KEEPING UP TO DATE
Workforce Planning for SMEs
8 Dec 2020
The first time I mention Workforce Planning to some of my clients I can see them break into a cold sweat and that vein in their forehead starts to pulse. I know that their blood pressure has just gone up and their mouth has gone dry because I slipped in “corporate speak” instead of the way I normally communicate with clients. Practical and pragmatic language that makes sense.
For many small business owners and managers, the idea of workforce planning conjures up images of complex matrixes of roles, skills and future projects models and they think I’m about to make managing a team into something out of an episode of “the Office”.
The reality is very different. And it is just as important in a smaller business as in a big business – possibly even more important. In a big business, you always have someone to cover a role and more than one person with the skills, but in a SME life isn’t like that. We all have to wear multiple hats and often we are the only person with the qualifications for our role.
So, before your heart starts to pound and you feel queasy, let me explain what I mean by Workforce Planning. In simple terms it means ensuring you have the right people, with the right skills in your business to deliver your business plan or goals. At its heart it is a really simple process of matching what is happening in your business with the people in your business now and who you want to be there in the future.
Hopefully, you have a business plan in place. It doesn’t need to be 100 pages long and full of complex diagrams and codewords that only you can decipher. It does need to create a clear picture of you want and need to deliver. However, most of us don’t deliver everything in our business ourselves. We have grown beyond that and employ a team to make the impossible, possible. This is your workforce plan at its simplest.
It is the process of making sure you have the right combination of team and technology to achieve your dreams and should take into account some or all of the following things:
- current and future workloads
An honest picture of what is really happening in your business is essential to a workforce plan. Too much work for the existing team or too little projected work to come in the future changes everything. Be honest with yourself, otherwise you will end up with a team of stressed out and unhappy people or a team of people mastering “among us” on your time because they have nothing better to do.
- market and technology changes
Is there new technology change that will fundamentally effect how your business operates? Are there new products or competitors that you will need to adjust your business to compensate for?
For example, automatic bank feeds have fundamentally changed the role of accounts receivable officers who now have additional hours (not minutes) in the day to call debtors etc. Use the additional time wisely
- team performance and skills
What does you team look like? No, I’m not talking external beauty. I’m talking about the skills, qualifications, experience and length of service they have and how that helps your business. Do those thing match what you need in your business? Can you be successful with their current knowledge and skills? Also, do your employees like working with you and how many employees leave your business in a year. Businesses with high turnover (like some call centres or delivery jobs) need to plan for additional recruitment.
- client expectations
Are your clients or their expectations changing? What do you need to do to ensure the clients are satisfied with your work?
Once we have the answers to these questions we can start to plan so your business is always ahead of the competition, with the right number of skilled people to have your clients singing your praises. It might mean a focus on recruitment or training or a change to how we pay people, but it will make certain that the focus is where it needs to be instead of playing catch-up after something has gone wrong.
The start of a new year can be a strange time in a SME. For some it is the busiest time of year and for others it is slow as we wait for people to make decisions in the post- Christmas lull. Regardless of what it is like for your business, it is a great opportunity to look with fresh eyes at what positions and skills are needed in your business for it to thrive.
If you would like help to Workforce Plan for your business call us now, or send us an email. We would love to support you through this important process.
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