Your guide to human resource planning processes

human resource planning processes

Your employees are at the epicenter of your business operations. And just like the far-reaching impact of an earthquake, the shockwaves that result from poor human resource planning are felt throughout the organization—in the form of missed deadlines, stressed employees, and unhappy customers.

A human resource planning process can prevent these issues by helping businesses forecast and balance staffing needs and customer demands. Simply put, you need enough coverage for the projects you have planned.

Effective human resource planning brings out the best in your people while driving business growth and profitability. When you plan ahead, you have the right people at the right time for the right tasks. Plus, your employees are in control of workloads and deadlines, which helps them feel relaxed and motivated to do their best work. This, in turn, boosts productivity and job satisfaction.

What is a human resource planning process?

Human resource planning is the process of analyzing your people needs and planning ahead to meet them. It involves evaluating your current staff, key skills, hiring budget, and growth plans so that you can accurately forecast future requirements based on your business goals.

The underlying goal of human resource management is to make sure you have the right number of people with the skills you need. By strategically utilizing the talent within your organization, you get the best return on investment. For instance, if your project pipeline includes 20 design projects and two app infrastructure projects, you’ll need more hours from designers than developers.

But a person in a key role could be due to start parental leave or have a vacation planned during the course of your project. In another scenario, you may need new skills for a project, and you need to either hire someone with those skills, reach out to a freelancer, or provide training to an existing employee. Planning ahead helps your HR department pinpoint any gaps in skills to effectively cover the needs of a project.

Without strategic human resource planning in place, your company’s business operations are in trouble—you could overshoot hiring budgets or hire the wrong people, burn out existing team members, or lose customer trust with the inability to scale with demand.


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5 steps for strategic human resource planning

A step-by-step approach to your HR planning process is the key to adequately covering your staffing needs and keeping your iron triangle—budget, scope, and deadline—in balance.

Step 1: Assess your organizational goals and plans

A deep dive into organizational goals and plans for growth will help you understand the direction the company is taking. This helps you outline human resource initiatives that are aligned with larger company goals and result in higher profitability.

Ideally, your assessment will answer these questions:

  • What are the company’s goals for the next quarter or year?
  • What specific skills and tasks are needed to achieve the goals?
  • Which roles will be at the forefront to drive company goals forward?
  • Are the human resource plans taking stock of existing talent and training or will they require something different?

Step 2: Evaluate employee skillsets

To begin your workforce planning, get complete visibility into your current talent pool. Often, HR managers are unaware of skills employees have but are not using in their current roles. This is a waste of your existing institutional knowledge—and, consequently, the dollars you are spending on training and hiring new people.

A key task here is to build a skills inventory for each full-time and part-time employee, so you best utilize the talent you worked so hard to hire and develop.

One way to do this is to ask each employee about their skills, certifications, and experience. For larger organizations, this could mean sending out a survey to the current workforce and asking them to list their skills and experience, which could then be applied to company needs.

A resource management tool like Resource Guru lets you filter by skills and is a handy way to quickly compile an updated list of key talents.

filter by skills to find the resources you need

If you don’t have such a tool, performance reviews or reports from managers can also give you insights into skills and subject matter expertise. These will usually tell you the areas each employee excels in as well as some of their qualifying characteristics, such as the ability to manage time or lead people.

As part of your assessment, look at the current tasks within each role and an employee’s capacity and track record for completing those tasks. For example, if you have customer service staff who are responsible for responding to service requests, how many can they get through on average per day?

Step 3: Forecast your future HR needs

You need to forecast how business growth will impact the demands of each role. You don’t want your staff to be overworked and log overtime hours on a regular basis—it will negatively impact the quality of work and employee morale.

With capacity planning, you can evaluate whether you have enough employee hours to take on new work. This way, you make realistic growth plans and better hiring decisions. Workloads are manageable, and employees are able to produce quality work within deadlines.

Your forecasts should cover both demand and supply. Forecasting your future needs helps you pinpoint any staffing shortages and determine if you need to grow your overall headcount with new hires, make better use of your current human resources, or upskill your current employees. If none of these are viable options, you may need to look at alternative sources of skills, such as contractors.

By forecasting demand, you can identify where current gaps lie within the company. A resource management tool can help you account for booked vacations, retirement, potential sick days, and flexible schedules so that you are not scheduling employees when they are unavailable.

accounting for time off in human resource planning processes

It’s important to take this into account as there are skill sets that are in hot demand across companies and can be difficult to get hold of.

For example, certain IT skillsets are well-known for being highly competitive to hire. If you know this ahead of time, you can start your search early and ensure that your company is offering the right sort of enticing packages to people with those skills.

Step 4: Hone your talent development strategies

Talent development is a critical part of the human resource planning process because training existing staff is easier and less expensive than hiring new employees. It is more efficient to retain staff who are already familiar with the business and product. Besides, finding new talent is hard, especially in the face of the massive talent shortages the business world is facing.

Developing your employees is not just good for business; it also boosts their morale. Employees feel valued when they see the company investing in their careers. On-the-job training, peer feedback, and succession planning are essential components of a talent development strategy.

For each critical role, do you have other people who can step in? If someone were promoted to a senior role, who would take over theirs? Does that leave gaps at the bottom?

Talent development plans are most effective when they are collaborative, clearly outlined with steps for growth, and include Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Your talent action plan should include:

  • Training plans for current employees
  • Job descriptions for each role
  • Recruitment plans for each role
  • Onboarding plans for new employees
talent development as part of a human resource planning process

Source: AIHR

It’s important to have clear steps for any plan. For example, if an employee’s training plan includes becoming proficient in a certain skill or learning new technology, what is needed to get them there? Which resources are required and who needs to sign off on them?

Step 5: Review and evaluate your action plan

To be effective, human resource planning needs to be an ongoing process that continually takes stock of headcount, workloads, and business objectives. It’s important to reassess and determine if you are making the most of your human capital. Are you able to meet operational goals or are there still gaps? Have there been any issues that might require you to adjust the plan?

You can then use the results of the assessment to guide your future planning and iterate the process.

With a strong human resource planning process, you can:

Done well, effective human resource planning offers key benefits to organizations, helping them be proactive with a standardized process. Plus, it boosts employee engagement, talent development, and company profitability.

1. Stay future-ready by planning ahead

If an organization realizes they need a particular human resource now, they’re in a reactive situation. This can result in rushed hiring processes and possibly having difficulty finding the right person for the job.

A human resource planning system helps you stay ahead of the game. You can proactively scout for candidates before you reach a point where the role is desperately needed. Or you can make sure current employees are trained well ahead of time. That’s a win!

2. Put a standardized system in place

One of the great things about a plan is that it can allow you to standardize your approach.

When you’re able to standardize, you create a process that is repeatable—no reinventing the wheel each time a new resource is needed. It also leads to consistency in hiring outcomes. Both in the quality of new hires and the speed of the hiring process.

3. Keep current employees engaged

HR planning motivates current employees and has a positive impact on company culture. When people have training plans, they see a clear path forward in their careers and that the company is willing to invest in them. Documented plans are a good idea because they are transparent and show commitment—no vague promises of training or upskilling that don’t materialize.

An added engagement benefit here is that human resource planning helps to ensure your current employees aren’t overloaded while trying to fill in gaps in resources. People are happier when they don’t feel overworked.

4. Be competitive in the battle for talent

Companies that have a robust human resource planning system are steps ahead of those that don’t. While others scramble to try to fill their needs, HR professionals with a plan in place can start the hiring process early and know what they need to do to attract the best talent.

In certain key roles, this is very important. The battle for talent is a well-documented issue for several skill sets. Being ahead means you know where to find that talent and how to get them on board.

5. Deliver high-quality work and keep employees happy

Human resource planning is about having the right talent at the right time. Projects get finished on time and within budget when the right resources are available. Big accounts get won, operational processes run smoothly, and companies are able to grow.

The bottom line is that human resource planning is good for your bottom line!

Lean on technology for your human resource planning process

While human resource planning can be a time-consuming process, it’s worth the undertaking. Companies that make the best use of their valuable human resources tend to be at a competitive advantage over others.

It’s about more streamlined operations and the ability to meet all of your skills and talent needs wherever they arise. For your employees, it means a satisfying job where their talents are valued and their workload is fair.

Having the right software for forecasting and human resource planning can help lighten the load for busy project managers. See how we can simplify the resource scheduling process.

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