Use Strategic Planning Techniques to Build Your Workforce Plan

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With unemployment rates at historic lows, organizations have to not only think about filling open requisitions, they also have to develop a long-term approach to staffing. Frankly, if an organization waits until they have an opening before they start strategizing their sources, it will be too late. The recruiting team will always be taking a reactionary approach to staffing.

Workforce planning is about developing a proactive approach to talent acquisition.

I had the opportunity to participate in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) seminar “Workforce Planning: The Future of Work”. I was really interested in taking this seminar because I think that workforce planning is going to be a key activity for organizations faced with recruiting challenges. I believe it’s also going to be absolutely necessary to shift recruiting efforts from reactive to proactive.

But before I talk a little about the workforce plan seminar content, I want to share with you a little personal takeaway that I learned while participating in this online seminar. I signed up for this seminar and blocked the time off on my calendar. I knew that my schedule was busy, but I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, darn it all if life and work didn’t get in the way. Ha.Ha. Mr. Bartender and I moved from South Florida to North Florida. And then I had to shift a couple of project timelines. I’m sure you guys can relate.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because it would have been so easy to just blow off the whole seminar. You know how it goes. You miss a couple of sessions and you figure that you can’t possibly catch up. So just let it go.

Well, I didn’t just let it go. I listened to the entire workforce plan class after the fact. And while I don’t recommend that approach – there’s an advantage to participation – I don’t feel that I missed out on key content. Seriously! I was able to see the instructor, the chat stream, etc. just like I was there.

So, for those of you who are looking at your calendar and saying, “I can’t possibly sign up for this seminar because I’m going to miss a couple of sessions.” I’m here to tell you…sign up anyway! You will not miss out on major pieces of content. Let’s face it, if you’re looking for a perfect moment to attend training, it just might not happen.

Now, back to the conversation about workforce planning.

It was very interesting how the facilitator, Dr. Ed Sherbert, aligned the process of workforce planning to other processes we’re very familiar with. First, he talked about how the marketing department uses data to create a customer profile. That customer profile includes information like buying habits, disposable income, etc. Then, using the customer profile, the marketing and sales departments create a plan to attract (and retain) customers. The sales and marketing plan is rolled up into the company’s strategic plan.

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A strategic plan involves four steps. Let’s do a quick recap:

  1. Formulation. During this step, the organization establishes its goals and objectives. They do this through the process of gathering data, often referred to as an environmental scan. Remember, the outcome of a strategic planning exercise is to answer the following questions:
  • How does the organization compete?
  • How does the organization create value?
  • How does the organization allocate resources?
  • How does the organization make decisions?
  1. Development. Once the strategy has been established, now the actual steps and activities are planned out. These steps are established based on the data from the environmental scan.

This is also where the workforce planning activity takes place. So, in addition to the discussion about the organization and operations, this step includes developing the talent strategy part of the strategic plan. And it answers the questions above as it relates to talent. How will the organization compete for talent? How will the organization add customer value with their talent? How will the organization allocate resources to get the best talent? And finally, how will the organization make decisions regarding talent?

  1. Implementation. Of course, this is the step when organizations turn planning into action. I don’t want to minimize this. The implementation phase is very, very difficult. It’s hard work.
  1. Evaluation. When it comes to strategic planning, I like to think of evaluation as a 2-step process. Evaluate the plan itself to make sure the assumptions and data used in the formulation step are still valid and relevant. Then evaluate that everyone who should weigh-in and buy-into the plan are given the ability to confirm their support. This is true for the workforce plan as well.

One of the reasons I like this approach to workforce planning is because it uses a process that we’re already familiar with. Of course, the seminar goes into a lot more detail, but you can see how workforce planning aligns with business strategy.

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HR has the opportunity to help the organization achieve its business goals by developing and executing a relevant workforce plan. If you want to learn more about how to build a workforce plan for your organization, check out the SHRM seminar schedule for this program and others about talent acquisition.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Boston, MA

Growing your business with apprenticeships (webinar)

Thursday 19 July 2018, 14:00 BST

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and efficient way for any business to cost-effectively recruit and upskill their workforce, ensuring they can grow their own talent and develop a motivated and qualified team.

This Personnel Today webinar, in association with the National Apprenticeships Service, will look at how apprenticeships can help grow your business.

Thousands of SMEs benefit from apprenticeships and employers that have an established apprenticeship programme report a wide range of benefits as a result of training apprentices, with 78% stating that productivity has improved and 86% of employers saying that apprenticeships developed skills relevant to their organisation.

Other benefits that apprenticeships contribute towards include:

  • increasing employee satisfaction
  • reducing staff turnover
  • saving on recruitment costs.

Employers can access significant funding: if you have a pay bill of less than £3 million a year then you could get 90% of your apprenticeship costs paid and if you have fewer than 50 staff, you could get 100% of your apprenticeship costs covered.

Register now to find out how an apprenticeship can help grow your business.

In this 60-minute webinar, Personnel Today’s editor Rob Moss is joined by Clare Bonson, head of intermediary engagement at the National Apprenticeships Service, and Claire Bennison, head of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in the UK.

This free webinar includes a live Q&A session where our speakers will answer any questions about funding, recruitment, ROI and support.

Register now to reserve your place

About our speakers

Clare Bonson is head of intermediary engagement for the National Apprenticeships Service. Clare joined the National Apprenticeship Service at its inception in 2009 as the Learner Services Director in Yorkshire and the Humber. After a period working nationally on key policy developments she became the national lead on relationships with intermediaries in 2016. She provides in-depth support to intermediary organisations to facilitate their positioning as experts and utilise their connections to extend the reach of apprenticeships into new business sectors and regions.

Claire Bennison is head of ACCA UK and works with finance leaders and their training functions in the UK and beyond to build world-class finance capability. Her team ensure that partners choosing ACCA get the best return on their investment, recognising the value of the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience of ACCA qualified professionals across the finance value chain. Before joining ACCA in 2011 as its head of employer relationships, Claire was organisational effectiveness and development adviser at the CIPD.

Bookmark This! #SHRM18 Conference Edition

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A couple of weeks ago, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) held its annual conference in Chicago. Over 22,000 human resources professionals were in attendance. It was an exciting and extremely educational event.

It was also impossible to take in everything that the event has to offer. It’s just huge! So, I wanted to share just a few of the things I found along the way.

I’ve mentioned before that certified professionals can earn recertification credits by reading books. Well, SHRM announced during the conference a new list of books that are eligible for recertification credit. And I’m excited to share that both of my recent titles, “Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success” and “The Recruiter’s Handbook: A Complete Guide for Sourcing, Selecting, and Engaging the Best Talent”, are now eligible for recertification credits.

Speaking of things certification-related, SHRM also recently announced a new specialty credential for talent acquisition professionals. Look for more information about this new offering in future articles.

Another topic of conversation was government. Compliance has always been a big part of our HR roles, but the legislative landscape is changing rapidly. I know that there are moments we simply want to tune out all of the politics, but HR professionals need to find reliable sources to stay on top of what’s happening at a federal, state, and local level. And with legislation like GDPR, we even need to think on a global scale. If you’re not a member of the SHRM A-Team, consider checking it out. SHRM Government Affairs keeps us current and shares some ideas for pending legislation – like this bill on Workflex – that can be a win for employers and employees.

I’m not sure if this has always been a feature at SHRM conferences, but SHRM had an area dedicated to their Knowledge Center. As a SHRM member, you can contact the Knowledge Center for information at no additional charge. Ask them a question, they will research an answer, and send it to you via email. In the past, I’ve used the Knowledge Center for topics like inclement weather policies and meal/rest breaks.

Finally, one of the biggest reasons that I love attending the SHRM annual conference is networking. I can catch up with old friends like John Jorgensen and Steve Browne. And I can spend time getting to know new bloggers. If you don’t subscribe to The SHRM Blog, check it out. It’s a great place to find new voices in the human resources space. For example, I particularly liked this post from Mary Faulkner on “Style or Substance”.

As HR pros, our professional development is important. We spend a lot of time justifying resources for employees to get the training and development they need. Don’t forget about yourself. Mark your calendars now for #SHRM19 in Las Vegas on June 23-26, 2019. Look forward to seeing you there!

Oh, and P.S. I hope you don’t mind a little humblebrag, but the SHRM Store recently announced their top-selling books from the conference and “The Recruiter’s Handbook” was on the list! Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy. I very much appreciate it. Also a big congrats to friends Steve Browne and Tim Sackett for making the list as well.

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Hiring slows slightly as employers struggle to find candidates

Retail was one of the only sectors where demand for staff slowed


Growth in hiring slowed while salaries continued to rise during June, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Its latest Report on Jobs showed that while permanent placements and temporary billings continued to rise, this was at a slower rate than in previous months.

This could be attributed to a further deterioration in the availability of candidates, according to the REC, which in turn has forced many employers to push up salaries to attract potential employees. Both permanent and temporary candidate availability declined at sharper rates at the end of the second quarter of this year, it said.

Demand for permanent staff reached a seven-month high in June, and salaries awarded to new permanent employees experienced a corresponding increase. Rates of pay for temporary and contract staff also jumped at a similar level seen to April, when rates of growth hit a two-year peak.

Neil Carberry, the REC’s new chief executive, said it was “a candidate’s market out there”.

He added: “Across the majority of sectors, both temporary and permanent opportunities are growing, and a lack of candidates means it is no surprise to see starting pay also rising.

“Recruiters report that some of this high vacancy rate may be driven by good demand from companies not being matched by candidate willingness to move in the face of the current economic uncertainty.

Demand for staff rose across both the public and private sectors at the end of the second quarter, though this was more marked in the private sector, according to the REC. The slowest rise was in demand for permanent public sector staff.

In terms of sectors, IT and computing experienced the highest demand for permanent workers, while blue-collar employers showed the greatest need for temporary staff. Demand for both permanent and temporary employees in retail stagnated, reflecting some of the recent turbulence affecting high-street employers.

“The one sector that stands out as in a different place is retail,” said Carbery. “Placements are stagnating as the sector reshapes quickly, driven by changing customer demand and stiff competition.

“But the type of customer service skills retail workers develop are in huge demand in other sectors, and the sheer size of our retail sector means there are still opportunities in stores.”

Demand for permanent roles was steepest in the Midlands, while the weakest was in London, the REC found.

Improve Performance by Expanding Solutions

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After an employee is coached about their performance, a follow-up meeting should always be scheduled. Always. Even if the employee turns their performance around a full 180 degrees. Actually, let me rephrase that. Especially if an employee turns their performance around.

Why? Because having a follow-up meeting allows you to find out what they did to correct the situation. That generates a proven strategy for success that could be used in the future. Correcting a performance issue is tough. IMHO, the key to improving performance is having an awareness of proven solutions. Think of them like a treasure map. When faced with a challenge, we can pull out the right map and use it to help us get to the right place.

The question becomes, what are those right solutions (i.e. maps) that can help us. In many cases, they’re right in front of us. Here are eight that came to mind:

  1. Blogs. I certainly hope that readers find HR Bartender a source of ideas and practical solutions. That being said, there are lots of other blogs that can be useful and very helpful. Harvard Business Review has an outstanding blog. I also love their Management Tip of the Day email. The blogs “Ask a Manager” and “Evil HR Lady” focus on answering reader questions, which can provide some terrific insights.
  1. Books. If you enjoy reading, look to books for models, theories, and stories about how to solve problems. One of the great things about books is they’re often the source of case studies. Right there, you get proven solutions about how an organization was faced with a problem, developed a program, and measured results. Friend and fellow blogger Laurie Ruettimann hosts an HR Book Club that can provide some creative inspiration in terms of takeaways.
  1. Podcasts. I understand books aren’t for everyone. If books aren’t your thing, consider podcasts. Speaker and business advisor Jennifer McClure has launched a podcast series called “Impact Makers”, where she interviews people who are making a positive difference in the world. Looking for new ideas and solutions? I guarantee that you’ll get more than enough while listening to these people’s stories.
  1. Conferences. I honestly believe there’s a conference for every person and budget these days. From the very large Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conferenceand Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Conference to the HR Technology Conference and Expo and the WorkHuman Conference Pioneered by Globoforce. These events give participants an immersive experience focused on education and information.
  1. Expositions. Speaking of conferences, I cannot say enough about the professionals who work the expo hall at conferences. They are some of the smartest people around when it comes to designing solutions for individuals and organizations. Next time you’re at a conference, take a moment to chat with them. It’s okay to grab the swag too…but have a conversation as well.
  1. Seminars. A common complaint that I hear about conferences is that the information doesn’t go deep enough. In those situations, opt for a workshop or seminar instead of a conference. Many are available in both an in-person and virtual format to fit with your schedule. SHRM and ATD both offer programs on a variety of topics. Also, don’t forget to check out the programs that your local HR associations provide.
  1. Meetings. Speaking of local chapter meetings, building networks with fellow professionals can help tremendously when it comes time to problem solve. I’ve always felt in HR that we can’t always talk to anyone about our challenges. Either the person wouldn’t understand, or they would be a bit judgy. Having an HR network allows us to discuss matters with colleagues in a safe environment. And hopefully get some really good suggestions!
  1. Social Media. Last but certainly not least, remember that social media can be a conduit to learning solutions. Whether it happens through an article posted on Facebook, a video on YouTube, or participating in a LinkedIn group (LinkedIn HR is the largest and most active one around). And there’s also Twitter chats like the one hosted by SHRM every Wednesday at 3p Eastern.

It doesn’t matter if you use books, conferences, meetings, or social media. What matters is that we’re constantly looking for solutions. So, when we need them, we have them handy. Because that’s how we solve problems and improve performance.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood District in Miami, FL

Three-quarters of HR leaders want more help in hiring for cultural fit

Lewis Tse Pui Lung /

Almost all HR leaders feel cultural fit is crucial when hiring, yet only 11% are satisfied with how they achieve this, according to research from technology company ThriveMap.

Ninety-six percent of HR leaders responding to ThriveMap’s survey said they prioritised cultural fit, yet 89% wanted to improve their recruitment processes in this regard.

Just over three-quarters (77%) of companies admitted to using gut feel when assessing candidates, potentially opening themselves up to inconsistencies and bias in their recruitment processes.

Where companies were taking steps to improve how they hired for good cultural fit, 92% of them said they used targeted interview questions.

Almost two-thirds used specific competency questions, and 15% said they tried to reduce bias by ensuring that candidates were interviewed by multiple people.

Chris Platts, CEO of ThriveMap, said that companies could be wasting “a huge amount of time and money” by hiring people ill-suited to their culture.

He said: “89% of hiring failures are down to cultural reasons, rather than a capability to do the job.

“Finding a smarter way to hire candidates, who not only have the right skills but also work in a complementary way to their team could make a significant difference to a company’s bottom line.

“We see cultural fit not as a test of personality but a measure of how well people will work with and for each other.”

Dr Stephanie Cook, a psychologist and ThriveMap’s chief science officer, said that looking for someone who is a good cultural fit had become increasingly important as candidates become pickier about the brands they want to work for.

She said: “The role of HR is changing. The rise of social media alongside peer-to-peer review sites like Glassdoor, mean that employers no longer have complete control over their brand and need to find alternative ways to present themselves as an attractive prospect to new employees.

“Those employees in turn want to find working environments that fit not just their skills but also how they like to work.

“Employers that show that they are both conscious of their culture and taking active steps to measure and improve it, will be the winners in the war for talent now and in the future.”

Hirelink is a professional skill development and recruiting Company that specializes in Accounting and Finance Sector.


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