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Effective workforce planning for business success

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This month, experts from Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) share the two key levels behind successful workforce planning – strategic workforce planning and operational workforce planning.

Organisations today face tremendous pressure to transform rapidly due to both external and internal factors. Rapid technology development and automation of processes have resulted in jobs being disrupted and are challenging our traditional notion of jobs.

In addition, the effects of an ageing population and a growing mismatch between skills and jobs can also be felt across all industries. Likewise, technology and digitisation are also propelling the rise of the new gig economy and changing the way we work.

Effective workforce planning enables an organisation to build a strong talent pipeline to ensure the right number of employees with the right skills are deployed in the right place at the right time. This also reduces job losses due to skills obsolescence as well as minimises the time and cost spent on replacing employees and training new ones.

Workforce planning is necessarily done at two levels:

1. Strategic workforce planning which takes a long-term view and forecasts critical roles that the organisations will need in the future. This requires organisations to proactively scan the external environment to take into account the business cycle and other factors which will impact their businesses.

In addition, organisations also need to examine their employees’ career life cycles to determine when to recruit and train as well as how to deploy, develop, and retain them.

2. Operational workforce planning which factors in short-term demands of the business and considers the current talent supply to determine whether additional manpower is needed. This requires organisations to identify existing skills and competencies in relation to current business needs to ensure smooth business operations.

A useful first step would be for employers to re-look at their hiring guidelines in light of the technological changes and disruptions. The traditional approach of screening candidates based on their experience in the same industry may no longer be the best approach. Instead, job advertisements and selection criteria should be based on relevant competencies and skills, regardless of industry.

Employers need to put in place an infrastructure that allows existing employees to acquire relevant skills throughout their career. They should also take a longer term view of developing their human capital for skills needed in the future, not just in the present.

Similarly, employees themselves need to take ownership to plan for their own career and have an open mind towards lifelong learning. It’s never too early to start preparing your workforce for changes ahead of time.

By keeping an eye on the future and reviewing your current work processes, HR can value-add to the business and contribute more strategically.


TAFEP holds regular workshops to help employers and HR professionals keep abreast of HR best practices. Visit www.tafep.sg to find out more.

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