Workforce Planning

“Planning is like rain dancing…it has no effect on rainfall…but it makes the dancers feel better”

Despite the uncertainties about whether there will be a shortage of workers in the near future and its magnitude, it is not wise to assume the organization will be able to deal with whatever happens. There have been shortages in some occupations for decades, often lasting as long as three to five years per crisis (the time it takes to replenish the supply). There will always be shortages for some organizations and for some critical skills, at least for short periods. The biggest mistake is not trying to plan for the future and waiting until the crisis is unarguably afoot.

Scenario planning should be applied to workforce planning. By looking into the future and formulating a “worst case,” a “best case” and a “most likely” scenario, an organization can develop strategies that are reasonably robust when one of the possible futures becomes the present. This type of planning equips the organization to respond more quickly and appropriately because it has thought about its responses to a range of realities and has implemented processes and programs to help it deal with what occurs.
workforce planning

Had there been more planning for the “Y2K” event there would have been fewer bad decisions made. There is a principle that seems to always hold true: in human resource planning if you run out of time all your best options are no longer available. This is particularly true for workforce planning since there are often no quick solutions to a labor shortage. Anticipating the future that is likely to materialize enables human resource planners to broaden their range of options. Some believe planning is useless when the environment is “permanent whitewater.” Another school of thought believes planning is still critical, but that the type of planning done needs to change.

A final requirement is that workforce planning must be a continuous process. Today may not look much like what you projected it to be five years ago, given the rate of change. Therefore, each 1, 2 and 5-year projection must be refined as things change. Workforce planning is a daily part of effective human resource management.

An excerpt from:“Workforce Planning: Key To Sustaining Effectiveness” by Robert J. Greene, PhD
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