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What is Workforce Planning and Why Does it Matter during Covid-19?

  • Uldduz Sohrabi
  • 23rd April 2020

Due to COVID-19, businesses are being pushed to look into their workforce management. It is at this crucial time that businesses are required to close talent gaps and ensure that all essential skills are fully utilised, especially for sectors that are responding to smaller demands, as well as sectors such as the industrial, who are responding to higher demands. In this article, we’ll explain what workforce management is, how you can approach it in your business, and why it is crucial at the time of crisis.

Workforce management is a daunting prospect at times, as the implementation of it can be difficult and with the changing role of the workforce in spaces with increasing technology, the very definition of workforce planning is also changing. 

What is workforce planning? 

Workforce planning is a process put in place to analyse the current people hired, determining future workforce needs, and identifying the gap between the present and future. Following the planning process, there will be the execution of following through the plan and this would be done to align with a company accomplishing its mission, goals, and strategic planning. 

Your company’s goal in workforce planning would be to get the right number of people with the right skills for the best cost to achieve both short and long-term goals. 

What could strategic workforce planning do for your business?

  • Reduce labour costs of workforce deployment
  • Responding to your clients with changing needs by having the right workforce 
  • Target internal inefficiencies to improve productivity 
  • Improve quality work produced 
  • Strategise development for talents
  • Getting your workforce on the right contract such as full-time, contractor, flexible worker, etc. 

 How to start workforce planning

Begin by breaking down workforce planning into two stages; ‘soft’ and ‘hard’. Understanding what these are, and looking at your business through both lenses.

Hard planning (quantitative approach) refers to statistical data. Think of this as getting an overview of the numbers and determining the metrics you want to measure within management. Your business could then use management information systems to help you understand the correlation and patterns of the metrics, within context. 

Soft planning (qualitative approach) refers to defining a strategy, where your business merges data with context to get a better understanding of how these relate to your talents. Bringing both of these approaches together will help managers to evaluate a range of options to identify the gaps in your workforce and maximise by plugging the gaps through making appropriate changes. 

 When you start workforce planning, your goal is to achieve an understanding of the following:

  1. Understanding your business and its environment
  2. Analyse the present and future potential workforce
  3. Determine future workforce needs
  4. Identify workforce gaps in comparison to future needs
  5. Actions to address shortages, surpluses or skill mismatches 
  6. Monitor and evaluate actions  

How to conquer Workforce planning during COVID-19

In the peak of the pandemic, it’s even more critical to get this in place to understand how your business best can react. Whether the pandemic has made your business growth or loss, your business needs to consider all its options. Such as making use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by the UK government allowing your business to furlough certain employees, using alternative ways to traditional in-house hiring to create more flexibility for your business to adjust promptly or perhaps using a flexible-staffing solution in place or arranging other skills you may need to bring on board. 

CIPD has created a workforce planning flowchart with HR bodies and legal teams to help you explore your business’ workforce planning options during this crisis. Read it here. If your business requires casual staffing to increase flexibility in your workforce planning, consider implementing SyftForce’s casual workforce management tool. Where you can organise your entire internal workforce and external agencies on one simple to use platform.

To learn more about SyftForce, request a demo here.  

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