This article was originally published on 16/12/2019
If your staff is the lifeblood of your business, then the human resource (HR) department is the heart. They’re charged with keeping all the different extremities in good health and working order by selecting and retaining the talent your company needs.
Unfortunately, for many startups, growth can happen faster than your HR department can keep up. HR leaders are also at the forefront of the companies’ response to a crisis; as seen with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. In such circumstances, it’s time to take up what’s known as strategic human resource planning. In other words, your HR team needs to have a solid workforce plan in place for the future.
With the right resource planning strategy and some helpful software, your HR department can make sure your most valuable asset is protected—your staff.
Why does strategic human resource planning matter?
If you’re new to the concept of strategic human resource planning, here’s a quick rundown of why every growing business can benefit from it.
First, let’s take a step back and consider the aspects of the business that HR is responsible for:
- Finding and recruiting new staff
- Onboarding new employees
- Retraining and upskilling current employees
- Ensuring employee satisfaction
- Managing employee reward schemes
- Overseeing holidays and sick leave for all staff
- Managing staff complaints and warnings
- Selecting and advising employee benefit schemes
- Helping existing employees transition out of the business
- Organising remote working and flexi-working for employees.
Without planning what resources you need, your HR team will likely fall short on some of these tasks. Beyond that, they won’t have the flexibility needed for businesses that are growing in exciting (but sometimes unpredictable) ways.
The benefits of advanced HR planning
The goal of strategic planning for a HR department isn’t just to make sure staff stay on top of all of their tasks. Rather, it’s to help the department align its workflow and processes with the overall business goals—especially in the age of remote working.
In other words, strategic human resource planning means your business and employees will thrive. They can still achieve their goal whether working from the office or from at home; and perhaps faster than ever.
There are many benefits to resource planning, including:
- Employees feel empowered and secure because they understand their role and what expectations are. This means they’ll stay longer, thus improving overall retention rate and the quality of staff.
- Business leaders can focus on what matters most—steering the business toward success—without having to worry about each employee individually.
- The culture of your business grows and develops, becoming more clearly defined for all employees and lending to the overall strength and unity of your workforce.
- The business itself will grow at a faster rate, because your HR team will be able to meet unexpected developments, and they won’t be wasting their time on unnecessary tasks.
How to improve human resource planning
Now that you know how important it is for an HR team to have a strategy, how exactly do you go about implementing and improving one of your own?
Here are our top tips on how to improve strategic HR planning:
1. Take stock of where you are now
Before you can start planning for the future, you need to have a deep understanding of the current state of affairs.
Take a look at your business and start recording what resources you have on hand now. If you aren’t already using one, this would be a great time to invest in an employee management software system.
You’ll want to ask a few questions during this process:
- What processes do we have in place? Which ones are missing?
- Do employees have career development plans?
- Is anyone preparing to onboard or depart the business now?
- What are our current employee expenses?
2. Interview your current staff, from the top down
To map out a strategy, you need to understand the company’s goals and pain points. You’ll need to interview multiple people in different parts of the business to get an accurate picture.
Start with the leaders of your business
Hold a meeting where they can outline their short-term and long-term goals for the business. Ask them to be as specific as possible, so that you are certain of where you’ll need to put resources, processes, and people into play.
Spend time working closely with the CFO or their team
You will need a good overview of the business financial goals, as that will directly impact how many new employees you can onboard and what sort of employee benefits you can provide.
Meet with managerial staff and ask them about their current teams
Ask them to run through each employee and their role, their history with the company, and how that employee is performing and enjoying their job.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have the three big takeaways you need to build your strategy:
- The company’s long-term and short-term goals
- The company’s financial health and projection
- Areas where there are gaps in staff and the retraining of current employees
Now it’s time to start building the strategy itself.
3. Divide your strategy into sections
There’s a good chance your strategic human resource planning will result in a lot of changes, so it’s best to work through the process in stages.
The order in which you tackle these stages will vary depending on your business needs, but here are some places to start:
A big part of human resource efficiency is down to the process you have in place. As you do your research, you’ll find places where processes don’t exist or aren’t doing what they need to do.
Identify key dates in the coming year
Look through the upcoming calendar year and mark off the most important dates. Add in things like any employee departures or retirements, as well as moments when your business is likely to need more staff to meet business demands. Use these to prioritise your strategy for the next twelve months.
There will undoubtedly be unexpected developments in the near future that will impact your HR team as we saw globally with the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Though you can’t predict the future, you can plan for potential scenarios based on what’s happened in the past or with other companies like yours.
4. Remember, your strategy will grow and change
A strong strategic human resource plan isn’t something that can simply be written up and put in a folder for the year. It needs to be tended to and reassessed frequently, and there’s no doubt it will change as your business does.
Set regular meetings with your HR team and other stakeholders in the business to routinely review the strategy and adjust it as needed. Though you want to remain firm on processes and standards you set, your strategy overall will benefit if it’s flexible and agile.
Though it may seem overwhelming now, a strategy will help the HR department feel prepared to tackle any challenges they may face. Startups with limited resources can ease the process with the right technology in place.
5. Adopt digital HR solutions that support work from home
The adoption of digital HR processes has become crucial, thanks to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Technology is now being integrated into every area of HR, including self-service tools for onboarding.
As many employees have no choice but to work from home and may want to continue doing so post-pandemic, the use of digital tools such as remote working software is accelerating.
HR technologies are available for access by both employee and employer from anywhere and can be used for processes, scheduling, training, and requests. As this way of working is the new norm, companies should adopt the best practices for their employees in remote settings.
Strategic human resource planning may seem daunting but it has many benefits for both employees and managers, which is key for the organisational success of your company.