Why Workforce Planning is Important

Heather Cox

21 April 2022

7 min read

Why Is Workforce Planning Important?

With the recent crisis of the talent shortage, retaining talent is of crucial importance. Workforce planning can make all the difference when it comes to meeting your current business goals and retaining great employees for the long haul. Here, we’ll dig into what workforce management is and how it applies across a wide range of different sectors. We’ll also discuss how investing in workforce management software can give employers better control over their operations, irrespective of the size and type of business they run.

What is Workforce Planning?

Workforce planning, also known as strategic workforce or HR planning, is a process that allows businesses to review the skills and needs of their staff on an ongoing basis. Generally, it sets out to identify and use a company’s existing pool of skilled workers to the best of its abilities, in order to achieve both immediate and long-term business goals. It can be put into practice in a variety of different ways.

To minimize situations where management teams become the last line of defense, it’s essential for business leaders to have a fixed workforce planning strategy in place. Ideally, this should be as comprehensive as possible, covering the recruitment process, factoring in training and development, and aiming to pair employees with tasks best suited to their working styles, skill sets and career goals.

Risk mitigation in workforce planning

Workforce planning also involves a fair amount of preparation for some worst-case scenarios. In order for it to better predict staff turnover patterns, data related to productivity, attrition rates (aka staff churn), time-to-hire and cost of vacancy is nothing short of invaluable. This is where a reputable workforce management strategy really gets to shine. 

The goal is not only to stay on top of employee relations but also to spot strategic gaps related to reducing labor costs and improving outputs, as well as looking at avenues to help employees strike a healthier work-life balance. 

How can my business implement workforce planning?

Implementing workforce planning is not a ‘one size fits all’ process, and it will take some experimentation to find the right mix of elements for your business. Because it is an ongoing process that will adapt according to the changing needs of the business, it’s good to start with the basics:

  • Gather as much information as possible about the various departments of your workforce. This includes asking department heads about what they anticipate their needs might be in order to reach their targets.
  • Examine the existing workplace profile holistically, spotting any gaps (eg. a high turnover rate) that may signal a bigger problem related to company culture. 
  • Devise an action plan for how you will go about fixing these problems. At this stage, having access to real-time reporting could be especially useful.
  • Actively monitor the plan after it has been implemented so you can make revisions as things unfold.

What Are the Benefits of Workforce Planning?

On top of what we’ve mentioned, workforce planning has a multitude of benefits, primarily letting employers keep a close eye on staffing requirements at all times. This improves the efficiency of the recruitment process, while potentially cutting costs simultaneously. It also has many industry-specific benefits.

Much of the current state of recruitment has been driven by candidates’ sense that they are not sufficiently valued. From jumping through interview hoops to waiting weeks to hear back about a role, “the great resignation” has highlighted the systemic power imbalance between employers and employees in the historically employer-driven market. Businesses must address this fact head-on, and introduce a far more personalized and human approach to recruitment.

Workforce planning in the hospitality industry

According to the AHLA survey, over 63% of companies in the hospitality industry report being severely understaffed. With most hotels and B&Bs still doing whatever they can just to keep their doors open, finding a reliable source of workers is a constant need for the hospitality sector.  

Now that things are returning to a state resembling normalcy in the wake of the COVID-19, the hospitality industry will be keener than ever to get the most out of the employees who remain on their payroll. How? Workforce planning. 

The process will help in more ways than one. Due to a rise in general unemployment rates, businesses in the sector are experiencing effects of the Great Reshuffle, meaning that they need to adjust their workforce model to align with current job seeker priorities. Investing in the right workforce planning software can make it much easier for hiring managers to flesh out the best candidates when it’s time to create an interview shortlist.

Workforce management in retail

Retailers have really had to think on their feet during each lockdown we’ve faced. Those who already had workforce planning in place likely found it easier to spread skills around based on unforeseen changing needs. Businesses in the retail sector that haven’t done so already now have a great opportunity to streamline their workforce in a way that helps them maximize their output. Forget about having to waste more time than necessary with scheduling and payroll processes — the best employer services can take care of the nitty-gritty, leaving managers with more time to focus on big picture challenges instead.

Workforce planning in healthcare

Portrait Of Multi-Cultural Medical Team Standing In Hospital Corridor

Finding a reliable stream of trained staff — each using their skills to drive the entire business forward — is essential in the healthcare sector. Although capacity challenges are somewhat the norm, the industry still needs to remain flexible to manage the ever-present dramatic shifts taking place in the sector. The term “Travel Nurses” is a reference to skilled nurses that have the ability to choose (to an extent) their desired shifts and work patterns. Temporary staffing platforms are entering this segment to deliver the preferences of this high-demand workforce. Devising a good strategy will separate more essential and less essential roles and will always ensure a steady stream of new staff over time.

Workforce planning in facilities management and the industrial sector

Workforce planning can assist in addressing the mounting skills shortage within the industrial sector. Because new practices are emerging all the time, it can be difficult for managers to know exactly how to go about finding the best skills for current and future projects.

In the facilities management industry, there has been a growing demand for managers with strong data integration skills. 

This industry includes roles within:

  • Cleaning
  • Hardware Inspection & Maintenance
  • Transportation
  • Security Services
  • Operational

Our workforce planning system can make recruitment a key part of the broader company strategy, and help factor in skilled new workers going forward. This can mean the difference between long-term survival or being pushed out of the market by a company with a better plan in place. 

At Indeed Flex, we’re proud to offer a workforce management software solution that makes it as time and cost-efficient as possible to organize and implement workforce planning. With one eye constantly on the ever-changing global landscape, we pride ourselves on offering great flexibility, control and choice to employers right across the board. You can learn more by getting in touch with our team, or request a demo to see Indeed Flex in action.