Workforce Planning for Business Success

The current worker shortage has caused havoc for many businesses.  Work is being declined, and that is both stopping business growth and causing revenues to decrease.  So what is a business to do?  The answer, not without concerted effort and skill, is simple just the same.  Workforce Planning for your business can in fact not only address the shortage but also make your company more productive and profitable.

The bigger challenge is having the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) within your organization to go through the process.  Workforce Planning can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be.  In fact, the OPM has a simple 5-step process you can follow that can get you started.  What does that OPM 5-step process look like?

What is the OPM 5-Step Workforce Planning Process?

Set Strategic Direction – Your business has to have a strategic plan that it is using.  Your workforce plan must be linked, or aligned, with that strategic plan.  You must understand what the goals and objectives are and understand the Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Experience, and Abilities (KSAEB) necessary to execute that plan.

Analyze the workforce – Known by many names this is simply an inventory of your current KSAEB’s compared to those needed to execute the plan.  The difference, or gap, becomes part of your focus.  Not only does this address the current state of your KSAEB’s, but it must also consider future ones that you identify for business growth.

Develop Action Plan – Here you identify the strategies needed to fill the gaps you discovered in your analysis of the workforce.  Many different strategies exist to do this, recruiting, training and development, restructuring jobs or the organization, outsourcing, succession planning, tools such as technology and so forth.

Execute the Action Plan – It is amazing how many organizations plan but never execute the plan.  Research has shown that most organizations never fully execute their strategic plans and those that do fail at a rate approaching 90% due to poor execution.  Roles and accountabilities must be well defined.  So must measurement; remember, you cannot manage what you do not measure.

“A strategy, even a great one, doesn’t implement itself.”  Jerome De Flander

Monitor, Evaluate, and Revise Your Plan – The measurements you defined earlier are important to this step.  Those measurements tell you what is working well and what needs more emphasis or perhaps even corrected.  Further, other changes may have occurred that require you to modify your plan.

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Winston Churchill

Of course, there is a great deal of effort and KSA’s needed to develop a workforce plan even when using those five simple steps.  Those appropriately skilled in developing and executing good workforce plans have many tools at their disposal.  Some of these are:

Forecasting – being able to determine future needs based on labor costs, internal supply, market supply of new labor, the businesses growth rate plans and so forth all play a major role in determining future needs

Succession Planning – all too often succession planning, if done at all, focuses strictly on key executives and leaders.  Developing succession plans further down the organization chart, sometimes including individual frontline contributors, is necessary.

Leadership Development – Everything depends on leadership.  Good leaders get things done, and they get them done not by pushing people to do them. But by inspiring people to do them.  Passion is contagious, and good leaders communicate passion.

Retention – understanding turnover, while important, isn’t a stand-alone measurement.  Not only do you have to know why but you also have to know who.  Focusing on retaining the best, developing those who can rise to be the best and encourage low performers to go elsewhere is an appropriate focus on retention.  Also, knowing which of your better performers are in danger of becoming a turnover statistic helps you focus on keeping them.

Performance Management – While the current trend is to dismiss performance management because of a myriad of emotional issues, performance remains important.  Whether you see this as an individual, team, department or organizational issue will tell you how you must manage performance.  Perhaps even considering all of them.

Metrics – You have to select the right measurements.  What you measure must be aligned with the desired outcomes of your strategic business plan.  If all you are doing is measuring time to hire, cost of hire and turnover, you’ll most likely improve those numbers.  How do they impact on your business strategy execution and desired outcomes?

Good workforce planning identifies and analyzes what your business needs when considering KSAEB’s. It helps your business achieve its strategic business goals while doing so with the right people, at the right place, at the right time with the right KSAEB’s.


You can see the OPM 5 step process here.