One of the most exciting briefings an analyst can do comes when talking to a startup. It’s exciting to pick the brains of innovative, creative entrepreneurs who are designing and launching products and solutions to address many of the issues found in the workplace. As these conversations happen, companies who fall into two camps:
- Those that have not quite met the mark in terms of a well-thought-out product or solution
- And those that not only have a great idea and funding, but have more customers interested than they can handle.
It’s a good problem to have, but what do you do when you have too much success too fast?
The first thing to do is develop a solid workforce plan. As we’ve likely all experienced in companies where there is no real plan in place, having one can make the difference between failure and keeping up with customer demands and becoming a successful organization. In her blog, Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail, VP and Principal Analyst for Workforce Management Mollie Lombardi lays out three things to know when considering creating a workforce plan:
- Analytics and planning go hand-in-hand. The plan, made using the organization’s data and analytics, will enable the leaders to think critically about the next steps for the organization.
- Make workforce planning a business issue. Having leaders create the workforce plan will make them more involved in understanding the KSAs needed in order to meet the demands of a growing company.
- Start the conversation. Far too many organizations simply have hope that they will find the talent they need as they grow and evolve. But organizations need to start thinking and planning today – because we all know what can happen if you fail to plan.
So, when creating your workforce plan, where should you focus first? According to the Brandon Hall Group 2014 Workforce Management Study, 32% of organizations focused on schedule planning based on operational needs. Close behind were headcount at 26% and skill gap analysis at 23%. The most surprising result was that 19% of organizations surveyed had NO formal workforce plan in place.
There are a few startups I’ve talked to recently that seem to understand the importance of having a workforce plan to address their growing company needs. One is Brand Amper.
Brand Amper, recently named an Awesome New Startup by The HR Technology Conference, is a SaaS branding solution specifically designed to meet the demands of managing and building a brand on LinkedIn and other social platforms, where the voice of employee trumps the voice of the company. Brand Amper represents a new “lean” branding process that has the advantage of being much faster and cost-effective than traditional, antiquated processes.
Unlike online social profile optimization services, Brand Amper is a tool that provides a way for employees to represent the organization by sharing their own stories and relationships with the company. It captures what employees say when not being guided by the company and puts the focus solely on the employee. These stories and related analytics allow the company to see what aspects of the company brand are resonating in real time.
With fast growth due to increasing client interests, CEO Jason Seiden and co-founder Lisa Cervenka had to consider workforce planning as the company expanded So far, they have been able to take that plan and put it into action to anticipate the growing demands of the market.
I asked Seiden how important workforce planning is to a new company.
“I think it is an important piece. For a growing firm especially, it’s something that’s baked in to literally every decision we make, from legal organization structure, to workflow, to funding, to operations, to what clients we take on and when. Having the right people, right team/culture, and right systems gives you the health you need to overcome many inevitable biz challenges. Having the wrong workforce plan, however, is like having compromised health. Now, even a small operational challenge might sink you!”
With that in mind, how is your organization handling workforce planning? Do you have a plan? Should you be thinking more like a start-up and ensuring that you have the right plan in place to support your organization’s goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.
–Trish McFarlane, VP and Principal Analyst,
Human Resources, Brandon Hall Group