Human resource planning is often overlooked, especially in the early stages of a business when the focus is solely on profitability and proving the business model. There comes a time however, when planning is an absolute necessity. Not only does it shield the business from hefty legal consequences, planning creates a smooth process for employee management that is both efficient and effective. The HR team often coordinates with payroll to manage paperwork and ensure everyone is properly enlisted in the company and company programs while being paid in a timely manner.
The human resources department has an important function within most businesses. Any business that relies on multiple employees to function stands to benefit from human resource planning. Not only does the HR department become a tool of legal compliance, they also work strategically with the business to manage growth, employee issues, training and a number of organizational tasks that simply require an HR specialty approach.
Why is human resource planning important?
There are several elements to human resource planning and all are equally important. The first is the actual planning of the workforce. Even in a small business, specialized skill sets are not always easy to source and planning for a growing workforce is critical. Planning for a reduction in the workforce is also intensive and requires strategic thinking to work through temporary or permanent layoffs. Legal planning and process building are used to shield the company from legal ramifications for discrimination of workplace misconduct. The human resources department is responsible for educating and training employees on company policy, they handle legal aspects of the employee relationship like workers compensation and they communicate with every department in the business. Human resources also works as a bridge between employees and payroll by ensuring contracts are executed and honored. Effective planning in the human resources department leaves the managers in position to focus on meeting goals that are responsible for driving revenue rather than spending time dealing with administrative issues and employee paperwork.
With all of the planning required, you might wonder who is actually responsible and what goes into human resource planning. The number of people in the human resource department ultimately depends on the company size. A small company of 5-10 people might have a single HR administrator while a large company of one-thousand employees will have twenty or more. It all depends on the company and their needs. A business with large seasonal hiring needs may have more HR folks on staff to handle the intensive training and paperwork required for on-boarding with regularity. A company with a very stable staff and little turnover will require a smaller HR department. Human Resources management is offered as a degree path at many institutions and it sets the stage for a career dedicated to HR. Numerous certification programs are also available to qualify individuals coming from other fields. It’s not uncommon for employees with administrative and management experience to make the transition into human resources. They can do this through certification training programs. The certification courses open the door to employees with undergraduate degrees in related fields but not a dedicate human resources degree. The experience from a business management degree for example will combine well with an HR certificate. To reach the human resources manager level, employees will often work within and HR role for three to five years.
Planning for Growth
The company stands to gain returns by scaling a workforce quickly. If a plan is in place, the company can bid on bigger contracts and effectively grow without being understaffed. The planning aspect applies to the additions of permanent employees, temporary employees and contract workers. A temporary growth opportunity often calls for seasonal or contract labor to avoid a cycle of hiring and firing. Planning to meet these expectations falls on human resources.
When a company needs to grow quickly or add a large seasonal workforce, human resources must plan for the hiring and manage recruiting. Recruiting fairs, advertising and other recruiting events are largely responsible for locating the workforce and placing them in jobs while still following company policies and procedures. A large retailer may hire thousands of employees for the holiday season on temporary work arrangements. Despite being temporary, human resources is still responsible for educating each employee on company policies, workplace safety guidelines and their role within the company. This is often done in the form of a contract where the employee signs off after receiving the training and agrees to follow the company policies. This holds the employee responsible for their actions at work and protects the company from legal actions if they fail to comply. It’s especially important when large numbers of new people are entering the workplace simultaneously. Not only does the human resource planning and training help the new employees understand their roles and the rules, it reduces chaos and guides everyone into position so they can begin working and executing their daily tasks.
Growth planning is also a requirement to receive contracts in many cases. Government contracts are one common example where the company must prove they can access the workforce necessary to complete a contract. Any large scale, contract based business deal is a candidate for human resources planning of this nature. Failing to demonstrate an ability to access and hire a qualified workforce may remove the company from the running for a contract.
When you think about what is involved in human resource planning, scaling down and laying off employees does not always come to mind. It is however a critical aspect of planning. A business can lose a key client or account that results in a larger workforce than necessary. This can capsize a business financially and scaling down becomes an unfortunate necessity. Laying off employees can happen in a temporary or permanent fashion. Layoffs come with some legal consequences if handled improperly and the human resources department must ensure each layoff is justified and handled properly. They must work through the employee pool and determine who must leave based on input from management. Determining layoffs is based on seniority, immediate need and financial resource planning. Some employees will require severance packages and unemployment benefit eligibility notification and guidance. Contracts for a severance are built by the legal team and the human resource department. A HR manager is often present during the individual or group layoff announcement to ensure everything is handled properly.
Planning throughout a layoff process is not only prudent for the company, it ensures the employees have the maximum notice possible, access to unemployment benefits and a genuine ability to move forward with their lives while seeking new work. They should also understand why the layoffs happened so their is no lame on their shoulders. Sometimes, business just goes in the wrong direction. Communicating this difficult message effectively requires an excellent human resources team that really understands the process.
Productivity and Employee Wellness
Productivity in the workplace is measured by managers and department heads but human resource planning can influence productivity through employee wellness programs and initiatives that create a healthy and happy workplace where individuals have the energy and positive attitudes required to succeed.
Every workplace is different but human resources departments plan to ensure employees have the minimum number of breaks required by law. Additionally, they can introduce incentive programs, health programs, gym membership discounts and general wellness programs to create a healthy and productive workplace. Even the layout of furniture, introduction of plants to an office and change in the lighting can have a major impact on employee wellness. Measuring productivity before and after the implementation of each program can demonstrate increases in output. Building a healthy workplace also cuts down on sick days and improves the long term capabilities of each employee. The human resource planning behind wellness and productivity programs can increase the bottom line in the long run while improving morale in the workplace.
HR acts as a communication tool with employees as well. They can survey employees while ensuring that no repercussions will be executed for undesirable answers. The ability to collect honest employee feedback functions as a key identifier for weak points in the business. The human resources department can essentially uncover hidden issues that employees are not comfortable resolving otherwise. The survey process can have a major positive impact on driving a more successful business.
In addition to basic wellness and creating a positive work-space, human resources is responsible for addressing mental health. They are a neutral resource and field reports of harassment and workplace misconduct. This outlet is important for developing a safe place of work for everyone. If a trend of harassment or misconduct develops, the department is responsible for planning a course of action to resolve the issue. If they have done the planning necessary to build an employee handbook with policies that each employee has learned and signed in a contract, taking action is easy to justify from a legal and logical point of view. In order to manage conflict and practice conflict resolution however, advanced planning must take place to define clear boundaries and draw an actionable road map to effectively handle those situations.
The overarching purpose of human resources is to create a system of checks and balances in the workplace. The HR department is supposed to represent the interests of every employee equally. That means the CEO is beholden to the same set of standards as the interns from a human resources perspective. In order to hold everyone accountable for their behavior, the department must train everyone and make clear guidelines. This sets a legal precedent within the company with the intentions of making it a safe and comfortable place to work. The major aspect of legal planning involves the employee handbook and company policy. While these documents often seem like something to rush through during the hiring process, they are very important and set can act as a legal contract between the company and the employee. They protect the company from legal ramifications when the company follows protocol and reprimands violators and they also protect the employee from harassment and mistreatment at work.
In the larger sense of things, human resource management serves to manage and mitigate risk. The planning processes create a safe working environment that meets regulatory standards while building a healthy environment. This allows employees the opportunity to flourish in an equal opportunity workplace. It also limits legal liability for the company which does far more than protect just the company. A large suit has the potential to shut a company down and remove the jobs for everyone including those who are not involved. The risk management through HR ensures the company can withstand accusations because it followed a strict human resources procedure and it protects the workers as much as the company itself.