Strategic workforce planning: the building blocks of success
Louise West

5 minutes

Strategic workforce planning: the building blocks of success

In an increasingly competitive talent market, attracting and retaining people with high-value skillsets is more complex than ever. For business success, strategic workforce planning is essential.

Being able to attract and retain the best talent has forever been a critical component of any HR leader’s role within a business. Today, however, things are becoming increasingly difficult.

Unemployment numbers in the UK, US are at record lows. In Australia, employment is at its highest level in recorded history. We are operating in a full-employment economy. People with technical skill sets have more career options and greater flexibility. Subsequently, businesses are struggling to build and retain teams that can implement core strategies and drive growth.

A competitive talent market puts HR leaders in a powerful position

It isn’t all bad news, however. HR experts find themselves in a robust situation where their roles are more powerful than ever. But to make the best use of their position and cement their newfound status, they need to effectively align talent with business strategy.

Embracing strategic workforce planning is the most effective way to achieve this. Though it requires high-level technical skills and is far from a simple process, creating a talent roadmap using predictive analytics can allow a business to better understand their strategic talent needs — both for the present moment and the future.

Information gleaned from predictive analytics can be used to identify where the best hires come from, as well as highlighting unnecessary job requirements or sourcing biases that may limit the talent pool. With talent scarcer than ever, limiting a talent pool inevitably leads to an increase in both costs and time-to-hire.

The aim of strategic workforce planning is to improve efficiencies and/or uncover and eliminate bad practices that may be unique to the specific area or widespread across an organisation.

Strategic workforce planning is no simple process

For many busy in-house HR teams, using granular data analytics to feed workforce planning can be overwhelming, especially for those who aren’t well-versed in using the latest technology. Indeed, data analytical skills are among the most scarce in the labour market.

Such apprehension and confusion are why smart businesses are increasingly collaborating with their MSP and RPO providers. Of course, not every business in this industry can offer better solutions to what an organisation already employs. But some, like Guidant Global, are experts in formulating advanced workforce planning built upon insightful data analytics.

The three core building blocks of workforce planning

Workload assessment

A workload assessment is a detailed review of tasks completed and the time spent performing them during a defined period of time

Full-time equivalent (FTE) analysis

This is the analysis of true FTE requirements over a defined period of time (e.g. 12 months), incorporating the real-world effect of time off (e.g. PTO, holidays, sick leave), known projects and workload fluctuations.

Activity-based costing

Activity-based costing uses an activity-based modelling tool to identify the way work is scheduled. It moves through a process to identify where delays and/or bottlenecks might be introduced.

The model’s results support process changes to reduce or eliminate non-value added work, improve cycle times and resource utilisation, and identify the cost of wasted effort or non-value added tasks.

The outcomes

These building blocks fully optimise workforce planning, predict specific talent outcomes, and ultimately result in overall quality efficiency cost risk (QECR). Put simply, strategic workforce planning ensures that talent spend within an organisation is kept as lean as possible.

In addition, it enables the transformation and of an organisation’s processes and data into actionable intelligence — intelligence based on what is happening right now within a business and not just what has happened in the past.

Why strategic workforce planning is essential for long-term success

“In this age of digital transformation and market disruption, today’s smart businesses are increasingly investing in strategic workforce planning to get ahead of the competition
— Beth Przywara, VP Consulting, Analytics & Outsourcing, Guidant Global

To put the importance of data-led business in perspective, a 2017 report published by US market researcher Forrester — Insights-Driven Businesses Set The Pace For Global Growth — reveals that insight-driven organisations are growing 8x faster than global GDP.

Strategic workforce planning is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s complex and requires high-level skills. But though it may seem like a difficult undertaking, it’s an essential strategic component of any business that wants to succeed not only in the current market but also in the data-led future.


To better understand the complicated world of strategic workforce planning, download our free strategic workforce planning guide.

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