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Workforce planning

How to get the right talent in by planning for your workforce needs. By Alyson Pellowe

Your company can be riding on the crest of a wave: successful projects on the boil and a healthy list of future contracts. But if you do not have a similarly strong pool of future employees on the books you could find standards dropping, costs rising and your supply of new people drying up.

As your company grows it should be seamlessly recruiting people that improve your service offering.

What you are aiming for

Workforce planning at its best is about understanding what your business is aiming to achieve and creating a people plan aligned to that goal.

This will ensure you get the right talent through the door at the right time and price.

We are not talking reams of paperwork here, just a simple spreadsheet incorporating each division of the business, a headcount and expected costs Đ set to a one to three-year plan.

As a project-based industry, often with frequent staff turnover, construction can really benefit from workforce planning. So get proactive.

A big benefit of workforce planning is that the human resources department becomes actively involved in company strategy.

HR managers should talk with directors and other senior staff to find out about future projects, future recruitment requirements and any cuts that may be in the mix.

By keeping a dialogue open, your workforce plan becomes a constantly evolving business tool that will improve recruitment immeasurably.

But do not forget, it needs to be reviewed every three to six months and, most significantly, it has to be aligned to the core business goals.

It is all too easy to fall into a reactionary approach to recruitment if you do not have the right system in place.

But long-term planning for your future workforce can reduce this problem. It will have noticeable benefits, not least with the dealings with your recruitment agency.

If you can approach an agency with a schedule of work for the next one or two years and a comprehensive outline of the type of skills needed, you have a substantial negotiating tool with which to cut a more agreeable deal.

Promoting prospects

I believe the most interesting part of implementing a workforce plan is that you will be able to look at your current workforce and pinpoint people suitable for promotion.

With a properly aligned workforce plan you will be able to look at your schedule of projects over the next few years and be in a great position to nurture your existing talent. This obviously has a positive impact.

Some of my clients think this is a waste of time, but if you know how much business you intend to deliver over the next three years you can easily calculate a projected headcount.

It will help middle managers to understand how the company will shape over the next few years and therefore see opportunities within their own teams. It will also reduce recruitment cost through better negotiations.

Alyson Pellowe is founder and managing director of human resources consultancy People Vision