Workforce planning and analysis can help you to streamline hiring and recruitment, reduce employee turnover, and reduce or eliminate skills and talent gaps. Using workforce analysis to plan HR activities is good business, but it is important to do it right.

Unfortunately, most companies are bad at workforce planning. With no real idea of how to predict future talent needs and no way to easily measure what’s missing, many businesses set unachievable targets or the wrong ones.

Following these 5 best practices will help you improve your workforce planning to ensure that you’re on the right track.

5 best practices for workforce planning

Integrate Workforce Analysis into Existing Performance Management Cycles

You may already perform regular cycles of workforce review. Integrating workforce analysis into your existing cycles of performance reviews allow you to cut costs, while handing data collection and analysis off to the people who know their teams best–managers. It also gives you the opportunity to begin workforce analysis without disrupting existing processes. Some types of reviews may have to be performed separately, but anything you can integrate will save you time and headache.

Take Changing Industry into Consideration

Planning future workforce needs is an important part of workforce planning, but many companies fail simply because they do not take changing industry and technology into consideration. Staying on top of technology trends and industry trends will help you to better predict future workforce needs. Luckily, much of this information is already available to HR through strategy and planning. You can follow up with additional research, but by ensuring that you know what’s changing in the next year, you can make sure your workforce is ready to meet changing needs.

Plan to Promote Your Existing Workforce Rather than Hiring New

Hiring new employees to fit into new roles is expensive, time consuming, and often difficult. Good workforce planning allows you to predict roles and promote and train existing employees to fit those roles as they open up, so that you can retain valuable talent even when their current roles close or restructure. Working to offer advancement and continued education to employees also helps you to boost morale and company loyalty, because they will know that if something is happening, you want them to be part of it.

Remember Workforce Planning is Business Strategy

It’s easy to approach workforce planning and analysis like an HR problem, but it’s a business strategy problem. Without the right employees to fill gaps, offer efficiency, and meet needs, business productivity drops and costs go up. Good workforce planning promotes efficiency and ensures a smooth production process from end-to-end. Get business and leadership invested in it.

Make Workforce Planning About Empowerment

Workforce planning can be about who you hire, who you’re firing, and who’s retiring and moving on. But it can also be about providing valuable employees room for growth, grooming promising employees to take the role of someone else moving into retirement, and allowing your team to move up rather than forcing employees to leave in order to advance. Integrating workforce empowerment into planning and strategy allows you to give employees opportunities, while creating a workforce that optimizes business production and growth.

Good workforce planning is good business, and hopefully you can use these best practices to focus a strategy to optimize hiring and employee retention.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick