Any business’s real strength lies in its employees: the people whose skill sets come together to get work done and make success possible. Goals, objectives, planning and organization are all critical, but when it comes down to it, a business will not succeed without the right people in the right places. Manpower planning is an incredibly important piece of human resources strategy and is key to being sure projects move forward.
Manpower planning is, at its heart, the act of matching the right employees to their ideal roles at the right time. Getting the right employees means evaluating valuable skill sets and knowledge bases to ensure the individuals can, in fact, do the tasks and work expected of them. It is understanding when certain experience is required, which certifications or degrees will help drive success and what attitudes will help develop the expected business culture. This means HR needs to be able to envision the kind of work to be done in each relevant department and then convert that into a set of specifics to look for when hiring.
These employees then need to be placed in the right positions at the right time for the work going on. HR needs to ensure that roles and departments are properly staffed; this requires HR to envision the workload, then estimate the number of people who will be able to complete these tasks within the desired timeline. For obvious reasons, the company can not hire infinite employees, so this means balancing the desired output with the cost of manpower. These employees then need to be integrated into the workplace and ready to work together as a team to complete projects as they come down the pipeline.
Keep in mind that in the future, the term "manpower planning" will likely be phased out, in favor of the more contemporary term "workforce planning". The latter is a much more inclusive term that does not isolate specific groups of employees based upon gender or sex.
This also defines the difference between human resources and Human Resources. In this context, human resources are the actual people employed by the company that are available to complete work; they are resources that happen to be human. Human Resources, the department, is the team of workers responsible for HR work like employee management, recruiting, training and development.
The importance of manpower in an organization cannot be overstated. This may seem like a lot of work for something that seems like it should be simple: hiring people with the right backgrounds and putting them to work. But good planning is important because hiring mistakes can be incredibly costly to fix, both in time and money. Some of the advantages of proper manpower planning include:
- Lower spending on labor costs for the company, because employees are more capable of completing their jobs. The company can then spend the saved money in other areas.
- A better recruitment process that is clearly defined, efficient and works well to bring in top talent; this makes it easier to match the right candidate with the right role.
- Increased productivity, as employees are matched with work they are likely to be successful at. Training would also be better focused to help employees complete their assigned work.
- Better employee motivation, since the system will be designed to reward employees performing at their best from the start.
- Improved teamwork, collaboration and cooperation between individuals and departments, with the right temperaments and attitudes included in the recruitment process to create a better corporate culture.
With this all in mind, the need for upfront planning within any organization seems obvious. As businesses are expected to grow rather than stagnate, this also means reevaluating the company’s human resources periodically, capturing shifts in the needs and gaps and evolving the recruitment, and training and incentive processes to meet not just current but future needs. Understanding future human needs means HR has to be connected to the overall business strategy, with an understanding of the type and amount of work that will need to be undertaken to meet these future goals.
In order for Human Resources to be able to plan and execute a manpower strategy, there are certain steps that need to be taken in the process of manpower planning.
First, reevaluate the current human resources that are available. Management should conduct a survey to get a clear picture of the departments that make up the company structure and the number of employees in each department. This also means gaining an understanding of the purpose and workload for each department, and whether historical data shows the department is understaffed (struggling to meet deadlines) or overstaffed (high budget without a matching output).
In specific cases, it should also involve developing an idea of the available skill sets of employees in the department; this helps determine whether new needs will require new hires or can be covered by training and development of current employees.
Next, estimate the future human needs of the business. Sometimes this is easy based on the previous history of the company and an understanding of the trajectory. HR and management can complete an analysis of their workforce, workload and expectations, and use trends to predict future needs. There are forecasting techniques and models that can be used in cases where the company is considering a major change in direction or objectives.
From here, the business should have an understanding of how many additional employees will be needed, what skill sets they need to obtain and what the budget is for these employees. HR uses this to develop an effective recruitment and selection process and then executes the strategy to bring in the needed talent at appropriate levels.
Hiring is not the endpoint of this process. The final step is developing and assigning employee training to both new and existing employees. Since no single employee will be a perfect fit, trainings step in to fill the gaps, and development plans help existing employees evolve to meet future needs. Ongoing and consistent job training and development is the only way to curate an environment where employees can, in fact, become a perfect fit for their position and responsibilities.
Despite best intentions, there are times where a company simply can not increase headcount on demand: budgetary reasons, strategic reasons, a lack of appropriate talent in the recruitment pool, etc. In these cases, HR’s approach should be reevaluating the current manpower situation available and reorganizing it to be more effective.
The first two steps remain the same as the strategy listed above; from there, the focus should be on identifying places where headcounts could be effectively moved, or where individuals could be asked to pick up certain tasks. It should also involve training and development opportunities with incentives that compensate for the additional work employees will be asked to do. In this light, it is also advantageous to spend time looking at current workloads and evaluating whether there are overvalued tasks that can be trimmed down or cut to make room for the new work.
Proper manpower planning is the key to organizational strategy. No matter the work to be done, or the product or service that makes the money, it is down to the people in their positions to get that work done. A business’ success hinges on its ability to get the right people into the right place at the right time. It is a process that is worth approaching strategically and carefully, and the results will be seen in the company’s performance.