Any business serious about survival and growth in difficult economic times needs to have a plan. Workforce planning is crucial because it’s all about how you deploy your most important assets and often one of the largest areas of expenditure – your employees.

Advocates of workforce planning often point to the wasteful consequences of not having a good plan – an extreme example is the report in 2013 that at least 2,200 NHS staff – mostly managers with an average payout of £48,000 – were re-employed after taking voluntary or compulsory redundancy.

A CIPD poll found that organisations interpreted workforce planning in a number of different ways.

  • Succession planning (62%)
  • Flexible working (53%)
  • Demand supply forecasting (53%)
  • Skills audit/gap analysis (49%)
  • Talent management (42%)
  • Multi-skilling (36%)
  • Role design (35%)
  • Risk management (34%)
  • Outsourcing (29%)
  • Career planning (28%)
  • Scenario planning (20%).

What is workforce planning?

A workforce plan is, at its most basic, a plan to ensure you have the right number of people with the right level of skills in the required place and at the right time. A proper staffing plan ensures your firm has the right skills in place when they’re needed. After all, construction managers won’t want a glut of plasterers on site when the project requires carpenters.

  • Operational Workforce Planning addresses short-term staffing demands, determining what human resources will be needed and where – it’s about the nitty-gritty business of shift management which sectors such as manufacturing and services need to get right to run their operations efficiently.
  • Strategic Workforce Planning is about taking the long view and forecasting your job role needs for the future.

Why are Workforce plans important?

Having a workforce plan is important because it:

√  Ensures that sufficient staff are available at the right time.

√  Enables an organisation to be better able to meet its targets and therefore remain successful.

  Encourages businesses to look ahead and formulate plans, providing a trigger for examining costs and productivity.

√  Boosts staff morale and employee engagement and ultimately productivity.

Steps to assemble a workforce plan

The steps to assemble a workforce plan will vary according to the nature and especially size of your business. However SMEs looking to juggle customer needs with varied working patterns often find it challenging to create an effective operational workforce plan.  Here are some of the steps involved in making up your workforce plan:

  • Gather all your employee data together in one place – this is quantitative data such as absence data, working patterns and so on.
  • Review your HR and financial information – that is, the number of employees, pay costs, overtime charges, agency costs etc.
  • Map your workforce onto upcoming contracts – this is where you need to match workforce hours to customer needs, creating a work plan.
  • Calculate workforce costs – once you know the hours needed for the different job roles you can calculate the payroll costs.

Workforce management software supports planning

Replacing the outdated use of fiddly local spreadsheets, businesses now find workforce management software invaluable. Workforce management software makes workforce planning easier.

The Chronologic Workforce Management System provides a useful and cost-effective way of collecting and gathering time and attendance and HR information in one place.

The system provides:

  • time and attendance system for gathering clocking-in data from RFID and biometric terminals, web and phone.
  • An HR module which makes it easy, accessible and manageable to gather employee data in one place; the fields are customisable which means that information can be stored and reported on in the way that you need.
  • Rostering and scheduling module. The system makes creating and managing shifts and rotas simpler; Day Plans are an effective way to ensure that the correct staffing and skills levels are available to deliver particular tasks, projects and events.

Data is key to any workforce plan – ready access and the ability to review and manage information such as numbers of employees, pay costs, overtime and so on, makes life a lot easier.

For more information about our solutions and products call 01761 410015 or email