Manpower planning is a strategic function of the manager in the company. Generally speaking, the classic functions of the manager are fivefold: planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating and controlling. These functions enable the company to achieve its objectivities.
Peter Drucker, the modern management guru elaborated on these functions. He said the manager sets objectives, organizes, motivates and communicates, measures, and develops people.
The planning and staffing functions of the manager are the strategic anchor for manpower planning.
In planning, the manager implements strategy and processes that make the company functions smoothly. This involves setting goals and marshalling resources to accomplish them. Without plan, companies fail.
In staffing, the manager executes recruitment and selection and employees maintenance in the company. This includes attracting, hiring, selecting and retaining the right people for the right jobs at all times. These employees are maintained through training and development, performance appraisals, equitable remunerations and career management.
The planning and staffing functions are linked to the business of managing people for effectiveness in the company. When running a business, people are the most important among the primary resources namely land, capital, entrepreneurship and knowledge required in the process of production to generate goods and services.
The company will lose its competitiveness in the market, if people are not properly planned or mismanaged. In today’s economy, planning and implementing a structured plan at strategic and organizational levels is the driver of employee effectiveness and resources maximization. This process of envisioning, designing, structuring and organizing people is known in Human Resources Management as Manpower Planning, otherwise called Workforce Planning or Human Resource Planning.
Manpower Planning has been said to be “concerned with human activity directed towards a particular economic purpose. It aims to provide an enterprise with the right number of employees, possessing the right types and degree of skills, in the right job, at the right time, performing the right activities to achieve the right objectives”.
There are works to be done in the company to enable it meet its set objectives. It is the employees who are hired and assigned to do these works. The process of attracting and getting people to do these works require a system of inter-related actions to put the right number of people to available works. It also makes provision for the future works in anticipation of growth in quantity or quality. The company has a chance to compete in the future when this happens.
Therefore, Manpower Planning is the systematic process of envisioning, identifying, acquiring, developing and retaining the right skilled employees to meet current and future business needs of the company. This is an integral part of the planning and staffing functions of the manager.
The manager engages the executive leadership and all employees through strategic planning, communication and collaboration to carry out Manpower Planning. When a company does not plan its manning resources, its recruitment and selection strategy will be faulty. The outcome is that such company is either understaffed or overstaffed. And, its labour costs will increase.
Planning Manpower requires a lot of work, concerted efforts, collaborations but it is worth the investment in money, time, resources utilization and agenda setting.
Manpower planning is the basis for recruitment and selection strategy. It facilities smooth implementation of attracting, hiring and placement of people in different job functions. Recruitment and selection cannot be effective without a plan of adequacy for manpower in the company.
Manpower Planning identifies shortages and surpluses in human resources distribution. It manages attendant gaps to ensure that the company has the adequate manpower to cope with current workload and make provision for expansion in the future without service disruptions or business failure.
It is easier to carry out recruitment and selection, and labour costs are well managed with Manpower Planning. There will not be a case of understaffing, underemployment, overstaffing or overwork. If any of such exists, the plan will throw it up. Manpower planning has the capability to demonstrate the skill levels of employees for available works and present a clear justification and paths for future growth.
Manpower Planning assists the company to handle growth and prepares its employees through talents management for future work requirements. The operating environment changes always: technology introduces new ways of doing business in the workplace. Certain job functions may be rendered obsolete by technology; some will become merged. It is Manpower Planning that predicts the career paths for the different jobs, and determines the points of convergence for sustainability.
Furthermore, the company is able to build a resource of talented knowledge employees with the right skill sets to manage the future work of the company through Manpower Planning through flow of skill improvements and work diversification. It pinpoints careers with multitasking capabilities for future response to technology and innovation in the workplace. It throws up dead-end careers and predicts engagement routes to avoid resource wastage.
Manpower Planning makes the company’s manning level fairly predictable, stable and people management less cumbersome. What gets measured, get done. Manpower planning serves an integral part of the strategic plan of the company that wants to retain its competitive advantage in the market.
As an important function of the manager, it serves as a motivation tool in Human Resource Management to drive down labour costs, improve effectiveness in recruitment and selection and engender efficient utilization of employees. It can also lead to improved interpersonal relationship among workers who will be focused on job performance thereby resulting in higher productivity for the company.
How does the manager implement an effective manpower planning in the company? There are four steps implementation model to set up a Manpower Plan for the company. These steps involve evaluating and analyzing current manpower inventory; forecasting future manpower requirements; developing an employment and selection plan; and implementing a training plan for the employees.
First of all, the manager should conduct an audit exercise of existing employees to determine their profile in terms of demography, competences and work placement. This audit will generate an accurate data of the current manpower status showing their different departments, units, skill levels and job requirements.
At this stage, the manager should be versed in the company’s mission, vision, goals and business strategy in order to understand and appreciate the employees’ profiles. A poor understanding on the part of the manager will result in fault report of employees’ profiling.
Tools such as the mission statement, business plan and the organogram are useful in generate this information. This information should be presented in basic spreadsheet, graphics or custom-made software capable of showing statistics and generating report for HR analytics and management decision making.
The manager will be able to determine the current manning level and establish a gap analysis scenario by reviewing current employee profiles. The profiles should be fit to show adequacy, gaps or excess labour in manning level. Where adequacy exists, the next step is forecasting. Where gaps exist, plans will be made on filling the vacancies based on forecast report. Where there is excess labour, excision plan should be implemented.
The second phase in Manpower Planning is to make manpower forecasts. Forecasts are done through the use of business tools to predict the future and direction of manpower requirements for the company.
There are different techniques that are available. There is the expert forecast which includes making informal decisions or using formal expert surveys and Delphi technique to manipulate information to determine future manpower requirements.
Trend analysis projects manpower needs through extrapolation, indexation and statistical analysis.
There is work load analysis that evaluates the nature of work, quantity and quality in each department and predicts adequacy, gaps or excess labour.
There is also workforce analysis that appraises production and time period, and determines the flexibility and allowances that have to be made for current and future manpower adequacy.
There are other numerous mathematical models available through the use of computer programming for manpower forecasting. Some of these resources include budgeting, planning analysis, regression and new venture analysis.
Once the manager has established the current inventory and this has been matched with future forecasts generated, the company sets up an employment plan through recruitment, selection procedures and placement to ensure that immediate gaps are filled, excess labour are off-loaded through retraining, reassignment, outsourcing or retrenchment as a last resort.
A company with adequate manning level sets the platform for gaining and sustaining momentum in employee placement, engagement and retention. It will be able to predict its future work requirement and bring labour turnover to zero level.
The last phase of Manpower Planning is the design and implementation of a training plan that recognizes current and future competence requirements in order to support the diversification, expansion and growth activities proposed in the manpower plan.
This training plan will take cognizance of improvement in technology, changes in organizational work requirements and workplace dynamics. The employees will be strategically positioned and become empowered to demonstrate robust competences in current and future work demands that keep their performance optimal and always guarantee competitiveness in the marketplace.
Author: Babatunde Fajimi
This article was first published on The Union Newspaper under Management Tips with Babatunde Fajimi on Sunday, March 15, 2015.