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Do you ever feel like your business’s workforce planning is happening in a silo, disconnected from your broader business strategy? You’re not alone! Many companies struggle to align their talent management efforts with their core business goals and mission. 

However, having a strategic workforce plan that maps to your business objectives is crucial for business success. When your workforce planning is tied to where your company is headed, you set yourself up for success.

In this post, we will walk through the key elements of building a workforce plan that supports your overall strategy. The goal is to give you a clear framework for workforce planning that drives business results. With the right strategy-aligned plan, you can build an agile, future-ready workforce that evolves as your company does.

What is Workforce Planning and Why Should You Care?

Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of strategic workforce planning, let’s get clear on what it is. Workforce planning is all about forecasting your future talent needs and putting strategies in place to meet those needs.

It’s about having the right people with the right skills in the right roles at the right time to achieve your business objectives. Done right, workforce planning helps you: 

  •     Anticipate critical hiring needs and skill gaps
  •     Build benches of talent to support growth
  •     Identify reskilling and upskilling opportunities
  •     Assess and mitigate risk
  •     Stay nimble in a rapidly changing business environment

The benefits don’t stop there. Solid workforce planning improves employee engagement and retention. It also optimises labour costs when you have the optimal staff for your needs. 

In short, workforce planning gives you a long-term view of your talent, allowing you to see what skills and capabilities you’ll require down the road. And it enables you to take proactive steps to build your future workforce today.

1 – Get Clear on Where Your Business is Headed

Before you can build an aligned workforce plan, you need to start by understanding where your business is going. What’s your strategy over the next 3-5 years? What challenges or opportunities do you foresee? What are your goals and priorities?

Really get clear on the direction your leaders are headed and the external trends that could throw curveballs your way. This analysis gives you important context for determining what your workforce needs to look like down the road. After all, it’s hard to do sound workforce planning without first understanding the business landscape you’ll be operating in.

2 – Analyse Your Current Workforce Profile

Now that you have a handle on your business strategy, take time to analyse your existing workforce. Use workforce planning software to evaluate:

  •     Workforce demographics – where you have concentrations of older or younger workers
  •     Skill profiles – identify proficiencies and gaps
  •     Diversity metrics – assess inclusion and equity
  •     Turnover and retirement projections – who is likely to leave and when
  •     Internal talent bench strength – where you have successor shortfalls

This analysis shines a light on your organisation’s current talent advantages and vulnerabilities – it also uncovers skills you may need to meet future business goals. In essence, you get a data-driven picture of the workforce you have today, versus the one your strategy requires tomorrow. That gap can then inform more strategic recruiting, development, and retention plans.

3 – Forecast Your Future Talent Needs

Armed with a clear understanding of your business strategy and current workforce, you can start projecting your future talent requirements. Factor in growth plans, upcoming initiatives that affect headcount, new skills needed due to technology changes – anything that will shape your workforce needs. 

The goal is to forecast the critical roles, capabilities and culture you’ll need to execute your strategy down the road. For example, expansion plans may require adding more engineers and designers next year. Or introducing a new product line could necessitate upskilling sales people on the new technology.

The output of this step should be a data-backed projection of key hiring needs, skill gaps you’ll need to fill, and roles that are pivotal for future plans. With this insight, you can model different scenarios for building the workforce that aligns with your strategic direction. This becomes the foundation for the rest of your workforce plan elements – recruiting, development, retention – that help construct your strategy-aligned workforce.

4 – Craft Targeted Recruiting and Retention Tactics

Now that you’ve mapped out the critical roles, skills, and capabilities your future business strategy requires, it’s time to develop plans for actually securing that talent.

 You need to craft recruiting, hiring, and onboarding tactics tailored to attracting the specific people your organisation will need more of. That might mean tapping into new sourcing channels, improving your employer brand visibility with certain target groups, or overhauling your interview process. 

Retention is just as key. Work out proactive strategies for keeping your top performers engaged and growing. Develop competitive comp and benefits packages for roles in high demand. Double down on advancement opportunities, flexibility, and other incentives your workforce values.

Basically, use the unique insights from your analysis to build a laser-focused talent plan. Make strategic, data-backed investments in the areas of recruiting and retention that will help you lock in the high-value players important to your strategy. With the right tactics in place, you set yourself up for success as your business evolves.

5 – Track Results and Iterate Your Plan

Building the initial workforce plan is just the beginning. From there, it’s important to keep tracking how it’s working — and make changes when the data shows it’s time. 

Keep an eye on key metrics around hiring, retention, skills gaps. Does the organisation have the workforce the current business strategy demands? If not, use that intel to update tactics. Lean on workforce analytics tools to stay on top of emerging talent trends.

The reality is the business strategy will likely morph over time. The workforce plan has to have the agility to morph with it. By continuously reviewing and refreshing based on results, one can make sure the people strategy stays tight with the organisation’s needs as they progress.

It’s all about having a workforce planning approach that can roll with the changes. One that helps the talent mix evolve as new priorities and opportunities emerge. That’s how to assemble a team ready to take on whatever lies ahead for the business.

Final Word

Getting your workforce strategy to align with your business goals takes effort, no doubt. But with some thoughtful promotion planning upfront — and commitment to regularly iterating — you can build an agile team ready for where your business is headed.

Use data and analytics to forecast roles critical to your strategic aims. Craft recruiting and retention plans tailored to your needs. Track results and adjust as priorities shift. Do this well, and you’ll assemble a workforce adept at pivoting with your business. One that helps you meet goals today while prepping for tomorrow’s opportunities.