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A Crystal Ball into the Future of Your Workforce

This week in HR, we continue our theme of organizational growth and strategic planning, as mentioned last week, and we look at staffing.  A staffing plan is important for companies that forecast costs for shareholders and businesses that want to follow a strategic plan.  It demonstrates the existence of careful planning and thoughtful leadership to customers internally and externally.  It also shows there is a focus on sustainability and fiscal accountability.  Ok – those are the high-level rationale for creating a staffing plan.  Small and medium businesses have practical reasons, too, for creating staffing plans, namely, anticipating and meeting market demands of the future.  Where’s the crystal ball?  There isn’t one.  So, we have a method to substitute divination.

Sometimes your staffing strategy can be as simple as establishing a partnership with a recruiting firm that specializes in the key Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA’s) needed for the operative timeframe for which the staffing plan is in effect.  And that can be great.  There are still good reasons to attempt to forecast your workforce needs through a careful method.  (I will write about skills gap analyses soon, because these are important groundwork for assessing present state, which is prerequisite to anticipating future needs.)  The following process is more elaborate than calling a recruiting firm; it outlines the considerations and steps from A to Z to create a long-term solution to what might traditionally be an opaque area for most employers – the future of your workforce.

What to do to ensure a smooth implementation?  At least 3 things:

  1. Make sure your plan and the planning process are consistent with other planning practices at the company.  Consistency is an important ingredient for feasibility.
  2. Make sure you have a cohesive and critical team to create the plan.  Through collaboration, they can quality assure.
  3. Make sure you have identified those responsible for fulfilling the plan.  Hiring managers and recruiters need to be on board with your staffing initiative for successful implementation.

Resources needed for the staffing plan are as follows, and not limited to, depending on the complexity of your organization:

  • Budget—for example, fees for recruiting firms, advertising and job posting costs.
  • A project schedule that meets the organization’s planning needs but is also realistic.
  • A staffing plan team of sufficient size and with adequate availability. Tasks span all aspects of the staffing plan—from planning through implementation to assessment. Members may perform staffing plan tasks in addition to their regular assignments.
  • The knowledge required to shape the plan to specific stakeholder circumstances—for example, previous experience with restructuring initiatives, insight gained from a SWOT analysis or analysis of succession plans.  Gather people who have previous relevant experience to your guiding coalition.
  • Equipment, facilities, and materials—for example, videoconferencing equipment for interviews or access fees to premium recruitment sites/services.
  • Logistical support—for example, analysis and IT services.

These are the important paving stones for the staffing plan.  Next are the elements of a staffing plan (the topics or headers and contents of a formal written plan):

Staffing Plan Element Purpose
Statement of purpose Establishes the goals and targets for the staffing plan
Stakeholders Identifies key decision makers and others who should be involved in the development of the plan
Activities and tasks Describes the activities and tasks that need to be carried out and the timeline for completion; notes relationships between activities, tasks, and deliverables
Team members Identifies all the people who have been assigned or who have volunteered to work on specific activities, tasks, and deliverables
Resources Documents financial and nonfinancial resources required for implementation
Communication plan Notes specific tactics and responsibilities for communicating initial details about the plan as well as monitoring the plan and soliciting ongoing feedback
Continuous improvement Sets up a process to review the extent to which tactical objectives are achieved; identifies ways to continuously improve the plan

Staffing Plan Elements - Documenting and Formalizing

Who are your allies and who are the potential resisters?  Well, since you asked, they’re the very stakeholders needed to actually implement your plan.  Be ready to win over your organization with useful data.  The primary people you’ll be dealing with are:

  • Organizational management:
    • Are they convinced of the strategic value of the staffing plan?
    • Will they publicly endorse the staffing plan and encourage the support of others?
  • HR management:
    • Is there agreement that the staffing plan will support HR’s goals?
    • Does the staffing plan integrate with plans of other HR functions?
  • Line management:
    • Are they convinced that the staffing plan will help meet their business objectives?
    • Will they actively and publicly support the staffing plan?
  • Other organizational units:
    • Have the implications of the staffing plan been discussed with them?
    • Has the creation of the staffing plan been synchronized with their planning functions?
  • Union leadership:
    • Have their concerns been identified in advance to avoid unexpected conflict?
    • Can the staffing plan be devised to support union goals while still meeting organizational goals?

If you’re growing, see the following table for how different kinds of growth strategies can impact your staffing plan.

Staffing Plan Element Purpose
Statement of purpose Establishes the goals and targets for the staffing plan
Stakeholders Identifies key decision makers and others who should be involved in the development of the plan
Activities and tasks Describes the activities and tasks that need to be carried out and the timeline for completion; notes relationships between activities, tasks, and deliverables
Team members Identifies all the people who have been assigned or who have volunteered to work on specific activities, tasks, and deliverables
Resources Documents financial and nonfinancial resources required for implementation
Communication plan Notes specific tactics and responsibilities for communicating initial details about the plan as well as monitoring the plan and soliciting ongoing feedback
Continuous improvement Sets up a process to review the extent to which tactical objectives are achieved; identifies ways to continuously improve the plan

Who are your allies and who are the potential resisters?  Well, since you asked, they’re the very stakeholders needed to actually implement your plan.  Be ready to win over your organization with useful data.  The primary people you’ll be dealing with are:

  • Organizational management:
    • Are they convinced of the strategic value of the staffing plan?
    • Will they publicly endorse the staffing plan and encourage the support of others?
  • HR management:
    • Is there agreement that the staffing plan will support HR’s goals?
    • Does the staffing plan integrate with plans of other HR functions?
  • Line management:
    • Are they convinced that the staffing plan will help meet their business objectives?
    • Will they actively and publicly support the staffing plan?
  • Other organizational units:
    • Have the implications of the staffing plan been discussed with them?
    • Has the creation of the staffing plan been synchronized with their planning functions?
  • Union leadership:
    • Have their concerns been identified in advance to avoid unexpected conflict?
    • Can the staffing plan be devised to support union goals while still meeting organizational goals?

If you’re growing, see the following table for how different kinds of growth strategies can impact your staffing plan.

Growth Strategies Talent Acquisition Implications
Merger/acquisition New talent resources become part of the organization. Retention of key talent is a major issue. It is critical to have HR practitioners play a major role in due diligence to ensure that all potential costs are identified beforehand.
Joint venture The type of joint venture, what the partnership agrees to, and the people the partner contributes (e.g., number of employees, skill sets) all influence talent acquisition.
Greenfield Operation A new site needs all new staff. Due diligence is important to understand local laws and employment regulations. This can be a huge effort, especially when the local labor market is underdeveloped.
Strategic Alliance Depending on the type of alliance, this could have no or considerable staffing impact. In many strategic alliances, employees remain with their own companies. If a new venture is formed in the alliance, then talent acquisition plans are directly affected.

Next week, I’ll discuss a communication plan related to staffing – how you actually make it work through excitement and motivation. Call or email us with any questions on how you can look into the future with confidence and methodology. Philip@crescent-payroll.com

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