The 5-step guide to successful Strategic Workforce Planning

Great talent plays a huge part in successfully growing a business. That’s why having the intelligence to predict the skills and employees you will need in the future and at the right time is crucial for any organisation.

What is Strategic Workforce Planning?

Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) is about aligning your hiring needs to your overall business strategy; ensuring that your organisation’s talent supply is optimised and prepared to match business needs at the right time.

It is the analytical, planning and forecasting process of defining plans to balance business demand and the supply of key talent over time.

A lot of businesses that use SWP struggle to get it right. Without the right expertise to effectively implement a good strategic workforce plan, you run the risk of not having the adequate headcount to grow your business, which can also impact your existing employees. Another risk is taking on too much talent, which can unnecessarily eat into your bottom line.

Smart organisations also embed Strategic Workforce Planning into aspects outside of recruitment, including: staff retention, training and development, compensation and benefits, so it’s important that implementing this is done successfully.

If your business is looking to take advantage of Strategic Workforce Planning and successfully implement it into your business, you need to follow these 5 important steps.

Step 1: Align the business strategy with your hiring needs

Your short and long-term business strategies must be clear in order to plan your hiring needs accurately. Your workforce plan needs and strategies must be aligned.

Review your Strategic Workforce Plan anytime there is a change to the business strategy, whether it’s rolling out a new product, growing geographically or expanding into a new market.

Ultimately, you need to ask yourself what aspects of your business strategy could change the current talent and acquisition strategy.

To successfully carry out the following steps, it’s very important that you build this into your process. If Step 1 is not correctly aligned, it will lead to discrepancies throughout all of your Strategic Workforce Planning.

Step 2: Ascertain your future needs for talent and skills

Once you’ve aligned your business strategy to your workforce plan, you now need to identify and make an inventory of skills and competencies that are needed to support that.

Break down the skills and competencies needed against the external and internal talent supply. Project how many staff are needed, as well as when and where they’ll be needed.

Ask yourself: what types of talent are required to enable the shifts in strategy, what are the timelines for each stage of the recruitment process (screening, interview, offer, notice period, onboarding etc)?

It’s also important to prioritise roles and outline which of these are critical to the success of the business strategy so resourcing can be allocated effectively.

Step 3: Analyse talent supply and conduct gap analysis

Analysing your internal workforce will help you to identify the current competencies you already have in-house, and any potential gaps in your workforce that you’ll need to fill.

You should also examine the demographic trends in your workforce and how they have shifted overtime. This will further inform your recruitment process and weigh any existing employee compensations and value propositions against the market and competitors.

Surveys are great ways to collect employee opinions on multiple aspects of the business. It’s also worth reviewing employee exit surveys to get an insight into the level of employee satisfaction across your teams and departments.

Step 4: Develop a talent acquisition strategy and implement your plan

Once you have identified what talent you need and when you will need it, the next step is to develop a tactical plan identifying the best course of action. This plan should will establish the governance structure and processes in place to implement it.

The following points should be considered:

  • What do your various talent strategies (recruitment, retention, work plans, promotions…) cost the organisation—both budget and impact on the employee morale?
  • How would changes in the market or organisation impact your plan (potential organisation restructure, downturn in production, increased competition…)?
  • How do your succession and development plans prepare your business for filling your talent needs?
  • Who are the key business stakeholders? What elements of the plan need to be reviewed by them?
  • How should we manage communications and the roll-out of the strategy?
  • How will we partner with others to integrate the workforce plan into existing initiatives?
  • What technology will be needed to monitor and showcase the success of the workforce plan?
  • What training will we needed to maintain the strategy across all relevant teams and to effectively report the KPIs needed?

Step 5: Monitor impact and progress

Once you have implemented your plan and chosen the right technology to monitor its success it’s vital to continuously monitor the impact and progress of your plan. This will ensure that you keep the action plan aligned and on target with the business goals and strategy.

Identify the key metrics you need to measure success, so you can monitor and optimise the strategy as it progresses.

Review all existing metrics and create benchmarks so you have a comparison. Consider the key stakeholders that will need visibility on the progress of the plan and communicate regularly.

Need advice for your Strategic Workforce Plan?

Cpl is a global provider of people to start-up companies, massive multinationals and SMEs in every sector. We can help you define a set of procedures for workforce planning to avoid or diminish people problems, take advantage of talent opportunities and improve your “talent pipeline.”

Strategic Workforce Planning can encompass all the aspects of an organisation including; retention, recruitment, learning and development, and compensation and benefits. Taking an integrated approach enables you to determine which talent segments deliver high returns and therefore need higher investment.

If you have any questions or would like some advice please get in touch with a member of our team. You can also download our free Strategic Workforce Planning guide.