strategic workforce planning

Posted on in human resources

Strategic Workforce Planning – Bridging the Gap Between HR and Business Strategy

The role of HR affects all aspects of your organization. Employees are your most important resource. People are key to your strategy and the relationship is direct, not abstract. Performance and efficiency are greatly improved when the HR approach is tightly integrated with the wider business strategy.

This integration has developed over time and become known as strategic workforce planning.

Strategic workforce planning is both proactive and predictive. It involves processes designed to align human resources with the strategic goals of an organization. Workforce management is more than managing recruitment, retention, and attrition. With strategic workforce planning, you can implement ongoing processes that allow you to assess present and future needs covering skills, experience, labor supply, and demand.

With data-driven forecasting and ongoing assessment, you can ensure that your resources are best allocated to support organizational goals.

What’s Driving Leaders to Strategic Workforce Planning?

Efficiency and success both have an impact on the bottom line. There are some key reasons that the most successful companies have transitioned to include strategic workforce planning.

  • Productivity is improved in the workforce. Companies become more agile with strategic workforce planning as people can be invested in a way that supports business goals.
  • Workforce issues are addressed with strategic workforce planning. An aging workforce, lack of diversity, or a lack of specific skills and employee traits are more easily overcome.
  • The future is secure with strategic workforce planning. Aligning HR practices with high-level company strategy can address shortcomings today. It will also ensure that future goals are met as HR and leadership can look at data to run scenarios that aid in workforce deployment and reorganization.

When you consider the drivers and advantages of strategic workforce planning, the details that emerge can become overwhelming. At a high level, the concept is sound and will make sense to any leader focused on growth and efficiency. But there are levels of complexity that must be addressed to make strategic workforce planning both successful and sustainable.

Simple Areas of Focus to Put Complex Strategic Workforce Planning into Perspective

The barriers to strategic workforce planning fall away when you break the complexity down into actionable segments.

  • Skills are core to your workforce. Strategy can be attributed to specific skills where your organization identifies the capabilities and job roles that will support success.
  • Sites A capable staff needs to be at the right locations. This has never been more evident than in the age of COVID-19 and its interruption to global business. Strategic workforce planning can outline capable staff and where they should be. Many organizations will need relocation support to move key positions to the right sites.
  • Size is key to efficiency and cost management. Does your organization have the numbers in specific roles to support company goals? Could staff be redeployed to balance capabilities?
  • Security for the future means looking beyond today. Forecasting is a significant aspect of strategic workforce planning. Goals change and talent moves around. Having a robust talent pipeline is critical.
  • Spending runs parallel to strategic workforce planning. Capability and efficiency should be kept within the context of the cost to the business.

The approach for your organization will be unique. While the core aspects remain the same, implementation can vary dramatically. To apply strategic workforce planning you must have a detailed understanding of your company’s values and goals. Risks and challenges should be identified based on existing data and predictions. Detailing your internal decision-making process could highlight areas where strategic workforce planning could be bottlenecked, allowing you to take steps for improvement.

Your current forecasting and workforce management activities should also come into focus. You may already perform some aspects of strategic workforce planning as part of your broader HR and leadership strategy. Implementation doesn’t require that you rewrite the book and change your entire organizational structure and culture. Elements can be introduced gradually and where necessary.

Strategic Workforce Planning Aligns with Mobility

Workforce mobility can be one element of strategic workforce planning. With the right approach, it won’t be an obstacle.

Because workforce mobility focuses on supporting talent acquisition, developing human capital, and supporting operations on a large domestic or global scale, it is naturally aligned to strategy.

When managing a diverse and decentralized workforce, mobility should become a key element of strategic workforce planning. Many organizations will even find that it’s simpler to support the core company strategy and vision when the pool of talent is larger and more dispersed.

Partnering with a relocation management company (RMC) can streamline staff relocation and global talent management without having to divert limited internal resources.

Is Your HR Approach and Business Strategy Aligned?

Without closely integrating HR and strategy, your organization will face unnecessary vulnerabilities. Strategic workforce planning will ensure that your leadership team evaluates the bigger picture, where HR supports the company objectives through clearly defined strategies that acquire, manage, deploy, and improve human capabilities through forecasting and continued improvement and development.

Your strategic workforce planning could be the key differentiator between success and stagnation in a competitive industry.