Shaping Up Your Workforce

Issue 87

All businesses need a strategy. A goal to work towards, and a plan of how you will get there and what resources you will need to deliver that plan effectively.

Your employees are your most important resource, so having a strong supporting workforce plan can make or break your business goals. A workforce strategy and plan will identify and address any changes which need to be made to your current workforce so that you can deliver your short, medium and long-term business plans. It will also highlight any current problems or challenges which need to be addressed. It should answer: Do you have the right staff, in the right place at the right time to deliver your business goals?

What do we mean by the “right” staff? Firstly, look at your current employees. You need to determine if they have the right skills set and the right attitude to deliver your future business goals, and also determine whether you have the right capacity.

Skills Gaps

If you identify that there is a skills gap, you can put in place a training plan accordingly or look to recruit candidates with the right skills set. Attitude and behaviour are equally, if not more important. I wrote a recent article on the importance of trust when managing performance. You can have a high performing employee who always excels when it comes to sales targets, but you struggle to trust them and they have a disruptive effect at work. The best way I find to change behaviours to the desired ones is to implement a robust performance management framework, which links your corporate values with key desired behaviours, for example, customer service excellence, taking responsibility or excellent team working. You should use this for appraisals, tackling poor performance and for career progression.

Recruitment and Retention Issues

If you are carrying a number of vacancies and you are struggling to recruit, join the club! This is a huge issue for most employers right now. There are ways in which you can improve though, but first you need to identify where the problem lies. Are you offering a competitive benefits package? You can identify this by undertaking exit interviews to see if former employees are leaving for better paid jobs or better benefits elsewhere and by doing a salary benchmarking exercise to determine what other employers are offering for similar roles. You may simply need to communicate better in job adverts what a great employer you are and why the role is such an exciting opportunity. Rewording the job advert can work wonders.

Identifying New or Changing Roles

Many employers make the mistake of recruiting a direct replacement without taking the opportunity to review whether the newly vacant role is what is needed now, and into the future.

All jobs should be underpinned by a job profile, incorporating a description of key duties and responsibilities, a person specification and key behaviours. A resignation gives you a prime opportunity to discuss with the impending leaver what the role entails. It will also provide you with the opportunity to redesign the role completely to fit the future challenges ahead.

Fit for the Future

Analysing employee demographics is a must when it comes to workforce planning. If you have an aging workforce with little “new blood”, you may have a problem when employees with key skills leave or retire. By identifying employees who you would struggle to replace internally or externally will help you with your succession planning. Once more, by utilising an effective performance management framework, you will be able to more easily identify those employees who are ready to progress with a bit more training and support.

Leadership Development

Having an effective, engaged and productive employees relies upon having strong leadership and supportive management. Many businesses will find that employees have been promoted into management positions because of their technical expertise and not their leadership capabilities. If this is the case, the first step to implementing an effective workforce plan will be to ensure that managers are upskilled in people management skills and coached to become effective leaders, capable of supporting and mentoring their teams in their own development and providing them support to thrive.

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