In the aura of workforce and economic development, we always hear about workforce planning and how various entities are heavily involved in developing planning tools to help existing businesses and to recruit new businesses to their respective communities. However, when you think about it…’what the heck IS workforce planning?’ Many businesses are conducting workforce planning without even really knowing that it is occurring – it’s embedded in the grain of the organizational operation. Most workforce plans are written documents, policies, etc., but unfortunately many managers just tend to “wing it” when it comes to organizing the work schedule of his or her employees. Hopefully, this article will help you to understand how important workforce planning is to your business…not just for the HR department, but for the organization as a whole. So, regardless if it’s a call center, a restaurant, grocery store, manufacturing plant or a global corporation…workforce planning is critical in helping your business in the following areas:
- Responding to Customer Demands – Your organization must be adequately staffed to be able to respond to your customers in a timely manner. Therefore, management must plan to have enough workers on duty to meet your customers’ demands at all times. That means, you must know the high traffic peaks and low traffic peaks of your business; you must know the volume of incoming calls and the time frames that you will receive the highest number of calls; you must have workers stationed at the cashier’s desk so that paying customers can checkout when they are ready to do so. All of these steps and many others, depending on your type of business, will make huge strides in your workforce planning so that it will be efficient and effective.
- Managing Organizational Costs – Salaries and wages of your workers will most likely be one of your highest costs in the organization. Therefore, it is vital to have controls in place that prevent these costs from spiraling out of control. Effective workforce planning means finding that optimal balance in making sure you have just enough workers on duty at any given time to meet the organizations objectives. Too many workers on-site can result in unnecessary wage costs and too few workers on-site can result in an increased level of unsatisfied customers. So it is very important to gather information and data so you can plan and schedule your workforce accordingly.
- Adapting to Needed Changes – If you have a workforce plan in place, your business can more easily adapt to changes as they are needed within your organization. For example, if your business is preparing to implement new technology or software systems, a proper workforce plan will help you to predict the time and cost savings that can be made and allow you to adjust staffing levels. Without an effective workforce plan, then you will be operating on a trial and error basis with a high risk of wasting precious resources as you go through the organizational change.
- Training and Re-Training Workers – Workers must be fully trained to do the job they have been tasked to do. This is management’s responsibility to see that workers are adequately equipped with the skills needed to successfully complete their assigned tasks. Workforce planning allows managers to identify skill gaps and areas of needed training in order to improve overall performance and/or productivity. Careful workforce planning to meet these training needs will ensure that your workers are trained appropriately.
- Identifying Inefficiencies – A workforce plan will help managers visualize how available labor resources are being utilized. This will assist the organization in focusing on areas that are most costly to the company and develop practices that can reduce or eliminate wasteful spending, especially as it relates to salaries and wage costs. Using an effective workforce planning document in this instance can also encourage more creative thinking that may result in new and innovative techniques being developed that will make the organization more competitive.
Regardless of the type of business you manage, if you have employees – then you should have a workforce planning tool in place that will allow you to make the best and most informed decisions about the operations of your organization. This tool will help streamline operational practices and make your company more efficient in multiple departments and move you one step closer to marking your spot in the industry. How is your organization’s workforce planning tool impacting the bottom line? Let me know by leaving a comment below. And be sure to follow me on Twitter here.