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Right now, all businesses, large and small are engaged in strategic workforce planning. Many of us are doing so unconsciously, but no doubt, we are all trying to navigate through the many challenges that this pandemic has and is imposing on each of us.

Many teams are working remotely, while some have returned to the physical office in modified form and some businesses have moved to a hybrid mix of both. This places tremendous importance on quality communication to enable informed decisions to be made and actioned timely.

Connection & Agility are more critical today, than ever before.

The speed at which our environment is changing is demanding that organisations today must remain connected to their Customers, their Team/s and the broader community, or they will become casualties of these challenging times.

With connection comes the need to remain agile with the capacity to modify your business model quickly to best respond to challenges and opportunities.

But as with most things, we need to have clear guidance, because the “game plan” needs to be clear for all involved and this is where strategic workforce planning comes into play.

So, what is strategic workforce planning and how does it work?

In simple terms, strategic workforce planning is the process of making sure businesses have the right number of people, with the right skill for the business to deliver on its operational plans and ultimately their promises to their customers.

Strategic workforce planning is often conducted around the timing of annual budgets and may take a full twelve months to complete. As previously mentioned, the current dynamic environment and the speed of change does not lend itself to long term workforce planning, as it may have previously and that is why Connection with your people and an Agile business profile are critical components today.

Regardless of the current circumstances, the process remains the same – it just needs to be reviewed more frequently. The benefits of strategic workforce planning can be significant. There are 5 steps involved in the process:

  1. Clarify your starting position

You need to be very clear on your current position which includes financial; operational; your people (quality and capacity) and the impactors on your commercial environment.

  1. Explore your trading options

This exploration of options or scanning your commercial environment for opportunities is not new thinking, it just requires consistency of effort with your “radar” always switched on. As mentioned previously, the speed of change currently dictates that your scanning for opportunities should probably be focused on 1 – 6 months, with further planning out to 12 months.

In terms of strategic workforce planning, you need to determine what impacts this will have on your current workforce.

  1. Capacity Planning

Once you have identified some plausible options you need to start putting some numbers around those options to determine what the likely outcome could be. This will assist you in finalising your preferred action plan.

  1. Gap Analysis

This is a critical component for any strategic plan and is where much of the critical decisions around workforce planning are made. Firstly, you need to reference your “Step 1” review of your current workforce and their quality and capacity to deliver on your plans. This process will generally add to your overall strategic plan, as you will likely need to reposition some staff into areas they are better suited and will deliver better outcomes.

You may also identify some members of your Team that are unable to “step up” to assist in the delivery of your plan and will need to be replaced with individual/s who are able to deliver on your plans.

  1. Implementation

This is all about action and delivery of your plan. A very high requirement for clarity of communication throughout your business, with an eye on the constantly changing commercial environment, as you need to be agile and ready for change.

  1. Review

Measure; Report; Modify and Act.