Workforce planning

by The Times 100 on Friday 6th May, 2011

Workforce planning helps organisations to forecast their future workforce requirements and put plans in place to fulfil these needs. In simple terms, workforce planning is about getting the right number of workers, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time. ScottishPower has a workforce of over 8,500 employees in the UK. This workforce is constantly changing due to such things as workers retiring or being promoted. In addition to replacing these, the needs of ScottishPower will depend on ever changing variables such as the development of new technology, especially related to 'green' energy developments. External factors also impact on a firm's workforce requirements. Social changes such as the growing and ageing workforce in the UK and the technical skills shortage in the country means that ScottishPower will have to compete with other energy companies to be able to attract and keep the best workers. Economic factors also have an impact on workforce planning.

In the period between 2008 and 2010 the UK economy was in recession, leading to a fall in demand for most products, including energy. The Bank of England's chief economist, Spencer Dale, has recently warned that there are still 'relatively hard times ahead'. He said that growth was likely to remain poor and inflation high over the next year or two. He believes that interest rates should increase from the current low level of 0.5%, although he has been outvoted during the last four Monetary Policy Committee meetings regarding increasing interest rates. With uncertainty in the economy, workforce planning is a challenge. Although ScottishPower produces an essential product, it may still suffer a fall in demand as consumers find ways to cut back in difficult economic times. This therefore has a knock-on effect regarding its workforce needs. Organisations do face a balancing act though, because they still need to ensure they have an adequate workforce as the economy begins to improve. As Mr Dale points out, the economy is 'starting towards a path of sustainable recover.' (BBC News 27th May 2011)

Questions

1.Define workforce planning.
2.Using the case study, describe the four stages in ScottishPower's Resourcing Approach.
3.Other than economic factors, explain the other external factors than impact upon ScottishPower's workforce planning.

Answers to questions

1. Define workforce planning:
Workforce planning is the process of anticipating a firm's future staffing needs and then making a plan to fulfil them.
2.Using the case study, describe the four stages in ScottishPower's Resourcing Approach:
a.Human resource planning – this involves business planning, developing workforce programmes, skills profiling and succession planning.
b.Attraction – raising awareness of the ScottishPower brand and finding ways to engage with potential candidates for jobs. Developing competitive pay and benefits packages is also key to attracting the best workers.
c.Selection – determining the profiles of the workers needed and using fair and accurate selection methods to get these workers.
d.Recruitment – developing professional recruitment literature and promoting vacancies effectively.
3.Other than economic factors, explain the other external factors than impact upon ScottishPower's workforce planning.Other external factors include:

  • Political factors e.g. government measures to improve the uptake of STEM subjects
  • Environmental factors – moves towards greener technologies requires workers with particular skills in these areas
  • Social – a growing and ageing workforce
  • Technological – advancements in technology again require workers with specialist skills.

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