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How does the use of trend analysis fit into the overall workforce planning process?

Workforce planning is the strategic alignment of an organization's human capital with its business direction. It is important for an organization to develop a strategic workforce planning process that will identify the human capital needs that are required to meet business objectives. Typically, workforce planning is a five-step process:

  • Set strategic direction.
  • Analyze workforce.
  • Develop action plan.
  • Implement action plan.
  • Monitor, evaluate and revise plan.

Assuming, then, that the organization has already completed Step 1 of the process—setting strategic direction—the second step is to conduct a workforce analysis. There are several key steps to the workforce analysis phase of the planning model:

  • Supply analysis: which identifies the competencies of the organization, analyzes the demographics of the staff and identifies trends such as turnover and retirement patterns.
  • Demand analysis: which measures future activities and anticipated workloads.
  • Gap analysis: which compares information from the supply analysis and demand analysis to identify the gaps between the current organizational competencies and those needed in the future workforce.
  • Solution analysis: which involves developing strategies for closing the competency gaps and reducing surplus supply.

The trend analysis is an essential element of the supply analysis phase. While the competency analysis provides baseline data on the existing organization and present staff, the trend analysis provides both data describing how trends such as turnover will affect the workforce and is a key element in the overall planning process.

Trend data is not limited to turnover data. It also may include the following:

  • Hiring and retirement patterns.
  • Years of service.
  • New-hire retention rate.
  • Transfers.
  • Promotions.

Trend information can help predict the supply of skills that may be available in the future and project the future workforce supply needed. Using the example of turnover rates, by answering questions such as, "Are there certain groups with increasing worker turnover?", "What are the factors affecting turnover?" and "Has turnover reduced the skill set of a certain group?" you can identify trend.  Analysis of this data can be used to model or predict future workforce staffing needs.

Careful research and a thorough analysis of data can help the workforce planner build a strategic plan for addressing the future needs of the organization.  


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