Talent planning for any economy

Are we headed into a recession? It depends on who you listen to. Some economists are predicting a ‘whopper’ of a recession in 2023. Others are expecting a slightly positive economic growth rate. At this point, it’s really anybody’s guess.

I am cautiously optimistic. Many of our clients are hiring for growth. Others are replacing team members for a multitude of reasons including: staff lost in the Great Reshuffle to higher-paying jobs in response to inflation, employees leaving for more work-life balance to all-remote or hybrid positions or just upgrading team members because business is good and they can afford to make the change.

What’s your outlook for 2023? Do you anticipate hiring and training new staff, or will things slow down so much that you might need to lay off people? And does it really matter?

Here’s the reality. Whether you are in a super-hot labor market or facing a market turndown, the same strategy applies. It’s called workforce planning and it is key to operational efficiency, and employee satisfaction and retention.

Let’s take a closer look at the fundamentals of workforce planning. There are three core elements: job descriptions, cross training and redistribution of work.

1. Job descriptions

It’s one thing to have job descriptions in place. It’s quite another to analyze the functions your team members are actually performing. Inevitably, you’ll find out that the person in one department is handling a task that belongs in another and vice versa. It’s natural for this to happen; it’s part of the ebb and flow of business. It’s the not knowing that can be harmful.

Let’s say there is an economic downturn, and you identify a position to eliminate that makes the most sense financially. Then you discover the individual in that position is handling an important function that no one else can do. If you let that person go, you have a major problem.

2. Cross training

We’re not just talking about answering the phones or running the copy machine. Training each person to handle multiple functions within a department ensures that the work continues when someone is on vacation, takes a family leave, or unexpectedly quits for another opportunity.

Cross training makes your company more agile. It also empowers employees to use their talents, builds their skills and keeps them motivated.

3. Redistribution of work

Knowing where and how the work is being performed frees you to rethink the status quo. You may have one department that is overwhelmed, and another that has capacity. Shifting the labor is good for efficiency. It can also enhance company culture, relieving the stress of overworked employees and adding to the fulfillment of employees who were underutilized. Work redistribution fosters teamwork, understanding and empathy.

Here are a few more thoughts about talent planning.

First, don’t wait until you’re in a crisis. It’s impossible to make unbiased people decisions when you are grappling with revenue worries, client issues and concerns about the economy.

Next, don’t overlook the power of technology to free up team members to focus on high-value tasks like creative and critical thinking, coaching others and developing new strategies.

Finally, consider focusing on your core competency and outsourcing functions like accounting, HR and marketing.  Doing so can free you from managing these functions day to day, reduce overhead, and bring you more experienced and reliable talent.

When it comes to talent planning, you don’t have to go it alone. An HR advisor like NEMR Total HR can guide you on best practices and offer support with job descriptions, recruitment, separation and more. Email us or chat with us here.