Despite such disparaging numbers in companies with an adequate succession plan, one study found a whopping 92% of companies have some level of workforce planning; however, only 21% have put thought into a strategic, long-term approach to closing the supply and-demand of the talent gap. If distinguished employees are going to be crucial to a succession program, then it is axiomatic that a good workforce plan is in place. Even if a company already has a workforce plan in progress, it’s a good idea to objectively review the system, and find ways in which it may be improved.

1. Have a Set, Clear View of the Business Strategy. Ultimately, the workforce exists to implement that business strategy, so if it is unclear, the workforce cannot possibly work at its fullest capacity. Elements of a business strategy that should be looked at are areas that should grow, areas that should be more profitable, and areas that should be abandoned. What these changes will do to the current and future state of the business, and how far and fast the changes can be implemented, should also be considered.

2. Take into Account Labour Market Factors . By identifying current labour trends, businesses can project and understand how long it will take to fill a certain role. These factors include macroeconomic forecasts, demographic trends, regulatory changes, and the particular talent movement within the singular industry.

3. Identify and Anticipate Future Talent Demands. Once a company has translated a business strategy into operational requirements, designing the jobs and organising them accordingly should follow. The most important things to remember are focusing only on the essentials and designating the critical roles and employee segments necessary to accomplish every aspect of the workforce strategy.

4. Identify Any Talent Gaps and Form a Strategy to Close Them. There are typically four options to consider when filling these gaps:
•Develop existing internal talent.
•Transfer talent that may not fit in one role into another that they might be more qualified to perform.
•Move talent out of the company altogether.
•Recruit outside talent, or obtain temporary outside labour.

5. Implement the Plan.  Once implemented, workforce planning should be an ongoing process concurrent with succession planning. It needs to be backed by the top-level executives in the company and taken in manageable stages. Also, tracking progress as the program continues helps ensure improvement is being made, and that the course will be kept. Clearly, there can be no succession without effective workforce planning.

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