Workforce Planning: Part 3 – Identifying Potential Gaps

6 mins read

This article is written to provide you with the understanding of the importance of identifying potential gaps within a workforce when developing a company’s workforce plan.

In part 2 of this series, we discussed why setting a strategic direction and establishing SMART goals is important to complete before tackling your company’s workforce plan. In this article, we are going to discuss the second manageable step to take to develop an effective workforce plan, which is identifying potential gaps.

With the first manageable steps completed, it’s time to continue on with the workforce planning process. Before we move forward, please keep in mind that just because you have a plan in place does not mean that you are in the clear from potentially encountering setbacks! However, do not let this intimidate you!

As we continue our series, we would like to remind you to take your time with each step and that you are not in it alone! Seek feedback and involve others, as the success of your business not only affects you, but everyone else who is employed by it.

Step 2: Identifying Potential Gaps in the Workforce

During this step, we recommend dedicating time mapping out any potential gaps that are existing in your current workforce. By mapping out the potential gaps, you increase awareness of what is going on and reducing the risks of encountering future obstacles that may inhibit your business from achieving its desired outcomes. This is generally accomplished by conducting an analysis on your existing workforce’s responsibilities and activities.

During this analysis, it is important to base your businesses needs on solid evidence, not assumptions when identifying the workforce’s potential gaps. It is crucial to this process to be as accurate as possible when evaluating your business’s current standing with where it needs to be for future planning. One way you can accomplish this is by conducting a SWOT analysis.

SWOT analysis is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats; each element helps make businesses more aware of the current status of their company and helps plan for the future.

SWOT analyses are used for various business reasons and are considered to be a beneficial practice for any business to complete. The reason it is considered beneficial is that it provides businesses with a snapshot and the details it may need in order to make proactive and accurate decisions, which for the purpose of this article series, relates to workforce planning.

When conducting an analysis, remember to involve others to help determine what workforce plans may be required. Begin asking questions like:

    • What is currently working? What is missing?
    • What staffing requirements are needed for the upcoming year, 3 years, or even 5 years?
    • What internal/external factors could impact the businesses due to talent availability?
    • Does the business have enough coverage until an employee returns or someone new is hired?
    • What does the hiring pool look like for my business’s industry or geographical location?
    • What is the cost of acquiring additional staff?

These are general questions you can ask to assist you with identifying potential gaps within your workforce for future planning, especially in circumstances where your business may be expanding into a new market, supplying new products or services, or planning on increasing production and revenue where additional staff may be required to fill those gaps identified.

How it Works: The (S) strengths identified demonstrates what is currently working and the (W) weaknesses identified outline what is not working or what is missing. When analyzing the weaknesses, you may need to consider finding solutions (O) opportunities for the areas that were identified to be improved on. To conclude this analysis, identify the potential (T) threats, which are situations that can potentially cause problems or aggravate existing ones (i.e., being overstaffed or understaffed).

It is important to remember that the purpose of workforce planning is to align your recruitment and talent management processes for the businesses desired outcomes. By identifying potential workforce gaps, you remain cognizant of what is going on in your business, which allows you to be proactive by planning ahead and finding solutions, instead of being reactive and hoping for the best.

For more information and a SWOT Analysis template, please see our article Introduction to SWOT Analysis.

Now that you understand why it is important to identifying potential gaps in your workforce, stay tuned for part 4 of this series when we discuss the third manageable step to take to make sure your strategic workforce plan is effective, which is Conducting a Gap Analysis.

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