Strategic planning, also known as Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP), is now a firm part of company priorities for most businesses. That is a fact confirmed by Massimo Begelle, Country Manager Italy for Top Employers Institute, which deals with certifying company excellence in the HR area: strategic planning of human resources «is absolutely the topic trend that companies are focusing on most, and is constantly in first place, followed by careers and successions, talent strategy and leadership development».
However, this does not mean that all companies have the tools and techniques for efficient human resource strategic management: as Begelle himself stated, «only 26% of certified companies set up a constant, monitored analysis of the current skills in the company and the mid-term requirements». On the one hand, however, there is the belief that strategic planning is an absolute priority; on the other hand, the rapid transformation of the job market makes rethinking traditional techniques absolutely essential.
Strategic planning, yesterday and today
Strategic workforce planning has been talked about for many years. The first references date back to the beginning of the last century. The actual presentation of this activity took place in 1954, however, the year in which the Austrian, naturalized American economist, Peter Drucker defined SWP in his book Practice of Management. Since then, the setting has changed a great deal. Especially in recent years, this subject has had to adapt to several important transformation, with the elimination of several reference points which were once upon a time firm and secure. For example, if we think of multinationals, that are required to manage completely different situations at the same time, possibly having to address a workforce shortage in one country and staff cuts in another.
Towards a long-term vision
Faced with the impossible situation of creating a single vision for the future, companies often tend to focus on the immediate future instead. In this way, even when declaring that strategic planning is a priority, they concentrate instead on the short term, and thus renounce strategic planning of human resources. By using strategic workforce planning tools, however, it is possible to overcome the most common obstacles that company have to face, and obtain advantages such a effective connection between staff and company, to continue with staff activity and shift management in a simple manner, and to have the possibility of keeping employee activity under control.
With a real forecast of short and long term needs, it is also possible to overcome pure last-minute staff recruitment, by cultivating a virtuous talent acquisition and employer branding policy. The employees’ needs must not be overshadowed, however. With the right platforms, it becomes possible to actually take workers career ambitions into consideration, integrating them into the human resource strategic policy.
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