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    What Is Strategic Workforce Planning?

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    What Is Strategic Workforce Planning?

    February 10, 2021

    The right staffing decisions is a crucial element of making your business the best it can be, but knowing how to adjust positions and employees to meet your needs can be challenging. Fortunately, strategic workforce planning can help you identify ways to make the most effective current and future hiring decisions.

    This guide will introduce you to key elements of strategic workforce planning, such as why it's important, ways that it can benefit your business, and signs that it might be time to reevaluate your company's strategic workforce planning. 

    Understanding Strategic Workforce Planning

    Understanding how strategic workforce planning works and benefits your company can go a long way toward helping you make the best staffing decisions — both now and in the future. Here are answers to common questions that arise at the start of the process:

    What Is Strategic Workforce Planning?

    Strategic workforce planning involves carefully considering the hiring needs that you expect your company to have in both the near and distant future based on a wide variety of factors. It includes thinking about current positions, age groups, and other demographics within your current organization, as well as how you expect the hiring needs that are linked to these concepts to change over time.  

    Why Is Such Planning Needed?

    Technology is impacting the types of positions that are typically available, Gen Z is beginning to replace baby boomers in the workforce, and your goals for your company are constantly evolving. These are just a few of the factors that will have an impact on how your workplace looks down the road, and thinking strategically about your hiring decisions is a must for your business to stay competitive in the coming.  

    What Does Strategic Workforce Planning Do?

    Strategic workforce planning aims to help employers identify the types of adjustments that are likely to be needed in the future. The goal is to prepare your company to respond to changes in demographics and other factors so these shifts benefit your company instead of hindering it. 

    Changes that are not planned for can be detrimental to even the most successful companies, but thinking strategically about specific types of people that you would like to add to your workforce and anticipating the effects they may have on your workplace can help you adapt seamlessly over time. 

    Person working on a laptop

    3 Perks of Strategic Workforce Planning

    Strategic workforce planning can have a variety of benefits for both your company and your employees. Here are some of the most significant perks:

    Assess and Address Your Current Gaps

    Although you should always be thinking about how to have all the right people on your team, chances are you'll notice that something is missing or otherwise not quite right when you compare your current workplace to your ideal workplace. Considering what areas of your company's routines are not as efficient as you would like them to be and what you would like to add can give you a starting point for thinking about new positions to create in the near future to help you meet your goals for your company. 

    Plan for Anticipated Turnover

    Even your best employees are often not planning to stay in their current positions forever. Analyzing what demographics and positions are most likely to impact your hiring needs within the next several years can help you identify specific positions that you anticipate needing to fill in the near future and strategize the best ways to recruit and select these new hires.

    Entry-level positions often see frequent turnover within a few years of obtaining the position, and certain top management positions also have a surprisingly high turnover. Gen Z employees are also beginning to replace retirees, and their differences in values, visions, and preferences for the workplace environment may also lead to a shift in how your company looks and functions over time. 

    Prepare for the Unexpected

    Strategic workforce planning can help your company function more successfully if unexpected events impact your employees, operations, or community. Firms that had never considered allowing employees to work from home struggled when forced to adjust to remote work in spring 2020, for example. Those that had begun to consider how to make their policies and environment more appealing to younger generations have always been more interested in this type of work and thus had an easier time transitioning.

    Other impactful events — such as important people within the company leaving or a sudden decline in sales that could lead to layoffs — can also be lessened by anticipating potential problems and how to respond to them in advance.  

    3 Ways to Tell It Might Be Time to Reassess Your Workforce

    Reevaluating if you notice certain issues can help you identify areas in which you may not be making the most strategic decisions, which allows your company to move in a new direction. Here are three ways to know it might be time to reassess your workforce:

    High Employee Turnover

    Although a certain amount of turnover is to be expected, noticing a particularly high number of employees leaving your company during a particular time frame may mean it's a good idea to assess what might be going wrong. Your current budget, staffing, workplace culture, or similar issues may be leaving something to be desired for employees who want more out of their workplace, and pinpointing specific issues can help you strategically decide which areas should have the highest priority when it comes to making adjustments to your workforce. 

    Your Budget Changes

    Your budget can have a significant effect on your company's staffing abilities. Several consecutive quarters of lower profit than you're used to may force you to eliminate positions, while especially high profit can open the door to creating new positions and bringing in more employees to further grow your company. 

    Your Company Isn't Making Progress Toward Your Goals

    Reassessing your workforce is a must if you notice that your company is no longer advancing toward your goals. Although your employees are not the only factor in the success of your company, having a strong workforce filled with individuals that genuinely care about your company and want to go the extra mile to help it succeed can make the difference between a business that barely gets by and one that improves every day.

    At Ignite HCM, we care about helping you make strategic staffing decisions that set your company up for success. Contact us today to speak with an expert about any questions you have about how strategic workforce planning can benefit your business.

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