Workforce planning is a great way to ensure that your talent and business goals align properly. When done correctly, workforce planning can seriously give your business a boost by constantly monitoring your needs and how well they are fulfilled. And the good news is that using a workforce planning template can make the process easier than ever before.
A workforce planning template is a document typically created in Excel (or Google Sheets, whichever you prefer) that helps paint a picture of your entire workforce in ways that can be hard to visualize.
By using a document of this nature, you can quickly and accurately nail down just how well your workforce is working in the moment while also examining how well it will work in the future.
Let’s explore this in more details, starting with the basics.
What Is a Workforce Planning Template?
A workforce planning template, like we mentioned briefly above, is a document that you can customize in a way that helps you explore your current workforce in detail. That last bit is important.
While you probably know a good bit about your workforce already, by taking a systematic approach you can keep track of everything going on and even open your eyes to issues that you didn’t know you had.
This document should showcase not only who is working for your organization, but what their skills are, how much they have developed while working for you, what projects they currently have, and everything else under the sun.
It’s important to note that not all workforces are the same, meaning that you should customize your workforce planning template to fit your goals (much like how your workforce should be customized to fit your business needs).
So how do you start using a document like this? Good question.
Filling Out a Workforce Planning Template
The first step in using a workforce planning template is to fill it out. This can take quite awhile for one person to do, which is why we recommend that you have workforce planning templates available to all managers and team leads.
By having direct managers fill out the sheet, you can accurately create a picture of your entire workforce in no time and with the knowledge that the information is accurate because the managers typically work more closely with these employees than you, the HR leader.
What information you collect is completely up to you, though we recommend examining every employee’s skill sets, development, workload, etc. You need to understand how well your workers are working and if their tasks are actually impacting your bottom line or are redundant.
You can look at what we have chosen for our workforce planning template here:
With that said, what can you use a workforce planning template to accomplish?
Using a Workforce Planning Template: Your Goals
As with all workforce planning initiatives, you need to have a thorough understanding of your business goals.
To do this easily, we recommend breaking down your goals by date-range. If you were to examine literally everything your business is doing, was doing, and will do, you’re in for a very confusing endeavor. So, to get around this, take a look at your activities in the short term, long term, and immediate.
Here’s an example: say that you have an immediate goal to produce new email templates for your sales staff. However, you have no writers or email marketers on staff. You could pull someone from marketing over to help with this issue or you could hire a consultant or freelancer to perform the work, getting it done in less time and with less errors.
Here’s another: a project is about to get started that involves selling a product that has regulations surrounding it. Instead of trying to figure out these regulations yourself, you may want to hire someone who knows everything about the issue.
In both of situations, you are looking to fill out a hole in your talent pool by hiring someone outside of the organization.
By understanding how your talent and your goals align, you can make better decisions, allowing you to proactively prepare a plan for your bigger goals and maintain your budget.
It doesn’t make sense, after all, to hire a full-time content creator if you only need them for a few days and it also doesn’t make sense to keep a freelancer onboard for a long term goal. In the end, your talent has to match the need. If it does, you’ll be a step ahead, and if it doesn’t, you’ll likely be wasting money and other resources.
Using a Workforce Planning Template: Enhance Your Current Staff and Future-Proofing
After you have analyzed your workforce, you will often times find that you need more talent to meet your goals. In the examples above, it made sense to hire someone who can complete the job in a timely manner. However, it’s important that you don’t overlook your current workforce, either.
There are many times when a new project will be on the horizon and you find yourself in need of, say, a designer. By looking at the skills of your current staff, you see that one of your workers is a freelance designer on the side and has a true passion for creativity.
Chances are, if you approach that person and offer to develop their design talents, they will be thrilled and will be able to learn what they need to to start working more with design. This is an example of how workforce planning not only helps the business by saving them money on a new hire but also allows the current staff to take a stab at new areas of work that they may truly enjoy.
You need to learn what hidden talents your staff members have and start to utilize them in a way that is mutually beneficial to all. You’d be surprised what talents may be lurking right under your nose.
This also is great for future-proofing your business. By looking at what needs you will have in the future - your long term goals - you can start to examine if your current workforce has what it takes. If it does, that’s fantastic. If it doesn’t, you have time to either develop internally or hire people with the right skills.
This can also save jobs. For example, if you have a product that isn’t working out and you know that it will be cancelled in the near future, you can start training that team to work elsewhere in the company.
Using a Workforce Planning Template: The Key Takeaways
In the end, using a workforce planning template helps you understand how well aligned your talent is with your business needs.
It can help paint a complete picture of your staff, what their goals are, what they enjoy doing, how well they are working, and everything in between.
With this knowledge, you can accurately access if you need to develop, hire, or layoff staff members at your organization based on the needs of the business. It also helps you find talented staff members for future products that they may haven’t even known about.
By using a workforce planning template, you can seriously give your organization a boost. Learn more by downloading our free template below.