For most businesses, large or small, the task of identifying what work needs doing and who should do it is a continuous challenge! Workforce planning is the approach most businesses take to address this challenge.

It is rare that a business of any size operates for long without having to recruit or remove employees.

For example, consider why a business might need to recruit staff:

  • Business expansion due to
  • - Increasing sales of existing products
  • - Developing new products
  • - Entering new markets
  • Existing employees leave:
  • - To work with competitors or other local employers
  • - Due to factors such as retirement, sick leave, maternity leave
  • Business needs employees with new skills
  • Business is relocating – and not all of existing workforce want to move to new location

The world of work is also changing rapidly:

  • Increase in part-time working
  • Increased number of single-parent families
  • More women seeking work
  • Ageing population
  • Greater emphasis on flexible working hours
  • Technology allows employees to communicate more effectively whilst apart
  • People rarely stay in the same job for life

Businesses need to understand and respond to these changes if they are to recruit staff of the right standard – and keep them!

So what is workforce planning?

Workforce planning is about deciding how many and what types of workers are required

There are several steps involved in workforce planning:

  • The workforce plan establishes what vacancies exist
  • Managers produce a job description and job specification for each post

Job description

  • Detailed explanation of the roles and responsibilities of the post advertised
  • Most applicants will ask for this before applying for the job
  • Refers to the post available rather than the person

Job specification

  • Sets out the kind of qualifications, skills, experience and personal attributes a successful candidate should possess.
  • A vital tool in assessing the suitability of job applicants
  • Refers to the person rather than the post
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