In Aasop’s The Ant and the Grasshopper, the fable concerns a grasshopper that has spent the warm months singing while the ant worked to store up food for winter. When that season arrives, the grasshopper finds itself dying of hunger and upon asking the ant for food is only rebuked for its idleness and dies.
Many companies and human resource groups avoiding workforce planning to instead do the glamorous activities of human resources may soon find themselves like the grasshopper, unable to properly account for the cost of hiring or to defend business units where revenue and or value no longer requires a large employee component.
It’s amazing how much value a simple but targeted workforce plan integrated with the CFO’s office can properly focus not only company dollars but company projects and resources. So what can you do get things kick started?
1. Get executive support
Build a simple but powerful overview to share with the CEO, CFO and other executives on why this needs to be done. Without their support, it will never work.
2. Keep it super simple
Work with the CFO’s office to determine the best approach to get true costs against revenue streams or in cases where there is no revenue generated on how to determine value. Pull together a mock approach and roll it out to test for feedback and error rate. Make changes as necessary and keep going. It does not matter if you use Excel or some expensive software the results can be the same. Prove the concept and process first and make sure it’s simple and there are not too many rules. Too many rules kill innovation.
3. Communicate often
Keep management and employees aware of why workforce planning is so important for the company and that doing it proactively actually makes layoffs less likely.
4. Show value
A process means nothing unless it shows value. Celebrate and communicate how workforce planning has allowed for new investments, new revenue, resource re-alignments and savings.
5. Keep the pedal on the gas
Dont’ give up too early. It takes time and effort to do workforce planning effectively. After a few months of frustration, process re-design, numerous communication efforts, dealing with irate managers and employees, success will arrive.
Of all the human resource processes I have ever worked on the most rewarding was workforce planning. It may not be seen as glamorous or sexy but it allows human resources to closely align with business units, finance and top executives in ensuring employees and company dollars are most effectively spent. So be an ant and show the grasshopper the door.