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Staying One Move Ahead with Human Resource Planning

And how good resource planning can help your business grow

They say good help is hard to find, but that’s why businesses rely heavily on the human resources department. To hit daily goals while building teams for future growth, human resources needs to not only evaluate existing employee capabilities, but build a personnel plan for what’s next.

Without these evaluations, your business could end up with a talent or skill deficiency, making your team feel like a square peg for the round hole that is your goal.

Luckily, human resources offers the tools to match your teams’ capabilities to the tasks of today and tomorrow. It’s called human resource planning (HRP). It’s kind of like looking at the business as if it’s in a chess match. Employees represent chess pieces on one side of the board, while business goals are on the other. HRP looks at the board, ensuring the right pieces are in a position to win.

What is human resource planning, exactly?

HRP goes by a few names, such as workforce planning or manpower planning (but we don’t want to get into gender bias). Whatever you want to call it, HRP is a process that evaluates the talent pool inside your business and compares it to the skills needed to compete today and scale for tomorrow. This includes analyzing:

  • Total employees for surpluses or talent shortages
  • Effectiveness from individual contributors
  • In-house talent for promotions or grooming
  • Training opportunities
  • Age demographics by role and department to balance experience levels, retirements, etc.

Businesses need to continually evaluate team resources and output for tasks that hit short- and long-term targets. It’s tricky because we’re tricky. Compare HRP to manufacturing machinery, for example. From the time of purchase, managers know with fair accuracy the uptime and expected output over the lifetime of a machine before it goes to the scrap heap. People, though, we’re the worst. We get sick, retire, become parents, change careers, change companies, move across the world — you get the point. We also get promoted sometimes, which leaves a gap in the organizational chart in our wake.

So, how do businesses stay one step ahead?

The four steps of human resource planning

It’s not rocket science, but the process behind HRP is still vital to business continuity. It goes like this:

Analyze in-house talent

Just as a chess player has to understand the pieces on the board, it’s important to analyze your existing personnel. In this first step of HRP, you can assess workers for hard skills that lead to productivity and soft skills such as work ethic, culture fit, leadership, team fit, etc.).

Understanding what people can do and how they want to steer their careers helps the business understand talent gaps, training opportunities, hiring needs, etc.

Forecast skill and output needs

After you know what you have, it’s time to understand what you need from employees. You can look at this challenge from two perspectives: business goals and industry standards. No doubt your department heads have plans for the day, the month, the quarter, the year, and beyond.

But, there are also external factors to consider. Are there major shifts in trends in technology or customer needs? You’ll need to get a feel for the board and account for as many variables as possible in your HRP assessment.

Assess the gaps

Establishing what you have and what you need allows you to build a gap analysis that helps business leaders understand the situation. Hopefully, you could synthesize all the data, both quantitative and qualitative, into some documentation.

You can use performance scoring, trend analysis, and other methods to offer objective insights leading to a strong plan that covers near and short-term goals for teams across the organization.

Plan to fill the gaps

Will you train-up employees for the task ahead? Hire new talent to fill gaps? Maybe outsource if you’re growing fast and need plug-and-play expertise. There’s no single answer, of course. You’ll need to go through the process, follow the data, and work with team leaders to find the best solution.

Most of all, it’s important to remember that human resource planning is not a one-and-done thing. A plan gets department leaders on the same page, but you’ll need to reassess as the game rolls on and pieces move.

Importance of human resource planning

Some think that people are a company’s most important asset. So, getting HRP right sets you up for success in a few ways.

  • Recognizing in-house talent
    Who’s a pawn? Who’s a rook? Who’s a knight? Nurturing talent and offering them opportunities can save you lots of time and money compared to bringing on new hires.
  • Training needs
    Sometimes people need a little nudge. HRP might help identify a hard worker that’s just a little out of position.
  • Scalability - is your team poised to win today and tomorrow?
    Skills get stale. Department goals quadruple. Technology changes, well, everything. The gaps identified in HRP give you a fair assessment of how far you can stretch your resources.
  • Be prepared
    If a key team member hits the lottery tomorrow, are you screwed? By knowing where you’re thin in the organization, you can plan for those just-in-case moments. Hiring a fresh graduate today or cross-training your team could be a lifesaver tomorrow.

Staying in check with human resource planning

We don’t want to give the impression that companies are playing games with people’s livelihoods and career paths. Nobody wants to feel like a pawn, and lots of companies invest in corporate culture, skill-advancement training, team-bonding activities, and other things that give workers a sense of value and purpose while they’re at work.

But, the reality is that human resources needs to look at employees on micro and macro levels. Human resource planning is a part of that process, giving your business a fair assessment of in-house capabilities and bandwidth to hit company targets today and scale as your company grows. HRP also helps ensure that your people aren’t put in a position to fail and that hard-working, talented workers are recognized for their contributions.

If you’re looking to put tools behind an HRP project, a data-visualization tool helps organize your data and put it in visual models that put context into the numbers. Also, a platform like Causal has templates you can use to compare your financials with staffing plans. For example, if you’re a technology company, you can use a Causal template to assess team capacity versus output needs.

This is just a small example of the models you can build in Causal. Curious? Give our platform a try for free.

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