The process of strategic workforce planning impacts an organization's hiring, business focus and descriptions of job functions across departments. The process includes analysis, objective development and communication. Human resources professionals and organizational leadership play key roles in this business exercise.
Strategic Workforce Planning Defined
Workforce planning is the business process used by companies to effectively plan for future hiring needs and staffing expectations. The process, a partnership between human resources and the leadership of the organization, establishes steps used to identify, acquire, develop and retain a thriving employee base. Strategic workforce planning typically includes budget and resource allocation to meet hiring needs, forecasting of problem areas and hiring needs and the successful integration of the company's mission and business focus. (See Reference 1)
Benefits of Strategic Workforce Planning Tools
To create a workforce planning strategy, organizations need to establish benchmarks, outline goals and garner support from management and staff. Strategic workforce planning tools allow an organization to collect data to begin analysis on critical existing hiring and staffing needs. Planning also helps to gauge the external workforce to assist in forming effective recruitment strategies to bring in candidates for future roles. Finally, it assists the company in surveying their employee population to identify the effectiveness of strategy once it has been deployed. (See Reference 2)
Career Patterns Analysis
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has developed the Career Patterns approach as a tool for workforce planning. Career Patterns analysis is an organizational exercise that prompts a business to analyze job requirements to create a fact-based plan for an effective work environment. This tool challenges the company to match careers and benefits with the preferences and desires of the greater workforce to establish mutually beneficial expectations and job requirements. This helps the company identify ways to become a more desirable employer and potentially attract future candidates while ensuring jobs are functionally appropriate to the needs of the company. (See Reference 3)
Establishing Objectives Using SMART
In the 2008 "Washington State Guide to Developing Strategic Workforce Plans," it was stated that defining objectives allows the organization to formulate the results they expect to receive by achieving established goals. To ensure objectives are effective and aligned with business needs, the guide proposes using the SMART method, a series of questions based on the acronym: is the objective specific in how the company will succeed? Is the objective measurable? Is the objective action-oriented? Is the objective realistic? Is the objective time-oriented and attainable within the time established? (See Resource 1)
Workforce Planning Website
The Georgia State Personnel Administration suggests a workforce planning website as a way to consolidate tools, resources, documentation and general information about an organization's workforce planning initiative. By creating a central repository of content on an internal website, an organization can control and manage the dissemination of information to strategic partners, while ensuring any supplemental materials that may assist managers or HR professionals in understanding the workforce planning process is readily available from a public location. (See Resource 2)
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