The Three Steps to Successful Workforce Planning

Successful Workforce Planning is on every company’s agenda. Companies are scrambling to make last-minute changes to their office reopening plans due to the Delta variant. But this scenario of frequently changing plans is not just due to Covid – and will continue well into the future. 

Organizations need to recognize that what works today will likely not work six months down the road in today’s increasingly unpredictable world. So, HR teams must take a much more strategic approach to their workforce planning, asking themselves key questions, such as:

  • How do we create a workforce plan that will successfully evolve with our business, both now and in the future?
  • How do we support our employees working remotely on an ongoing basis (e.g., a hybrid model) while still meeting our operational goals? 
  • How can we expand our hiring scope to bigger, more distributed pools of talent? 


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Here are three key steps to help HR professionals address these questions and create a successful workforce plan:

Take an Agile Approach for Successful Workforce Planning

Organizations need to embrace a more proactive, flexible approach to workforce planning in collaboration with the teams responsible for People and Places decisions. To do this, they will want to adopt a more ‘agile’ mindset that enables the HR team to create a strategic plan that is continuously evolving, delivering the best results for the business, both now and in the future.

Agility is vital as HR professionals work to attract and retain employees – which is just one example of where the ‘old’ way of doing things (e.g., creating a static, annual plan) no longer fits today’s workforce models. Agile processes are often used in the software industry to streamline product development. Instead of improving software annually, updates are made continuously throughout the year, enabling companies to better match the ever-changing needs of their customers and their markets.

Several other industry sectors have adopted this agile approach, as it helps improve collaboration, increase efficiencies, and create happier teams. Likewise, workforce plans are a great candidate for an agile model, which is critical to unlocking a strategic, more continuous approach to recruiting and retaining talent.

Embrace Hybrid Work Models

A critical return-to-work challenge facing most HR leaders today is how to create a hybrid work model that will appeal to employees while still supporting the company’s operational goals. The situation isn’t simply a matter of deciding who does or doesn’t get to work from home. HR professionals that consider hybrid work solely through the lens of ‘remote vs. on-site’ need to take a strategic, bigger-picture view of how hybrid work can improve productivity, collaboration, and employee wellness and morale, among other things.

The key to success is enabling flexibility while maintaining organization. As hybrid work models allow employees to spend less time at “headquarters,” HR decision-makers may want to consider implementing alternative, geographically distributed workplace options, which has the added benefit of broadening their talent pool. For example, a growing number of companies now use a “hub and spoke” model, which offers a central “hub” location for important meetings and events, and a network of smaller workspaces or “spokes” closer to where employees live that minimizes their commute time.

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However, HR teams will need to pivot their recruiting efforts appropriately – without disrupting the candidate pipeline. The good news is that HR teams today have a myriad of tools and technologies to enable the strategic decision-making, collaboration, transparency, and operational efficiency required to create a successful hybrid work plan.

Leverage the Latest Technologies

Technology continues to transform how we work in every organization and across every industry. New software platforms are modernizing markets from financial equity and freight shipping to insurance and banking. As HR teams expand their hiring scope to bigger, more distributed talent pools, it’s time for them to leverage these solutions to help support and drive their organizational growth.

Today’s software-based workforce and workplace planning tools can enable better collaboration, with everyone working together on complex decisions outside their respective silos. They offer the teams responsible for People and Places decisions easy access to the most up-to-date market data and allow for multiple scenario planning capabilities while automating workflows that ensure efficient, accurate modeling. In addition, as more companies consider geographically distributed teams and offices, these tools make it easier to analyze several geographic locations and workforce conditions, e.g., co-working spaces, sub-leases, etc.

With more strategic and less tactical ‘return to work’ planning – enabled by agile processes, flexible workforce models, and the latest tools and technologies – companies will be better positioned to weather the ongoing storms over the long term, can avoid constant changes in direction, and can create a workplace that attracts rather than loses excellent talent.

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