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Workforce Planning Strategies in an Uncertain Economy 

In this current economic climate, where so many industries face different challenges, a solid workforce plan is critical. Implementing solid workforce planning strategies can ensure that your business has the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

So what is workforce planning, and how can it be optimized so your business stays ahead of the curve?

The Basics of Workforce Planning

Workforce planning involves carefully looking at potential gaps in today’s workforce and working to supplement those needs with careful hiring and deploying talent.

Ensuring your workforce aligns with general capital needs nationally or even globally can guarantee that your business is covering any gaps in your workforce requirements. It can also ensure that your strategic and financial plans are followed.

The US Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, has a workforce planning model that perfectly explains the general flow of workforce planning and how it should be implemented.

Step 1: Set Strategic Direction

Look at your business’s plans for the future, including any performance goals or objectives.

Step 2: Analyze Your Workforce

Identify if there are any gaps in the current workforce and estimate what resources will be needed to resolve those gaps.

Step 3: Develop an Action Plan

Make a plan to resolve those workforce gaps by working with your HR team. This can involve recruiting, training, reskilling, investing in contracted workers or new technology, or even departmental restructuring.

Step 4: Implement Your Action Plan

Follow through with your action plan. Emphasize communication to ensure that roles are settled without issue.

Step 5: Monitor, Evaluate, and Revise

Keep an eye on changes made to the action plan, see if any improvements can be made, and make adjustments as necessary.

Shifting From Planning to Optimizing

So, we have a basic structure for workforce planning. But how can we make it even better?

To optimize your action and workforce planning strategies, look at your strategy from a project management perspective. Your employees provide specialized skills and expertise to complete projects and goals. A surefire way to optimize your workforce is to streamline that flow to make sure that the best employees are working on the goals they’re best at.

This means that you need to have a proactive human resources team, so they can focus on adjusting your workforce flexibly based on the needs of your business and the market. Flexibility is vital here — changes should be made dynamically, in stages, and agile enough to allow pivoting or backtracking if necessary.

Optimizing your workforce also means a heavy emphasis on collaboration and communication. When creating your action plan, you should keep all of your departments in mind and make sure they’re all dialed into any changes that might be being made.

For example, if you’re restructuring a department to optimize employee talent better, ensure the team can still meet its goals and objectives with the new team.

Even more critical is analyzing the changes you’ve made, so you can ensure that your actions were worth it. If a team cannot meet project goals, or you’re seeing a negative impact on your bottom line, it might be time to start over at the beginning of the process.