implement programs such as:
- Strategic recruitment programs
- Contingent labor management shifts
- Assessment of employees
- Knowledge sharing, learning, or educational initiatives
- Mentoring programs
- Layoffs based on talent / employee redundancy
- Strategic outsourcing initiatives
- Interdepartmental employee rotation
- Time and labor optimization
- Incentive and benefits optimization
Initiatives such as these aim at optimizing labor output, decreasing costs, or managing future talent demand.
Workforce Planning Software
In the past few years, greater attention has been paid to the area of workforce planning software. Previously cast into separate silos of assessment, labor management, production yield, retention, and talent demand forecasting, certain HR software can manage all or various aspects of workforce design and management. Features of planning software can now encompass a wide range of operational assessment and capacity planning. Some of the features can now include a wealth of features within one enterprise grade HR platform, such as:
- Talent acquisition metrics
- Recruitment and applicant tracking
- Management planning and optimization
- Benefits and Compensation
- Competitive talent analysis
- Succession Planning
- Employee Intranet / Portal
- Performance analytics
- Talent demand and labor output reports
- Talent forecasting
- Learning Management
- Social Collaboration
Modern HR workforce platforms offer highly advanced and comprehensive tools, workforce modeling systems, and reporting structures, all within intuitive dashboards. This area of technology is relatively new, so look for SaaS systems that can upgrade and adapt as technology progresses.
Benefits to Workforce Planning
- Workforce Planning Topics for Recruiters: Workforce planning or optimization is the managing of all the human resources in a company, including salaries, benefits, career planning, employee performance, training and retention. As talented human resources professionals, recruiters should be familiar with Workforce planning practices in order to help their clients and their candidates.
- Importance for Recruiters: While some headhunters or contingency recruiters may think that they don’t need to know these human resources management topics, these kinds of employee management strategies are very important for all recruiters. Corporate recruiters who work for only one client will also need to be well versed in workforce management planning, or WFM. Since WFM practices include things like employee retention policies, career planning, onboarding and benefits packages, recruiters may already know more than they think about Workforce planning.
- Benefits to Employers: Obviously, employers can benefit from workforce management practices by having a happier, more efficient and productive workforce. The first step for many employers is to analyze the efficiency of their employees. When companies understand how their employees work and what will make them most successful, then they can improve employee experiences, reduce turnover and get more out of their employees. Analyzing human resources with WFM can also help companies find ways to reduce overhead and make employees happy while still paying less for payroll.
- Benefits to Employees: With Workforce planning systems in place, employees can have a more efficient and happier work environment. One of the reasons companies suffer high employee turnover is dissatisfaction with working conditions or management, and WFM practices help companies streamline their processes and improve management structures. These improvements result in higher employee loyalty and retention.
- Benefits to Recruiters: Getting the right candidates into the right position is a major component of WFM, and recruiters are the ones that make that happen for their clients. Recruiters can also work with their clients to make sure that the current job opening will result in more efficiency and production. Recruiters can practice Workforce planning by making sure candidates and new hires are moving forward in their careers with their new job and making sure clients support them with employee retention policies like tuition reimbursement and performance bonuses.