The process and procedures employers use to fill out and train their workforces in order to meet business needs are known as human resource planning (HRP) and management. The University of Illinois Springfield Master of Science in Human Resource Management online program prepares graduates to execute strategic human resource planning and management. Successful HRP results from talent that can meet organizational goals, including key positions filled by personnel trained to excel in these roles.
Since business plans, objectives, priorities and needs change over time, a human resource planning and management strategy must be flexible and continually evolve. The process begins with an audit of the current capacity of the workforce and how it fits the current organizational needs — repeating this step whenever the business goes into a change management phase.
The next step is forecasting future talent needs based on business goals, economic conditions, employment market and strategies for competitive companies. Hiring and training strategies must align and evolve with each of these factors, which is no easy feat. Consider these two statistics:
- 83% of employers believe attracting and retaining talent is a growing challenge, according to Allegis Group
- 47% of HR leaders cite employee retention and turnover as their top workforce management challenge, followed by recruitment, according to SHRM
Five Steps of Human Resource Planning
Understanding what it takes to achieve success in HRP is paramount. There are four key steps human resource professionals must master:
- Analyze current labor supply using technical and soft skills and experience
- Forecast labor demand
- Anticipate potential demand spikes and workforce shortages and surpluses (and determine actions to balance supply and demand)
- Plan on how to train, develop and retain employees to support organizational goals
Each step comes with challenges, and overcoming these challenges is part of strategic human resource planning. Organizations must attract suitable candidates in a competitive employment market, which may challenge salary structures. They must work around absences, resolve workplace conflicts between employees and determine how to promote and retain the best performers. If they can plan ahead, overcoming these challenges will lead to greater productivity, profitability and growth.
Five Best Practices for HRP Success
The following are five best practices for successful human resource planning:
- Balance and rebalance labor demand with supply: The pace of change in business is continually accelerating, which forces employers to invest in more frequent labor pool and workforce assessments. As a result, HR leaders must create gap analyses that forecast needs and plan around acquiring those needs, which may come through training and professional development, leadership development, reorganization of teams and recruitment and retention efforts.
- Drive communication with management: It is not enough to simply produce findings and reports and share them with the executive team. Company leaders typically prioritize more urgent plans. However, HR leaders must be proactive in educating the executive team about the importance of getting ahead of the curve and staying there, just as executives communicate business strategy changes to HR. There must be regular human resource planning and management meetings between the teams.
- Documentation of the plan and its evolution: The HRP process becomes familiar and repeatable over time with proper documentation of every step. This element enables new executive and HR leaders to step into their roles and continue where their predecessors left off. Consider presenting critical information in several ways, including charts, flowcharts and graphs. Use collaborative software that enables contributors to dynamically make changes and automatically update all involved executive and HR leaders.
- Distinctly define “best fit” for key roles: Access to talent pools alone does not ensure pairing the right new employees with open roles. Successful organizations engage in continual knowledge sharing about the success factors related to each position and note the evolution of these factors as business strategies and individual responsibilities change. Consider technical, leadership and soft skills as you develop complex positional profiles to hire and promote talent.
- Showcase the results and value of HRP: Leaders in human resources must be able to put on a marketing hat from time to time in order to communicate successes and tout the results of their effective HRP collaborations. Tying specific achievements in the four steps in HRP planning to organizational objectives ensures that the executive team will continue to consider the importance of ongoing investments in human resource planning and management.
Fortunately for aspiring human resources leaders, these best practices and others have become standardized in organizational best practices. Failure to follow these practices could be detrimental to an organization’s short- and long-term success.
Today, leading academic institutions, including the University of Illinois Springfield’s M.S. in Human Resource Management online program, provide the necessary training so well-educated professionals are ready to confidently implement time-tested HRP practices.