If you are in the service, manufacturing, healthcare, or retail business, you know that having the right people in the right place at the right time is crucial for success. If not, you could risk costly delays, customer dissatisfaction, and even lost profits. But you know this, and that is why getting workforce planning is absolutely essential.
So in this article, we are going to delve into, why it is important, and how you can plan ahead effectively.
But first, let’s look at what it is.
What is workforce planning?
“Workforce planning is the process of balancing labour supply (skills) against the demand (numbers needed)… It’s about getting the right number of people with the right skills employed in the right place at the right time, at the right cost and on the right contract to deliver an organisation’s short and long-term objectives.” – CIPD
Essentially, workforce planning enables businesses to maximise efficiency and have a workforce prepared to handle peak demand periods, seasonal fluctuations, or unexpected events.
Typically, workforce planning was primarily used amongst those industries that acquired shift and hourly workers. However, with the advent of the gig economy and the changing nature of the workplace (e.g. remote and hybrid working), workforce planning has become an important tool for all companies regardless of industry or size.
It allows you to have an understanding of your workforce needs and adjust accordingly. It also allows you to easily identify gaps in availability and competencies, as well as anticipate any potential needs, such as additional training.
How to conduct workforce planning
If you are looking to conduct workforce planning manually, you cannot start without having access to all your HR data. And by that, we mean a comprehensive overview of your employee data (such as skills, contracts, availability, etc.). Once you have all your data in place, you can then get started.
- Establish your objectives
The first step of workforce planning is to determine what your organisation wants to achieve. This will help you develop the right strategy and tactics you can use to reach those objectives. Some examples of objectives include: reducing costs, increasing productivity, or simply making sure that you have enough people with the right skills on shift to meet customer demand.
- Analyse your current workforce
Once you have a clear vision of your business objective, it is time to analyse your workforce. This includes analysing your current employee data, including their skills and competencies, job responsibilities, and any other relevant information that can help you get a better understanding of the existing workforce.
From there, you will be able to identify any gaps between the skills that you need and those that you have. This will help inform your future plans for hiring, training and development, and rota scheduling.
- Anticipate future demand
The next step is to forecast future demand for skills and personnel. This is where you will have to look at historical data, industry trends, economic factors, and other relevant information or HR metrics you can benchmark against to get an understanding of your future needs. It’s also a good idea to plan for any unexpected events or changes that could affect your workforce needs.
- Create action plans
Now that you have a thorough understanding of your current workforce and future needs, it’s time to come up with action plans for how to bridge the gap between them. This could include hiring new staff, promoting from within, or training existing employees.
And in terms of rota scheduling, you can use the data to create more efficient rotas and rosters that meet the needs of your business while also taking into account employee preferences. And just as a little tip, on anticipated ‘busy’ days, it is always wise to schedule staff that are multi-skilled in order to cover any unforeseen absences.
The power of automated workforce planning
Doing workforce planning manually can be a time-consuming process that requires high levels of expertise. It’s also very easy to make mistakes when dealing with large volumes of data. You risk losing out on real-time insights that could help you make better decisions for your organisation, and ultimately, could lead to costly errors.
Therefore, for larger organisations with more complex needs, it’s often a better option to use a HR software that can help automate the process.
At elementsuite, we understand the importance of workforce planning in today’s rapidly changing business environment, which is why we have developed a comprehensive and powerful workforce planning module (also known as elementWork).
Storing all your HR and people data into our highly secure and user-friendly platform, elementWork offers a suite of analytics and insights that enables you to:
Generate accurate forecasts & targets
By harnessing data from budgets, previous year’s performance, and system sales forecasts, along with localised weather predictions, elementsuite’s workforce planning module enhances daily forecast accuracy and drives reductions in target hours and wage costs.
You can then review the planned hours and costs compared to your budget for re-forecasting in the week ahead to align costs in line with current performance.
Create optimised schedules
elementWork lets you create optimised schedules that are WTD compliant and meet the targeted hours while considering employee availability. It also has a “shape of day” service model to help you accurately calculate staffing at 15-minute intervals, enabling more precise scheduling, and helping you ensure that the right skills are in place at the right times.
So if you have any unplanned absences, or if there are any changes in customer demand, you can easily adjust your schedules accordingly – which is one of the reasons that Travelodge has recently implemented our workforce planning module in their UK hotels.
Publish open shifts & authorise changes
elementWork also allows you to set up employees to work additional roles or at different locations with full visibility on the rota. And matched with our Payroll and Time and Attendance, you don’t have to worry about your staff not being paid for the different pay grades for different roles – elementWork automates that for you.
The software also offers the flexibility to add unplanned absences against planned rota for payroll, so you are always up-to-date with your payroll systems.
And when you have unfilled shifts at bay, you can quickly publish them with a click of a button, and all your employees will receive a notification on their mobiles phones, enabling them to change or swap shifts (as per your authorisation).
Allocate TRONC and calculate shift premiums
For those in the service industry, allocating tips and shift premiums can be a time-consuming and complex process. However, with elementWork, you can easily allocate TRONC service, credit card tips, and calculate shift premiums accurately and in real-time – saving you from those costly errors that could arise from manual calculations.
Plus, with the integration with elementTime, you can automatically capture when employees clock in and out, giving managers real-time visibility on their attendance records.
Control over finances
By having all your data integrated across the board, from budgets to actuals, and shift premium calculations – you are always in the know on how your site is performing.
With the elementWork’s drill-down from company to site view for reporting on sales and labour, you can review actual sales against budget, as well as projected labour costs – allowing you to take prompt remedial action within forecast and schedule to deliver faster results and ultimately keep everything on track with the budget.
But this isn’t only for the shift-working industry, as this powerful ability to analyse budgets and project labour costs is an all-time boon for white-collar organisations, such as those in the finance sector.
By setting maximum FTEs against each role within the platform, you can easily track your budget cycle and have full visibility on overspending and underspending.
Finding that you are underspending on a job role? Great! You can use that money to fund other roles that need it. Overspending? Don’t worry, you can adjust your plans and forecasts to stay in line with your budget.
You can even view salary band vs actual salary, and get a better understanding of your labour costs – if there are discrepancies, you can quickly identify what caused it, and take appropriate steps to ensure your costs are managed effectively.
In this way, elementsuite’s workforce planning module helps you stay on top of your finances and puts the power back in your hands.
Take the pain out of workforce planning
So, what’s it going to be? Keep trying to make sense of manual labour costs and forecasts or trust elementsuite’s automated workforce planning module?
With a few clicks, you get your rota plan up and running in no time, allowing you to efficiently staff schedules and forecast labour costs – while also minimising the tedious task of data entry.
Plus, everything can be accessed on the go on any mobile device, allowing you to review and act on data anytime, anywhere.
Ready to see how it works? Book a demo with us today and see the power of elementsuite’s workforce planning module first-hand.