Workforce planning

by The Times 100 on Monday 23rd May, 2011

A 35 million pound gallery, which opened on Saturday, has become the biggest purpose built art gallery to open in the UK since 1968. The Hepworth Wakefield has been named after sculptor Barbara Hepworth who lived in Wakefield as a child. It will display works by Hepworth as well as those by other artists and sculptors. The gallery is expecting around 150,000 visitors during its first year of opening. This poses quite a challenge for the staff, who were giving out wristbands on the opening weekend to limit visitors to 45 minutes inside. Not only does there need to be enough staff to deal with the kinds of numbers expected to visit the Hepworth, they will have to possess or acquire certain skills as well. Customer service and communication skills will be vital for those employees dealing directly with the public, however, other more specialist skills will be required to ensure the display pieces are properly exhibited and cared for. (BBC News 21st May 2011)

Workforce planning is the process of anticipating an organisation's future staffing needs and then making a plan to fulfil them. This is not a process that is only undertaken by new organisations, like the Hepworth, but it is something that is continually being carried out by organisations. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the department that promotes British interests abroad, has about 2,700 people working in the UK with a further 1,800 British employees working overseas. With so many workers, staffing is changing constantly. For example, existing employees retire and resign and therefore need replacing. For the FCO, a number of factors affect its workforce planning in addition to those normally faced by businesses. As a public sector government department, it has faced budget cuts which inevitably affect the numbers of workers that can be employed. Another challenge for the FCO is that it needs employees with a diverse range of skills that are willing to work all over the world. To ensure it can continue to provide the best possible service, workforce planning is essential for organisations like the FCO.

Questions

1.Define workforce planning.
2.For an organisation with which you are familiar, list the different skills that would be needed by the workforce.
3.Using the FCO case study, explain what workforce planning needs to take into account.

Answers to questions

1.Define workforce planning:Workforce planning is the process of anticipating an organisation's future staffing needs and then making a plan to fulfil them. It should take into account both the numbers of workers required and the skills they will need.
3.Using the FCO case study, explain what workforce planning needs to take into account:Workforce planning should take into account:

  • Any existing workers that may retire, resign or get promoted.
  • Any new technology which may change working methods and therefore require different skill sets. Also, they should consider whether the technology is likely to replace existing workers.
  • Changes in demand for products or services which may require more or less staff to be employed.

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