Workforce Planning 101: Having the right staff at the right time

What is Workforce Planning and why is it important?

Let’s imagine I hold in my hand a magic wand.

Because you’re one of my favourites, I’m going to wave my magic wand…

And award your business every piece of work that you go for over the next 3 months…

It’s the sort of growth that you’ve been planning, scheming and dreaming up for years…

A quarter that positions your business to develop significantly (read: sets you up).

Now, what comes next?

After scrambling a last minute lunch with your significant other, popping a bottle and toasting to the good life…

Somewhere between paying the bill and walking back to your office…

A sinking feeling hits you:

You realise your team is no-where near equipped to handle this amount of work! 

This is where Workforce Planning comes in.

Otherwise known as:

Having the right people, with the right skills, at the right time.

Ok, so you may never hit a hot streak where you win every job over a 3-month period…

However if you’re like most of my clients, you’re still exposed to the natural ebbs and flows of a dynamic environment that a growing business operates in.

If you’re worried that you’ll have too many staff that you can’t afford during some months of the year…

Or that they’ll be MIA when you need them most for your peak periods…

This article is going to help you plan your people requirements and maximise your profits while operating in a fluctuating business environment.

Here are my 4 steps to people planning for growth:

Step 1: Learn from your history

Understand your key peaks and troughs by reflecting on and learning from the past.

Use the following exercises to help:

  • Review the times over the previous years that there have been excessive hours worked
  • Map out the flow of work prior and post busy periods
  • Review your workforce profile data (i.e. make up of casuals, PT, FT)
  • Check whether there were head count increases or decreases during key times in your history

Step 2: Analyse current operations

Understand your legislative, compliance and market parameters as well as the output of what each of your staff delivers (as well as the costs associated with your external team).

Particularly, who are your top performers and why they are so successful?

If you don’t already have a team, define what this would look like in terms of output.

Step 3: Look into the crystal ball

Define what you want your business to look like over the next 3 years at least.

Do this both from a financial model perspective and a strategy perspective.

Also consider what the market and your competitors will look like over the same period (this will help you identify what skill sets you may need to introduce).

Step 4: Take action by focusing on initiatives and strategies

Now that you are aware of some of the things that will impact your workforce, identify what you will do about it.

This may include:

  • Introducing new skill sets to the business
  • Looking at outsourcing or insourcing some functions
  • Looking at your succession planning requirements
  • Job re-design
  • Changes in budget forecasting
  • Recruitment or retention strategies (i.e. start recruitment early for peak periods)
  • Reviewing policies and procedures you have in place
  • Changing the mix of your workforce (i.e. introduce more casuals to provide greater flexibility OR increase your permanent base to build and lock in key team members)

The BespokeHR Health Check will help you take the first steps to understanding your workforce requirements: Download it here.

Have you completed it? Great, let’s keep moving…

Now that you have some context on your business, how do you determine what skills you need and how many people you require?

This is a more difficult question to answer. 

There are various ratios and models to help predict this (i.e. it used to be at minimum that an employee returns at least 2 times their salary package to sustain them in the business).

But this also needs to fit your personal budgeting requirements.

The key thing is to gain clarity on the costs and impact to revenue that each employee brings to the business. While also understanding what revenue you may be missing by not having the right skills in your business.

The general rule of thumb is to think about what your absolute quietest month would be and your minimum staff requirements to just open the doors. This is what your permanent or fixed base should be.

Now, do the opposite:

Think about the absolute peak trading period (or requirements subject to growth plans) and start looking at how you can be recruiting or introducing those skills sets as early as possible as either casuals, fixed-term contracts or external providers.

Are you feeling stuck, frustrated or overwhelmed with planning your growth?

I’m here to help.

Download the Business Health Check below, complete and share how you have found the process:

FREE: BespokeHR Business Health Check

Free worksheets to Review 2015 and Plan 2016

To celebrate the New Year, I’ve created this free set of worksheets to guide you through reviewing 2015 and aiming your sights for 2016.

Assess your performance and results from 2015 in the areas of Personal Goals, Business Goals, Your Team, KPIs and Compliance. The answers to these questions will help you develop your people plan and set up 2016 for success:

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Any questions?

If you have questions on this topic or any others, feel free to reach me by email or set up a free one-on-one consultation session, or drop me a comment below.

Thanks for sharing!