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Hold the Buzzwords! Real Talk About Workforce Planning

Posted by The Bean Team

03-Dec-2014 13:00:00

Yes, your technology has to be robust, cloud-based is in fact ideal and where would we be without strategy? These are truly more than just buzzwords crafted for HR tech hype, but we’ll save those for another article. This is more of a Workforce Planning 101. Let’s dodge all the extraneous jargon and get down to some real talk about workforce planning.




Go Ahead, Raise Your Hand

When everyone around you seems to be catching on, and you see a sea of nodding heads but you still haven’t had that “Aha” moment, it can be hard to raise your hand and ask for some guidance.

Put your hand down, we got this.

Workforce planning is a relatively new evolution in talent management, so there are still some different opinions on what workforce planning actually is. Some look at workforce planning as merely a headcount: How many people do we have vs. how many people will we need. That’s about as simple as it gets. On the other hand, the definition can get pretty in-depth, like this one from HR thought leader Dr. John Sullivan:

Workforce planning is an integrated and forward-looking process that is designed to predict (what, when, how much) will likely happen in talent management and then to provide action plans that will cause managers to act in the prescribed way. As a result of the planning process, managers will be able to avoid or mitigate people problems, take advantage of talent opportunities and to improve the ‘talent pipeline’, so that your organization will have the needed “people capabilities” required to meet your business goals and to build a competitive advantage over other firms.” 

broadbeantwitter-01Pretty solid right? Tweet at us @BroadbeanInc and tell us your thoughts.


At the core of all of this, workforce planning is the identification of current and future gaps in talent, skill and experience, and then the strategy behind filling in those gaps to keep the business on track, and out of any talent danger zones.


Got It! Fill in the Gaps… but How?

A workforce planning strategy can run the gamut from simplistic head count to having dozens of objectives. Here are the areas in workforce planning that we see:

  1. Making the largest business impacts
  2. Helping organizations stay ahead of the talent curve. Reaction mode is never where you want to be. 


Get out of the HR bubble

Find out where that ship of an organization is headed, how they plan to get here and what you can do to make sure the talent is ready. That can mean recruiting, hiring and training, but it could also mean a reduction in force. Forecasting is the only way you’ll know what your next move will be.

Leadership development and succession planning are vital in keeping forward momentum. When changing management, 37% of companies rate their effectiveness at below average. In a recent article, “Avoid Succession Panic in 4 Steps”, we gave you a very helpful rule of thumb. You should be succession planning for any role that can fill in this blank: What in the actual hell would we do if Fill In the Blank  left tomorrow? Don’t just plan and train for executive level roles; have a plan for all key leadership roles in the organization.


broadbeantwitter-01 37% of companies rate their effectiveness at below average in change management. 


I Don't Know How to Break This to You...

...but even your workforce innovation now needs a management process. It is widely agreed upon that innovation is the lifeblood of any organization (look at Blockbuster if you don’t believe it). That being said, innovation has to be strategic (sorry, the word “strategic” is completely necessary here). Innovation requires talent, resources and planning.

Retention strategies went flying out the window in masses during the recent US economic recession. It was all about staying afloat. Well, pick it up, dust it off and put that retention strategy to work. Key talent drives business and turnover are just plain expensive. That’s why 97% of over 1,000 CEOs cited “Access to and retention of key talent” as the number one competitive business advantage in sustaining long-term growth.

broadbeantwitter-01 Innovation is the lifeblood of any organization.



For the Record

Finally, (actually there’s a lot more, but this is a 101 post) there is the matter of getting your contingent workforce game together. Just last year in 2013, 40% of employers planned to hire temp workers while 80% planned to increase their flexible workforce. As this segment of the workforce continues to grow, employers must set up systems and processes to ensure the seamless management of the contingent talent lifecycle, which is very different from traditional employees.

While this article really only scratches the surface of workforce planning, we hope the Bean Team could shed some light on this new, and exciting talent management trend. Start looking at your business objectives in a different way – as a facilitator, rather than a reactor. For the record, we love buzzwords, but sometimes you just need a break.


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Topics: HR Technology , Workforce Planning