Workforce Planning: Proactive Planning Saves Money and Increases Productivity

Some interesting trends are emerging from the Northwest HR Best Practice survey we are conducting. For one, we are seeing organizations who take a proactive approach to workforce planning to increase employee retention and minimize long-term recruiting expenditures. We also found that companies who have a dynamic plan where employees contribute to multiple department efforts are reaping the benefits. Here is a snapshot of how to create a plan that maximizes your workforce:

  • Review your business plan and identify the skill sets most critical to your company’s long-term success.
  • Prioritize skill sets and create a “priority list A” that aligns with meeting all of your long-term business objectives and a more conservative “priority list B” that meets only those most critical.
  • Identify any marketplace trends that might result in skill set availability shortfalls.
  • Create at least two cross-training initiatives for 2010 based on critical skill sets. Here are a couple ideas:
    • Identify skill experts and needed skill recipients in your organization. Have the recipient shadow the expert for a half day a month. Give the recipient some time to practice the learned skills between trainings. Fifteen minutes a day to practice one skill may be enough repetition for full comprehension. Be sure to give the expert a lot of recognition and include them in the planning process to diminish any fears of job threat.
    • Send one high performing employee to an outside training seminar to acquire a needed skill. Task this employee with teaching a group of employees what they learned upon his or her return and provide time to practice.

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"My professional passion stems from a fascination with how the individual needs of employees, managers, and the business converge to produce an outcome. I’m driven by a desire to help leaders and employees find the balance between competing needs so they can work together to address the challenges they face."