What is Workforce Planning?

Workforce planning is the system used to ensure that the right people are available when they are needed. This will apply to both the day to day running of the organisation as well as the long-term future. When it is implemented, all members of staff should understand not only their role, but who they need to be working with and the level of competence that each area should reach. Working hours and contract lengths should be included so no one can feel badly treated or take advantage.

Why Is It Needed?
It is the perfect plan to follow when policies need to be implemented. Mainly it will cover finance, operations, strategic focus and often the amount of work that must be multi-organisational. Too often people believe that they are aware of their own role and while they may be efficient and competent at what they do, it may not be the best way forward for everyone. Once the roles are known, there is a greater chance of success when it comes to long term goals.

Why Start Now?
There will never be a right or wrong time to start workplace planning, as all companies are different, but the sooner the plans are in place, the more settled and involved employee will feel. The main reasons will include: –

  • Financial concerns – there may not be an immediate problem but could you work your way through a downturn of business?
  • Ensuring that the staff are used in the best way – don’t have a computer whizz chasing invoices or a real people person away from the customers.
  • Don’t let the opposition creep up on you. Customers will want more for less and more quickly. If someone can provide what you can’t you could be in trouble.

Understand the Criteria
Before starting to implement the plan, make sure it is exactly tight. You don’t want to put it into place, then start finding mistakes. A few minor tweaks may be OK, but major issues will cause a great deal of stress and maybe money. Staff could start to lose confidence and that can be hard to regain. The criteria will include: –

  • Collective ownership – no one should feel that they are doing something they don’t believe in or that they cannot become involved in future decisions.
  • Strategies should fit in with already accepted and have something additional to offer. No change for the sake of it.
  • Focus on priorities and when they are agreed, peripheral issues can be dealt with.
  • Make sure ideas are put into action.
  • Have a system that can monitor the system – if things have not worked too well, there is no reason why they cannot be changed and improved.

It will be hard to follow the plans of another organisation as all will need to have their own to suit their views and the wellbeing of staff. The most important thing is that it fit for purpose, and passed on to not only internal staff, but anyone working out of the premises and anyone who deals with them. They ones from other organisations may not fully embrace what is being done but need to respect the reasons for actions by staff of the company implementing workplace planning.

Main Involvement
It will be managers and line managers who will pay the most important roles, but the steering group will need representation from all areas and departments. If there is a union, they need to have a place at the table and they will be vital in keeping the workforce informed. They will also be representing members so there can be fewer actual people making decisions.