Strategic workforce planning is when you anticipate your organisation’s future workforce needs and aim to achieve these needs by closely aligning with top-level business objectives. When implemented correctly, a strategic workforce plan can ensure you get the right people, with the right skills, at the right time. In other words, it’s vital for business success.
In today’s increasingly agile and digital world, being strategically-minded is pivotal for any modern business. Rapid change is the norm, and the jobs and skills of today may soon become the jobs and skills of yesteryear. Amid hypercompetitive talent markets and the widespread uncertainty of the post-COVID economy, merely paying lip service to strategy is simply not enough.
To survive and thrive, STEM businesses need to walk the walk when it comes to their people. Because people are, after all, the most important asset that any organisation can call upon. With strategic workforce planning, you can build a workforce that truly reflects your company’s mission, vision, and values — whatever your sector or specialism.
In this article, we’ll look at eights reasons why strategic workforce planning is a worthwhile investment for any business.
The benefits of strategic workforce planning
1. Prepare for the future
The main goal of strategic workforce planning is to inform you about current issues within your workforce and help you analyse future risks related to labour. In other words, it’s about creating a long-term action plan that prepares your business for the uncertainty of the future. This will allow human resources to anticipate how labour costs will be affected as your company scales.
2. Identify skills gaps in the workforce
Strategic workforce planning enables you to analyse key workforce gaps or discrepancies that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. By identifying these gaps and outlining what needs to be done to close them, managers can get a better handle on the type of people their company needs to succeed.
3. Improve recruitment processes
Following on from the previous benefit, effective workforce planning gives you the insights to fine-tune your talent planning and recruitment strategy. When managers are aware of the skills gap(s) and the type of people needed to fill the void, recruitment efforts (including recruitment marketing and the candidate journey) can be tailored to attract the right people at the right time.
4. Increase administrative efficiency
Turning to an appropriate workforce management solution will automate any labour-intensive tasks or processes, helping to save time and free up managers to focus on their teams and fulfil strategic objectives. Additional benefits to this increased efficiency include improved compliance and better customer satisfaction.
5. Achieve substantial cost savings
We said earlier that people are the most important asset any business can call upon. They’re also the costliest: labour costs are usually the single biggest overhead for businesses. Through strategic workforce planning, organisations can better control these costs through workforce strategies such as managing overtime or reducing the size of teams.
6. Increase productivity and employee engagement
According to research by HR.com, 40% of businesses attributed a sudden increase in employee productivity levels to the implementation of strategic workforce planning. When employees are more productive and given the space to pursue more meaningful tasks, they are more likely to be engaged and buy into the company values.
7. Cut down on absenteeism
Absenteeism is a huge problem for business. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the absence rate for all full-time wage and salary workers is 2.8% -- costing billions in lost productivity. When adopted strategically, workforce solutions such as wellness programs, paid-time-off, and flexible working are proven to reduce absenteeism.
8. Gain powerful business insight
With informed and data-driven strategic workforce planning, business leaders are given real-time insights into how their business is performing when it comes to people. Whether measuring the number of people taking sick days or how the attrition rate compares to previous forecasts, these powerful data insights enable leaders to manage their business more effectively.