Your employees are arguably your company's most important asset. They provide the face that your business projects to its customers, and they will come through for you in emergencies and in the face of opportunities as long as you give them good reason to be loyal. However, your company's human resources need to be fostered and cultivated if they are to bring your business the greatest possible advantage.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
The advantages of human resource planning hinge on the importance of building skills and retaining talent. The disadvantages of workforce planning include the time and expense you'll dedicate to extra training.
Advantages of Human Resource Planning
- Building skills. Human resource planning helps your staff to do their jobs better. If you invest in providing the training and education necessary to build skills and increase capacity, your company will be able to achieve more high-quality work with the people you currently have on staff rather than having to rely on outside contractors.
- Increasing retention. If you show your employees that you value them enough to invest time and resources in giving them the tools they need to grow, they're more likely to stay with your company over time. Not only will you make their jobs more interesting, but you will also show them that you value their work and their tenure.
- Predictability. Your business faces enough day-to-day uncertainties from market conditions, the economic climate and supply-chain issues. Devoting thought and planning to giving your employees what they need to do a good job and stay with your company over time lessens some of these inevitable uncertainties by providing an extra degree of certainty in scheduling, staffing and handling your ongoing workload.
Disadvantages of Human Resource Planning
- Expense. It costs money to train and invest in your staff. Whether you're paying for dedicated training or diverting employee hours from tasks that are more likely to directly increase your incoming revenue, human resource planning may likely decrease your bottom line in the short term before it increases your profits in the long term.
- Unpredictability. Although human resource planning has the potential to give your business a greater degree of stability by building the skills of your workforce, there is no guarantee that the workers you train will stay with your company long enough for you to reap the benefits of your investment.
- Illusion of certainty. While human resource planning can make your workforce better able to do their jobs, you may be training personnel to perform functions that become obsolete as your company and your industry evolve. This can give you a false sense of security and may prevent you from reacting quickly enough to developments.
Leveraging Advantages, Mitigating Disadvantages
The pros and cons of human resource management often come down to how well you implement your training programs and how effectively you manage your expectations. Management and planning are certainly important, but formal programs cannot take the place of genuine engagement and goodwill. Your human resource planning shouldn't be a stand-alone effort but rather part of a bigger-picture strategy that improves engagement and builds a strong workplace culture.
Choose your training programs carefully. Make sure they are appropriate for the resources you are able to invest and the effort your employees can be expected to make relative to their job descriptions. If you pay minimum wage, it is unreasonable to expect your staff to practice or read on their own time. Similarly, if you employ trained medical professionals, it doesn't make sense to train them in basic hygiene.
Combine human resources training with clear messages about what you can and cannot expect from these efforts. Training and education can make your staff more effective in some areas, but they can't be substitutes for resourcefulness and adaptability.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.