Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Criteria, a leading provider of pre-employment testing services. To learn more about how pre-employment testing can benefit your talent acquisition strategy, check out Criteria’s “Definitive Guide to Pre-Employment Testing”. I’ve found it to be a comprehensive guide that I keep handy all the time. Enjoy!)
With all the talk about today’s labor market, organizations cannot afford to waste time and resources in their recruiting efforts. Well, honestly, organizations can never afford to waste time and resources, but you get my point. When organizations are competing for the best talent, time is of the essence. One way that organizations can save time and resources in their recruiting is by having a workforce and staffing plan.
What’s a Workforce and Staffing plan?
While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, a workforce plan and a staffing plan are different. A workforce plan is a long-term look at the organization’s talent needs. Think 2-5 years out. It typically aligns with the organization’s strategic plan.
Let’s say we’re a retail establishment and we want to expand into e-commerce. Over a span of time, we will have to start hiring people with e-commerce expertise to help us build a strategy. Then, we will need to start hiring sales reps with e-commerce experience. Right now, it’s possible we have employees who could learn about e-commerce. Instead of hiring from the outside, we might want to develop the e-commerce team from within. They already know our products. A workforce plan helps us map out that long term strategy for “buying and/or building” the best talent.
A staffing plan is a shorter-term plan that helps organizations with their more immediate hiring needs. Think 12-18 months out. Many organizations prepare a staffing plan in conjunction with their annual budget because a staffing plan might have a better view of current hiring trends.
Using the same retail example as above, maybe the organization doesn’t plan to start working on their e-commerce initiative until next year. The staffing plan helps the organization stay focused on building the talent pipeline they need right now, while not losing sight of the company’s long-term strategy. It’s possible that the workforce plan can be used to assist in the development of the staffing plan.
How to Develop a Workforce and Staffing Plan
Organizations should consider having both a staffing plan and a workforce plan. Here’s how to develop them.
Step 1. Look at the organization’s current strategic plan. The plan should provide some insight into what the organization wants to accomplish and the timeframe that they want it to happen. Specifically look for the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that employees will need to have in the future.
Step 2. Review the KSAs that employees currently have. Organizations might have employees who are being underutilized, meaning they have talents not being used in their current role. Now is the time to understand what those talents are. This information is often readily available in the organization’s human resources information system (HRIS) or learning management system (LMS). If you don’t have those technologies or you’re only developing a plan for one department/division (and yes, you can do that), maybe go old school and do an Excel spreadsheet. It will get the job done.
Step 3. Evaluate the skills gap. This is the step where the organization needs to look at the skills they have and the ones they will need in the future. Conduct a traditional gap analysis. The gap will help the organization do two things: A) determine the KSAs that need to be a priority and B) create a plan to bridge the gap – either through hiring or training or both.
Step 4. Make a workforce plan and a staffing plan. The plans do not need to be fancy. They do need to be functional. You can develop the plans in a SMART format (and regular readers of HR Bartender know how I love a good SMART plan!)
Step 5. Use and review the plan on a regular basis. I will admit that it seems weird to have a step that says “use the plan” but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of actually working the plan. It’s essential to make sure that the assumptions used to create the plan still exist. For example, the labor market is very competitive right now. One external change could have a big impact on your staffing plan. Also, the organization must consider flow – meaning the number of employees who are promoted, transferred, and leave the company.
Make the Plan. Work the Plan.
This brings us back to the opening of this article – organizations cannot afford to waste time and resources. Having a plan to get the talent you need does that. But plans only work if you use them.
Having a documented strategy that identifies the talent that the organization needs is a big part of helping the organization accomplish its goals. Because you can’t do it without people. However, there’s another component in finding the best talent. And that’s having a hiring process that works. And works well. So, to be successful in talent acquisition, part one is having a good idea (and a plan) of who you need to find. Then part two is having a good hiring process to get them onboard.
P.S. If you want to learn more about “Hiring in a Talent Shortage: How to Identify Blocks and Create Solutions”, take a few moments to listen to this webinar with me and the Criteria team. It’s a great conversation that you’ll not want to miss!17