Business needs to improve strategic workforce planning, research finds

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UK businesses looking to improve performance and manage future challenges need to improve their strategic workforce planning, according to a poll by the Corporate Research Forum and KPMG.

The research found that although workforce planning was actively used in organisations, it was not linked to the overall strategic business plan. Only 15% of organisations surveyed said there was a clear link.

Businesses also said they tend to react to workforce challenges rather than plan for them. Almost half (47%) of those surveyed said that recruitment forecasts for the next 12 months have not been undertaken in their organisations.

“Adopting a strategic approach to workforce planning will leave organisations better prepared to deal with a dynamic and fast-changing environment,” Corporate Research Forum director Mike Haffenden said.

“In today‘s world of ever-increasing complexity, it is even more important to prepare for an uncertain future armed with a flexible plan, rather than simply reacting to unforeseen events,” he added.

The research also reveals that HR departments aren’t segmenting workforces thoroughly enough. This leads to taking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to assessment, management and appraisal, which can be detrimental to the long-term performance of a business.

KPMG associate partner David Knight believes one of the biggest issues that business will face in the coming years is the management of human capital.

“Workforce planning is now seen as critical to sustaining performance and growth, and the responsibility for this lies not only with HR directors, but with the wider executive team.

“Poor planning can make it difficult to adapt to changing market conditions, as well as retain talent in competitive industries. The ability to forecast skills requirements, pre-empt workforce risks and deploy resources efficiently will underpin financial success for organisations in future.”

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