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How to Approach Human Resource Planning

“Our assets walk out of the door each evening. We have to make sure they come back the next morning.” – Narayana Murthy.

Established in 1981, Infosys is a NYSE listed global consulting and IT services company with more than 200,000 employees. In its journey of over 35 years, Infosys has catalysed some of the major changes that have led to India’s emergence as the global destination for software services talent. Their employee stock options program created some of India’s first salaried millionaires. Do you think this would have been possible without keeping manpower planning at the center of business strategy? Unlikely.

Given the rate at which the business world is changing today, there is a strong need for companies to constantly innovate and keep an eye on the environment in which it functions. The banking & fintech industry, for example, took a new leap overnight after de-monitisation. With newer technologies replacing a company’s headcount, less will mean more. Many skills will become outdated, there will be a demand for specific skills and it’s not news that the talent pool is already drastically shrunk.

Business plans of some of the most capable CEOs are put to test as staffing strategy gains as much importance as rest of the business strategy. Almost all business leaders I meet these days talk about their struggle in having the right skill and attitude at the right place and at the right time. While most are interested in plugging the gap and moving on, some understand that simply plugging the hole may be a temporary solution. The most challenging task of managing a company is the management of its rarest asset – its people.

Unlike some of the other business assets, if managed well, the human assets of your company have the potential to constantly appreciate and yield multi-fold returns. All it takes is for the leadership team to integrate the human resource strategy in the business strategy.

What makes manpower planning difficult

In reality however, there is so much pressure to deliver daily results that there is very little time to plan and almost no time to ‘spare’ the employees for re-oiling their skills or to develop newer capabilities. The result is that the human resource machinery of the company is unable to function efficiently. This is because the people who are integral to this machinery are either over worked or need to be strengthened or are ‘stuck’ because they were not looked after at the right time.

To add to the problem, somewhere the human element tends to get lost in day to day operations or in numbers. Ask any business leader to organise trainings on a week day and you are most likely going to receive a frown. Why just training, even performance appraisals take a back seat due to urgent business requirements.

So, in all this, where do we really start planning for the human assets to gain a win-win for business and people. There is no straight answer to this. Most successful companies seem to have woven the human fabric in their day-to day work, making it difficult to find a single formula which can be taken up as a best practice. And yes!…a lot also depends on the business leader as there will be some trade off in this process in the short term.

6 Steps of manpower planning

Manpower planning is a critical step in project management in order to meet a specific goal. It involves projecting number of people required for specific tasks, keeping in mind – talent availability, understanding skill requirement for the project, accounting for re-skilling, fatigue or attrition. It also involves looking at current talent inventory and mapping it against the projections and developing strategies to bridge the gap.

Here are few simple steps that can help you in manpower planning:

1. Create a skill bank

Keeping view of your goals, create a skill bank of desired skills across roles. This then becomes your future talent pipeline requirement.

2. Conduct a skill audit

Review skills currently available in the company and benchmark desired skill level across roles. This becomes your current talent pipeline.

3. Analyse the gaps

Identify the gap between your current and future talent pipeline, both in terms of number of employees and skill needs.

4. Develop a recruitment strategy

Develop a strong recruitment strategy to attract the right talent pool.

5. Create training & development agenda

Through a scientific approach, identify if the skills needed can be developed internally. If yes, then the next step would be to create a talent development strategy and get people excited to be a part of the talent development programme.

6. Maintain the ‘human factor’

In all the hussle-bussle, we should take care to ensure that the human element is retained. The overall manpower planning process must be supported by a value system, enabling policies and a conducive work environment.

Manpower planning ultimately needs to be integrated into key human resource processes such as – recruitment, training and development, and performance management. One must also keep in mind the reason why the company is engaging in the activity of manpower planning in the first place. For example, a startup would do it as part of its business plan, a company that is rapidly expanding would do it to maintain stability, a company may need to do it to manage change or in order to keep pace with newer technologies or innovations, or a company undergoing a merger or acquisition will have different reasons to engage in manpower planning, and so on. It could also vary depending on the size of the business or the environment in which the business may be operating.

Through an accurate manpower planning activity, you can overcome some of the most pressing business challenges such as – change management, under-utilisation of resources, controlling manpower cost, lack of relevant skills, and last but not the least optimising the functioning of your human resources department.

Employees appreciate companies which invest in them. They look forward to coming back to work through that gate the next day and give their best.


If you want to create a work place where people feel valued and strive to deliver their best, reach out to us –

Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.

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How to Approach Human Resource Planning
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Published on:  February 1, 2018

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