HR Management

6 Steps to Creating a Small Business Staffing Plan

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A staffing plan represents a strategic planning process that a company uses to determine and fulfill its personnel needs. It’s essentially an HR department asking itself, “What kind of staff will my company need over the next year or so, and how are we going to meet those requirements?” It’s not only about adding to or modifying the headcount, it’s about identifying the skill sets and experience that a company will need over that time.

People often refer to HR as the “people department,” where human issues and conflicts are resolved, but formulating and executing a staffing plan requires a rigorous policy—and a process-driven approach that takes into account an organization’s short- and long-term goals as well as the ever-changing landscape of hiring best practices. Some 43% of HR professionals see human capital as the biggest investment challenge facing employers.

Why Create a Staffing Plan?

Broadly speaking, staffing plans are used during company budget cycles to help with cost allocation. However, they’re also implemented every time there is an organizational expansion or overhaul. It’s even more important for small businesses, where a single employee represents a significant percentage of the total workforce. A strategic evaluation can help them identify the perfect team size to achieve their goals.

Additionally, a staffing plan can help your company:

  • Eliminate skill gaps
  • Improve productivity
  • Reduce labor costs
  • Improve ROI on labor costs
  • Increase employee engagement and retention
  • Contribute to business growth

What to Include in Your Staffing Plan?

A staffing plan is a multi-layered program that approaches personnel strategy from multiple angles. It includes elements such as:

  • An assessment of personnel required
  • Time and placement of said personnel
  • Job titles and professional remit
  • Indication of the proportion of permanent versus temporary staff
  • Investments into corporate training
  • Succession planning
  • Cost and budget allocations

Steps to Creating a Staffing Plan

1.  Evaluate Business Goals

The first step to creating a staffing plan is to identify the objectives and how they tie into the overarching goals of the organization. Establishing a clear understanding of expected outcomes helps you in a number of ways. To begin with, it gives you and your HR department a clear reference point to judge progress throughout the process. It’s also a good opportunity to build organizational and leadership consensus on the directions and strategic initiatives for the upcoming year.

HR’s job is to identify the major projects that different departments will undertake and how they can support these departments from a staffing standpoint. For instance, you may need more analysts to alleviate the workload on your current employees, or your customer service team may need more support agents to handle increased call volume. Understanding the exact skills needed is a good way to ensure you’re hiring the best staff.

2.  Identify Influencers

Try and identify any factors that might impact your staffing plan. These can be internal or external to the company, positive or negative. If you have a planned expansion or merger in the coming year, it will have a direct impact on your hiring processes.

External factors can include things like changing regulations and a shortfall of particular professional skills in the labor market. A comprehensive brainstorming session with your company leadership can help you outline all the influencing factors you’re likely to encounter over the year.

3.  Determine the Current State of Staffing

Before you start adding to your headcount, you need an understanding of how your various departments are placed in terms of personnel. How many full-time and part-time staff members does each function have? How does each department go about fulfilling its staff needs? Do they rely on in-house members, contractors, or seasonal personnel?

You would also do well to analyze departmental productivity and their ability to meet goals. If a particular department is falling short, you should consider running an analysis to see if it’s due to a personnel problem or is there a shortfall of resources and the right technology. Sometimes, instituting effective learning and talent management programs can go a long way towards improving employee engagement and performance.

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4.  Forecast Future Needs

Once you have a handle on the current state of staffing, you should start establishing firm targets for hiring more employees. This is called a gap analysis. You’ll need to account for not just past trends but projected changes in each department. For instance, your customer department may predict variable call volumes in the year ahead, owing to planned product launches. This will require you to institute a flexible hiring policy with a mix of permanent and temporary staff which can scale depending on what the department needs.

Make a note of specialized expertise you might need, such as that of lawyers or technologists. Sourcing this kind of expertise usually eats up a large chunk of your budget. Planning can ensure you have the competencies you need at hand when you need them.

5.  Outline Your Technology Investments

Plan beforehand what kind of systems and personnel technology you want to invest in. It’s important for smaller enterprises to not underestimate the utility of this exercise. Even if you’re able to list all your employees and payroll processes on an excel sheet, buying into payroll automation software can save you a bundle in employee time and cross-functional efficiency.

Businesses involved in sensitive spaces may also want to consider investments in security technology or personnel, such as CCTV cameras or security guards.

6. Create A Solution Plan

Once you’ve gone through the previous steps, you should put together an action plan to achieve the targets you’ve set. Ask yourself, “Where exactly will the employees we need come from?” You don’t necessarily need to hire all the people you need in-house. You can choose to outsource functions like marketing and see significant cost savings from not having permanent staff on board all year.

Don’t try and limit your recruitment drive to run-of-the-mill applicant pools either. Consider approaching candidates from underrepresented communities or empowerment zones. Incidentally, this could make you eligible for the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit as well.

Consider that U.S. talent shortages at the moment are at a 10-year high. More than 69% of companies are struggling to fill the positions they need. Planning your staffing function is now more important than ever. Systematic execution of your staffing plan can ensure you have the talent you need to fuel growth and outperform your competitors in a dynamic marketplace.

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