Thursday, 07 October 2021 22:33

How's Your Workforce Planning?

Earlier this year we held a series of seminars with the theme Workforce Planning. Despite the events being free to attend, uptake of places on the seminars would probably best be described as moderate.

Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed uproar over the lack of HGV drivers in the country, culminating in fuel shortages and some violent confrontations amongst people queueing for petrol and diesel at garage forecourts. Just this week, some farmers have warned that livestock won’t make it to supermarket shelves owing to a lack of butchers.

Prior to that, we saw reports of businesses in the hospitality and care sectors struggling to recruit staff, with some care homes handing out “golden hellos” in an effort to encourage workers to join them.

Whilst many have been quick to point the finger of blame on these shortages on the usual suspects such as Brexit, some responsibility must be taken by the industries and businesses themselves for their failure to plan their workforces. Brexit, with a helping hand from Covid, may very well have been behind an exodus of cheap labour but it’s the failure to plan that has left us in the position we now find ourselves in.

Did any of those employers of foreign workers even ask their employees what they planned to do should the UK leave the EU? If they had, perhaps they could have done something about it. Let’s face it, the Brexit vote was over five years ago in June 2016. That ought to be long enough to implement some workforce planning; to at least make an educated guess as to what your skills shortages will be a few years down the line.

Concerns over skills shortages and increased competition in the skills marketplace had become apparent before Covid took hold. The effects of the pandemic have intensified the issues as some employees re-evaluate their own work-life balances and longer-term life goals, leading to many changing career paths or reducing the hours that they work.

In an ideal world, we should be talking about workforce planning in terms of sustainable business goals and a growth strategy. In the current climate however, it may be more appropriate to talk about it as a survival plan.

Where competition between business is usually about market share, today it seems it’s more about talent acquisition and retention. Anticipating the organisation’s workforce needs and having a proactive recruitment plan is only part of the battle. Now, working from home and hybrid workspaces are new concepts for employers to factor in, as is the corporate approach to sustainability.

Effective workforce planning should now more than ever be seen as a vital business process that aligns the changing organisational needs with the right people resources, incorporating appropriate training plans, to deliver the wider business ambition.

The concept of workforce planning may have shifted to a more short term contingency for some industries but we shouldn’t overlook the broader theory if we’re to avoid more businesses struggling to recruit in the future.

  • Understand the skills marketplace now and in the future. – Know what the local community and demographic has to offer and question how political and social trends might affect skills availability . Can remote workers fill some of the gap thereby expanding the potential talent pool to global proportions.
  • An honest assessment of the current business and workforce – An honest and realistic evaluation of existing worker potential and likely attrition rates can be difficult but is necessary. Understand why people leave or why they may leave in the future.
  • Supply and Demand - Employees might leave if they don’t feel their skills are optimised; a signal that your future skills supply may already exist in your current workforce. Sometimes a sideways move or redeployment can be a way of retaining talent in readiness for an increase in demand.
  • Planning the timeline – Being able to predict when your skills needs will arise gives you the opportunity to do something about it. Speak to the local colleges and universities and influence them to run the courses to provide the skills you’ll need in 2, 3 and 5 years. Consider apprenticeship schemes and talk to the local LEP about how they can influence skills.
  • Constant review – We’re currently seeing a shortage that should have been predictable but some plans can be thrown into disarray almost overnight. Your business plan might constantly shift and change in line with economic influences so your workforce plan must do the same. Don’t be afraid to fail quickly and pivot as necessary.

As we’ve said already, some individuals are choosing to re-skill post Covid and this creates an opportunity for business to influence what shape that re-skilling might take. This can’t be achieved however without a workforce plan.

If you would be interested in attending a Workforce Planning Seminar later this year then please drop us an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us know. If we get enough interest we’ll schedule one in.

In the meantime, if you require any help and support with your current planning, recruitment or other people issues, call us on 01452 331331 or drop us an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 813 times Last modified on Thursday, 07 October 2021 22:38


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  





We are located in Gloucester in the West of the UK close to the M4 and M5 corridors. For a precise map and directions find us on Google Maps

We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.