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How to create a staffing forecast template for succession planning


Including FREE staffing forecasting templates

Strong leadership is essential for the success of any business. You may have a high performing senior leadership team in place currently, and be reaping the rewards, but have you thought about what will happen once those leaders leave the business or retire? In order to secure your business’s future, you need to identify and develop the talent which will fill these critical roles in the future. In thinking about staffing forecasts and succession planning, it is also important to consider other business critical roles requiring technical or specialist knowledge which if lost, would be detrimental to the business.

Getting a handle on your future staffing needs is key to running a successful business, not just in terms of skills, but also in terms of financial planning. Usually the largest operating expense by far on the P&L (Profit and Loss Statement), understanding personnel expenses, likely recruitment costs and future staffing needs (also known as workforce planning) in line with business targets, will make the difference between achieving business growth and stagnating.

All businesses need to incorporate succession planning and staffing forecasting into their KPIs, but there may be specific reasons why you need to plan ahead.

  • Struggling to cope with the current workload
  • Missing skills crucial to move the business forward
  • Regulatory changes or new technology which cause you to review how you operate
  • Poor performance from your existing staff
  • Ambitious growth targets to meet
  • An aging leadership team
  • Specialist and siloed knowledge which would cause a risk to the business if lost

Before putting together a staffing forecast template you should consider the following.

What is your current staffing situation?

Current HR records should help you collate information on your current payroll. By mapping out average ages of employees, reporting lines, current salaries, skills and qualifications, and by speaking to employees to understand how satisfied they are with their current role and their aspirations for the future, you’ll start to build a picture of your existing employee situation. You then need to consider staff turnover levels, rate of growth and the skills that exist within the business already Vs the skills you need.

Once you have an overall understanding of the competencies needed and an assessment of existing competencies, you’ll be able to plan what needs to be done to retain and develop a talent pool, and likely recruitment needs, to ensure continuity of leadership and other critical roles.

Developing a staffing forecasting model

Before you can start developing the leaders of tomorrow, you need to put a structure in place to ensure a well thought through staffing forecast strategy which aligns with business objectives. This will also avoid you running into common succession planning challenges such as a lack of critical role definition and process transparency, lack of a recruitment and talent pipeline, and failure to tie development plans to specific competencies. A well thought through strategy will enable you to see where there is potential to move employees sideways, so they can understand new areas of the business, as well as upwards. This transparency will enable individuals to develop the skills they need to take over the day to day running of the business, but also show the existing leaders how they adapt to change and to learning new skills. Your staffing forecasting model should include:

  1. Identification of the key positions within your business
  2. Building job profiles for each of those key positions
  3. Competency gap analysis - Do you need to recruit from outside the organisation?
  4. Identification of development opportunities that exist
  5. Working with employees to create individual development plans
  6. Keeping an ongoing and up to date inventory of skills

Source: archives

Identifying critical roles and the impact on recruitment

The first step in forecasting staffing needs and succession planning is identifying the positions critical to business performance. That is, any position that could impact business operations and prevent the day to day running of normal operations, including financial operations, process efficiencies, or through a loss of knowledge. You should consider the following when assessing each role:

  • Is there only one person with the required knowledge to perform that task?
  • Has that individual acquired that knowledge through specialist training and time spent on the job?
  • Could that specialist knowledge be transferred or developed in other individuals?
  • Is the role one that has proved challenging to recruit for in the past, with a limited funnel of potential candidates?
  • Is the skillset needed only something that can be picked up within the organisation i.e. it cannot be brought in?
  • Is the employee eligible and likely to retire in the next 5 years?
  • Is the position a critical part of a wider strategic or operational network within the business?
  • If this role became vacant, how seriously would that impact the company’s priorities?

Once you have identified the key roles and have an understanding of the rarity of those skills and/or knowledge, you can think about your hiring needs. If the role is critical and you have no way to develop the skills or knowledge needed in-house, then you may need to invest in a specialist recruitment or executive search firm with knowledge of your industry. If you think you can put steps in place to develop the skills needed with your existing talent pool, and can identify potential successors, then you may be better placed investing that money in training and development. Either way, identifying potential candidates for these roles early, will help to minimise risk.

Competency gap analysis and personal development

A competency gap exists if there is a difference between the current competency levels of your employees and the competency levels needed to achieve the desired outcome. Employee assessment and interviews, performance review feedback and even skills management software can be used to measure the current skills that exist within your workforce. Using a scoring system such as a simple 1 - 5 scale, can be useful in assessing actual competency level against the desired competency level.

Having a complete competency based picture of your workforce is a great way to identify training and recruitment needs, and will help you to think in a more strategic way about the future of your business. For example, if you realign training decisions and assessment around addressing these skills gaps, you’ll be better placed to evaluate its success and be able to prove the ROI. Similarly, if you know you need to attract certain skills through your hiring strategy, you can change your approach to screen for certain skills, or to source passive candidates who are identified as having the desired skills. Take a look at our infographic ‘Surely the best people are already employed?’ To understand how this strategy could deliver higher calibre candidates to your business.

Ongoing skills assessment and maintaining a talent pipeline

Download our FREE Staffing Forecast Template to help identify critical roles within your business, build critical role profiles, and set objectives and strategies to future proof your business. Once you have a system in place for ongoing assessment of skills and knowledge sharing, you should never be in a vulnerable position if a senior or key individual leaves.

If you do decide you need to recruit, and want to target specific skills and high performing candidates, we are experts in executive search. Contact us today.



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