How to do HR Forecasting Efficiently

Whether your company is small or big, HR forecasting is essential. Here's how to better plan your human resources!

Human capital

Anne-Marie Battista

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


You plan it all: your organizations’ financial strategies, assigning parking spaces, the next client meeting, but have you thought about planning your human resources?

When it comes to personnel management, our daily professional life sometimes take over and leaves out this organizational pillar. Revelation: you need a plan – even better: an excellent plan. But where do you start?

Here are a few tips on how to do HR forecasting efficiently.

Do you really need to plan?

Whether you are working for a big organizationor a SME, HR forecasting is important and beneficial. Proof: everyone plans their own careers someway or another in order to og in the right direction and achieve certain goals. Unsurprisingly it is the same for a business, however small it may be.

Remember that the HR function goes way beyond staffing. HR forecasting and planning allows you, among other things, to make sound decisions on a short, medium and long-term basis, to forecast your budgets and training needs and apply the desired organizational strategy to your company.

To sum up, human resource planning and forecasting can increase the productivity of the organization and ensure continuous progress. Wouldn’t you say these are good reasons to get things done right?

HR Forecasting: make it official!

HR forecasting must be on paper (or on screen!). Avoid sloppy management practices and make sure that the planning is known and shared with your human resources department.

If you are the sole person in your HR department, still make time to gather all your ideas and prioritize them. When a decision has to be made, you will be able to consult your plan and make an informed decision.

Necessary, but how?

Planning might seem like a tedious process, but do not worry! By dividing your efforts into stages, you will get a human resources plan that actually fits your business.

While some software can help you in this task, remember that you will still need to address the issues diligently. Even in this day and age, where cars can park themselves, there are still tasks that need human input!

What are the strengths you already have?

Before making any kind of decision, you must firstly obtain a clear picture of the human resources currently in your company.

Identify every employee’s skills! Do not limit yourself to the skills listed in the description of their function, but to all the professional skills of your staff – consider volunteer work, such as being involved social committees, business or volunteer mentoring, from which relevant transferable skills will emerge.

Of course, note all training, certifications and degrees that employees have obtained – you might be surprised with the evolution of your employee’s profile since he/she was hired.

This overall picture will make you a better advisor in managing employee careers and it will be very useful information during the staffing process. Moreover, it will allow you to realistically undertake the second step in your planning : the analysis of human resource needs.

What are your real needs?

Your HR forecasting should be done out in the open. You will need a solid understanding of your industry: its risks and its technological advances, as well as economic and cultural changes in the labor market. Then, you will be able to accurately analyze the human resource needs of your business and adapt it to the changes in the field.

You should assess the number of employees necessary to the proper operational functions, identify vacancies and determine the set of skills required for the various positions. Some resources can be hard to find or be very expensive, it is therefore important to forecast the correct number of employees you really need, avoiding overloading the existing staff or spending part of the precious budget on an unjustifiable hire.

Wow! All this seems to add a lot of work to your everyday tasks, right? But no one said you had to do it alone!

Take the opportunity to maximize your planning skills and don’t be afraid to delegate some of those tasks to members of the HR team – you may realize that there is an imminent need for resources within your team!

Put everything in perspective and then act!

Analyze the difference, in other words, compare the number of vacancies (depending on their respective reality) and the number of employees who may apply for those vacant jobs. You will get a quantitative or qualitative difference, allowing you to plan optimal human resources actions .

The quantitative difference: the strength or weakness of the number

This gap refers to a calculable excess or a shortage of skilled labor for the number of positions to fill. You will need to take actions such as reducing staff (temporary or permanent layoff) or, on the contrary, establishing a recruitment program (hiring).

The qualitative difference: the strength or weakness of skills

This gap refers to your employees’ qualifications. You may realize that existing employees are over-qualified for the positions to be filled, or that they lack the skills to fill the vacancies. You can then use various techniques such as performance evaluations, providing training and development, or reallocating or restructuring resources.

Talk about it!

Once your plan is complete, it is highly recommended that you present it to senior management (even if you are one of them). You’ll get their feedback and make sure you share the organizational business strategy to key players.

Please, use your plan!

Careful: do not store your plan too far, you may need it more frequently than you imagine. Indeed, HR forecasting and planning should be taken into consideration when making decisions. After all, you put so much effort into it: it would be absurd not to make it profitable!

At all times, remain flexible in the implementation of your plan. Since it is impossible to predict the unpredictable, you may need to adjust your plan several times. Adjusting your plan is not a weakness, but rather a beneficial exercise that provides a clear picture of your human resources.

“The right person, at the right place, at the right moment, in the right job position” is only one of the many tasks related to human resources, but it still remains complex and important.

Ensure that the right planning allows you to contribute to business goals, and ultimately to be part of its success!

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