Workforce Planning: Action Steps for Today’s Economy

The current economy has driven down revenues dramatically.

This is not a newsflash, of course, but a harsh reality that has triggered sweeping changes to workforce plans – plans to increase capabilities, reduce costs, and survive the economic chaos that’s likely to linger into 2010.

If your company is struggling in the current economy, here are five key action steps you should consider adding to your workforce plan:

1.  Reduce labor costs and/or headcount. 

Identify which key positions, key individuals, and key skill sets will have the most business impact during the next two years.  Once you prioritize, you can then focus on retention, redeployment, and development efforts for the most impactful positions.

Develop ways to reduce labor costs and headcount in lower priority positions.  Ideas include:  mock or temporary layoffs; designating lower priority positions as “contingent labor” positions; labor wage arbitrage; and flexible outsourcing.

2.  Redeploy key employees.

Create a proactive redeployment process to move your top performers and highly skilled individuals into the units and jobs where they can have the greatest impact.  You should strive to have your best and brightest:

  • doing what they do best;
  • with the right skill set for the job and business unit;
  • with the right tools, resources, and motivators;
  • with the right manager; and
  • with the right teammates.

3.  Retain key employees.

Tough times will not automatically cause your top employees to value security over external opportunity.  And just because you’re not hiring, it doesn’t mean your competitors aren’t targeting your very best.  So make retention a priority even during a downturn.

First, identify the things that excite and frustrate your key workers.  Then provide a plan for increasing their level of excitement, challenge, learning, and opportunity within the firm.  Finally, develop a “bad manager identification program,” because bad managers are the number one cause of employee turnover.

4.  Reinvigorate your succession plan.

If your firm has experienced hiring freezes or layoffs, it has made itself vulnerable to a future talent pool gap.  By failing to hire and develop talent, there may not be enough internal talent to fill future leadership positions once growth begins again.

The best course of action in this case is to maximize your talent pool, hiring top performers while simultaneously releasing below-average employees.  This approach will foster employee development and minimize the potential for a future talent gap.

5.  Prepare to “explode out of the box.”

Ensure you have sufficient talent to capitalize on the upturn by retaining your best recruiters and having them focus on:  developing Web 2.0 recruiting tools; maintaining employee referral programs; updating your employment branding.

Develop a “boomerang” program that maintains relationships with the very best employees you’ve had to release during the recession.  Staying in touch may allow you to rehire some of the proven talent you’ve lost once business improves.

To learn how UNITEMP’s services can help you manage your workforce more effectively, visit our website.

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