Here’s Why You Need A Workforce Plan Today…

“Why should we do a detailed workforce plan right now — couldn’t it wait a year or so?”

I was asked this question this morning by a Global People Manager at an extremely successful company with an aggressive growth plan.

In fairness to him, it’s unlikely he saw my ‘If not now, when?’ tattoo during our meeting. Which would have been a key indication that I’m a big believer in getting workforce strategy sorted as early as possible.

(I know what you’re thinking, and no — I didn’t get a workforce planning mantra tattooed on my arm. I’m not that obsessed. “If not now, when?” is my general life philosophy, thanks very much. But it does happen to apply very nicely to this situation.)

It doesn’t matter what size you are, if you have big growth plans, the best time to start your workforce strategy is yesterday. The second best time is today.

Here’s what you risk by not building a workforce plan today…

In today’s talent-based economy your workforce is arguably your most important tangible asset. If this asset is not carefully planned, measured and optimized it will limit your ability to execute your business strategy.

Having a robust strategic workforce plan enables your business to be more proactive and less reactive.

It allows you to forecast the workforce you’ll need to meet your future revenue goals. Which means you avoid panic hiring or — worse still — over-hiring in the wrong areas.

Even if you only have five employees, if you have revenue growth plans and a clear business strategy, it makes sense to invest the time right now in workforce planning. By embracing workforce planning you will improve the probability of success for your business strategy.

When times are good the extra revenue does a great job of hiding your workforce challenges and inefficiencies. But don’t let this fool you into thinking workforce planning is not an immediate priority. If you wait, at some point — it might be in six months, it might be in six years — you’ll be faced with solving a host of expensive problems.

Look, it’s not rocket science — if you overspend on hiring, at some stage something will give. Headcount reductions, hiring freezes, travel restrictions or worse.

And don’t even get me started on the impact these can have on your company culture and employer brand; you can read more about that in this post by Kirsti Grant of Populate.

…and here’s what you gain

Whether you’re looking to optimise current costs or maximise spend for growth, a workforce plan allows you to do this.

Want to stay ahead of competitors? Get the right products or features out to your customers before they need them? By having a clear line of sight into your total spend, and therefore what you have available to spend on your workforce, you put your organisation in a position to outpace your peers. You avoid falling behind your competitors but leaving money on the table, or overspending and putting your business growth goals at risk.

Once you have a workforce plan you can mobilize the resources you need to support your people to be successful. You can effectively plan for training, IT equipment, real estate, or number of coffees and donuts needed for Monday morning. Which means even more efficient management of your workforce costs. The benefit of doing that now? No wasted money.

So why dive into workforce planning today, instead of in a year or so? Because the risk to your bottom line, business strategy and company culture is too great if you don’t.

If not now, when?

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