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5 Good Reasons You Need Good Workforce Planning and What You Can Do to Get Started Now

I confess. I like looking at maps - US maps… world maps… topographical maps… road maps…it makes little difference.

So when I began running into road construction on several of my preferred routes this past summer, I quickly hauled out a map to chart new courses.

Afterwards, I needed only visualize the new routes I marked on the map, and I found my way to where I wanted to go with no trouble whatsoever. To avoid the construction pitfalls, I just had to plan.

Think about that in terms of the workforce in your business. To get where you want to go with your business, you need a good plan for your workforce: a map for where you want to go and how your workforce will help you get there.

Why is it, then, that so many HR departments have no formal strategy when it comes to their workforce? And why — according to Dr. John Sullivan, well-known HR expert, writer, speaker and professor of management at San Francisco State University — do more than 90 percent have no independent planning and forecasting function at all?

After all, everyone knows the business cycle has ups and downs. Every few years we vacillate from growth period to recessionary period to growth period…

Surprisingly, even though these phases are predictable and HR has been through them time and again, many HR managers tend to suffer through the phases with no strategy or plan. They even seem genuinely surprised when the next phase hits.

As a result, they hire in a panic and layoff in a panic, damaging employee morale, not to mention negatively affecting the bottom line.

But — and here’s the key point — if only they would plan, they would have the right number of people with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

We call this workforce planning.

Like following a road map, workforce planning begins with your destination — where you want to go as identified in your organization’s strategic plan.  The fact is the workforce plan is the logical next step to your organization’s strategic plan as it identifies the human resource needs and strategies required to achieve your strategic goals.

Do you absolutely need workforce planning?
You’ll have to answer this question for yourself, but I suggest you might serve yourself better by asking this: Can I compete without it?

There’s nothing like workforce planning to help you look to the future. That’s why it works. It requires you to plan and consider all eventualities.

Good workforce planning will help you:

  • Eliminate surprises and reduce the stress that accompanies business cycle changes.
  • Smooth out business cycles by developing processes that adjust your talent inventory to work effectively during good times or lean times.
  • Identify problems early, before talent “fires” get out of hand.
  • Prevent problems in the first place lowering turnover rates and labor costs, and reducing layoffs.
  • Take advantage of opportunities that you miss if you’re mired in fighting fires.
  • Build your image, brand and credibility internally and externally.

How do you do it?
Workforce planning can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

There is no standard format or formula. Some workforce plans have many components; some simply have a senior management succession plan. Most, however, include these areas:

  • industry trends
  • company growth and revenue
  • labor supply and cost estimates
  • succession planning
  • leadership development
  • recruiting
  • retention
  • redeployment
  • performance management
  • potential retirements
  • training and internal development
  • identifying metrics that determine workforce planning effectiveness

If you need assistance with your workforce plan, you can look at the Executive’s Guide to Strategic Workforce Planning from Profiles International. The guide elaborates on the following six steps, which help businesses get the right people in the right jobs to achieve success:

  • Establish where your business is going
  • Understand where the labor market is going
  • Understand your future talent demands 
  • Assess your current talent inventory
  • Identify your talent gaps and strategies to close them
  • Implement your strategies

You can access the guide here:

Meanwhile, here are some do-now questions you can ask yourself to jump-start your workforce planning for 2016. These questions will help ensure that you focus on the appropriate work functions in your plan:

  • Which work functions will remain unchanged?
  • Which work functions may be discontinued?
  • What potential new work functions are we planning?
  • Will changes in our strategic plan result in a work increase or decease in any function?
  • How might existing services or processes be enhanced or changed? What effect will these changes have on work and human resource needs?
  • Will any functions be consolidated, simplified, or made more complex?
  • Will we redesign any divisions, departments or jobs?
  • How does work currently flow into each department? Will this change?
  • What new products or services will we offer?
  • What technology changes will we make? Will we introduce any new technologies? What are they?
  • Do we need or are we planning any reorganizations?
  • Are we planning changes to our physical operation, e.g. opening a new plant or warehouse, opening new offices, relocating offices, or closing existing plants or offices?
  • How soon will we need these changes?
  • What is driving the change?

If you answer these questions carefully and accurately, you’ll end up with an assessment of your staffing and competencies, which you can use as a basis in establishing your organization’s workforce requirements.

One of my clients pointed out recently that the real reason for doing workforce planning is economics.


If done well, workforce planning will increase productivity, cut labor costs and dramatically cut time-to-market for you because you’ll have the information you need to anticipate the type, number and quality of talent you need to execute your business strategy.

The only question is whether you will do it.

Your Solution Toolbox: Seven Tools for Workforce Planning

When we talk about workforce planning, we always encourage you to do it because it helps you “put the right people in the right numbers in the right jobs to achieve your business success.”

But how do you put the right people in the right jobs?

Profiles International has assessment tools to help you identify those folks. We also have tools that will help you develop top talent and retain high-potential employees. And finally, we have tools that will help maintain healthy relationships between your managers and their employees.

Some examples:
ProfileXT® — You'll find a variety of uses for ProfileXT®: coaching, training, promotion, managing and succession planning. It offers up-to-date technology to help place the right people in the right jobs by allowing managers to see the total person including his or her reasoning style, occupational interests and behavioral traits. ProfileXT's Coaching Report focuses on employee development reducing turnover and increasing productivity.

Profiles’ Workforce Compatibility™ measures important skills and provides understanding of them. It helps define relationships between employees and managers in areas of self-assurance, self-reliance, conformity, optimism, decisiveness, objectivity and approach to learning. It helps managers and employees communicate better, spot conflicts before they occur, and successfully resolve problems.

Profiles’ Performance Indicator — If you need to smooth out workflow, Profiles’ Performance Indicator can help get you beyond disagreement to focus on real work. It will help you understand different people and how to motivate each employee successfully.

Profiles’ Team Analysis, compiled from data collected through Profiles’ Performance Indicator™, makes team building challenging and rewarding. This system highlights the attributes of each team member, reveals group strengths and alerts the leader to potential problems helping to eliminate conflict, build cooperation, improve communication and assure that the team achieves desired results.

Profile XT® Sales — Lay a foundation for a high-performance sales team. Profile XT® Sales will help you select, train and coach superior salespeople.

Checkpoint 360 — This tool gives managers the opportunity to see evaluations of their job performance from everyone including immediate supervisors, peers and direct reports. This assessment can fortify perceptions about strengths and offer insight into areas needing improvement.

Checkpoint Skillbuilder Series — This system helps good employees get better and the best stay at the top by emphasizing key characteristics: listening, processing information, effective communication, relationship building, thinking creatively, helping teams work together and much more.
 See these Profiles International’s assessment tools for yourself. Call us today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to

HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We’ll help you learn how to:
 • understand your workers’ strengths, weaknesses and interests
 • match people to job demands
 • increase employee performance throughout your organization

Let's Talk! We offer a no-obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures and practices. This may help determine what's missing in your current programs. Again, call 952-322-3330 or send an email to