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How Strategic Workforce Planning Builds Strong Company Culture

Beth Thornton

February 13, 2020

Currently, the Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate at 3.6% — the lowest it’s been since 1969. For college graduates, that number is even lower at an impressive 2.1%. In a competitive labor market where candidates are in the drivers seat, organizations need a strategic plan in place to keep them from losing their employees to better offers. In such a prosperous marketplace, workers won’t hesitate to leave their jobs if they believe they can find a place or role that aligns more closely to their values. In markets like the one we’re in now, it’s on the employer to build a workplace environment where employees are engaged, empowered, and aren’t looking for better options elsewhere.

To stay ahead of the competition, organizations are placing more focus than ever on enhancing their company culture by developing the employees they already have and building relationships between people. A kitchen full of snacks and a good benefits package isn’t enough to build real organizational culture. Employees want to know that they’re making a real contribution, and they want to see that they are valued by and provide value to their company. This kind of support and feedback takes planning and structure. To accomplish it, it requires a solid workforce planning strategy.

What’s the link between #StrategicWorkforcePlanning and #EmployeeEngagement? @InspireSoftware has the answer:Tweet This!

By implementing strategic workforce planning, organizations can build out a comprehensive talent management process that supports both HR objectives and employees’ needs during hiring, training, and talent development. According to Datis’s 2018 State of the Workforce Study, the majority of businesses expect to see significant growth within their teams, but only 34% of them have an updated plan for employee engagement.

What Exactly is Strategic Workforce Planning?

Every organization has their own issues, priorities, and needs, so strategic workforce planning is a powerful tool to ensure your hiring, training, and employee experience initiatives are interwoven and aligned with greater business objectives. Plus, strategic workforce planning is a process that can be used to improve internal HR performance and company culture.

Strategic workforce planning helps HR leaders by creating a roadmap for key strategic elements like:

  • Aligning hiring goals with long-term needs
  • Assigning implementation and follow-through responsibilities to the right leadership — from the executives setting the strategy to choosing your best managers to guide the process
  • Training and developing teams and individuals
  • Increasing retention and reducing rapid staff turnover
  • Building a company culture that is embodied by individuals and flows among teams
  • Creating employee engagement champions at every role in the business
  • Identifying and evaluating deficiencies and their potential solutions to streamline employee improvement
  • Building productive, high-performing teams

Without proper strategic workforce planning, companies have a more difficult time achieving a more holistic vision of their overall business objectives; one that uses training and personnel strategies as a foundation to support organizational productivity.

More than just job training and a positive work environment, truly strong strategic workforce planning also accounts for creating supportive management teams, identifying opportunities for growth, and building trust in leadership. When you hit all the key points, employees feel empowered, supported, upwardly mobile, and that they’re working towards a common purpose they can buy into. This kind of workforce builds an impenetrable company culture that works efficiently and effectively in pursuit of company goals.

Preparing Your Strategic Workforce Plan

The first step is prioritization — what’s most important in your workforce needs? How do your needs fit into your company culture and core values? The approach should be systematic. Choose a model that helps you organize and align your needs with a carefully researched methodology. Before you begin, make sure you’re prepared to act on results as your plan plays out.

You may have a clear idea where the holes are and what your hiring needs are, but how well do you understand what's happening in the teams you already have? Get to know your employees. Where are your future managers and leaders? Who is looking for an opportunity to grow? Don’t just think about the people you don’t have yet, but also what you have within the talent that’s there now, and where their potential lies.

Consider, too, how your staffing needs might adapt in the future. You know what you need now, you what you’ve needed historically, but how do you anticipate strategic workforce planning to impact your hiring forecast and the way you staff your organization down the road? The last thing you want is to create the perfect plan, only to discover you’ve misallocated time and resources because you didn’t account for the way your processes and needs would change.

Where do organizational goals, performance management, and talent strategy converge? @InspireSoftware says it’s in #StrategicWorkforcePlanning:Tweet This!

Additionally, you’ll need to consider the tools you need to monitor progress. Merely implementing strategic workforce planning is not enough in and of itself to shape your company culture if you aren’t doing anything to analyze how it’s being received. Coupling strategic workforce planning with one-to-one conversations will provide you with actionable insights to gauge how employees are responding, and you’ll be able to pivot in real-time to accommodate any issues you come up against along the way. In doing so, you give your employees the opportunity to be part of the process. When they see leadership implement changes based on their individual feedback, they’ll see that their input really matters and will continue to contribute.

People and Strategic Workforce Planning

How do you get the best feedback from your employees? Setting individual goals that align to an employee’s learning objectives while fulfilling workforce needs ensures that individual contributions and regular performance conversations all serve your workforce planning. Goal alignment and one-to-one conversations facilitate a clear communication channel where employees can share their own bright ideas, submit an opportunity for learning and development, and keep a direct feedback loop open. By including individuals and teams as an integral part of strategic workforce planning, the process of hiring, developing, and promotion becomes a common goal.

Strategic workforce planning is a key aspect of maintaining your cultural integrity, and with the right plan, your culture will flourish more than ever. We’d love to show you more about the ways Inspire facilitates conversation, personal and professional growth, and identifies hiring and development needs within your workforce and helps you plan for your future talent needs.