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The workforce planning is an important function of the Human resource management and the activity consists of estimating the needs of the organization from its workforce in the current and future scenario based on the company objectives. This not only estimates the size of the workforce needed but also the skills, knowledge, experience and type of the workforce needed to fulfil the company objectives. It is clear that the overall scope of the workforce planning is extremely important for strategic HRM planning which justifies the position of the workforce planning as one of the core HRM activities. The main outcome of the workforce planning is five years forecast period during which the human resource requirements of the company are predicted based on the current company position and expected changes in the business both form external and internal factors. Therefore, the predictability of the labour needs of the company is important for the future planning activities that include both long-term planning and contingency planning based on the scenario. However, the workforce planning and its importance in the competitive advantage for the company in a specific market is a matter of debate as the role of workforce planning in HRM is a topic explored and new connection discovered every day.
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The argument about the actual functional role of the workforce planning varies based on the company operations and the external operating environment so there is little common between the workforce planning of the two companies. Even if the situations are similar, the emphasis of the workforce planning and its purpose changes based on the company objectives for future. Thus, there are various conflicting opinions regarding the actual impact of the workforce planning on company performance and the HR functions. Goetsch,& Davis, (2014) have outlined the workforce planning as one of the key activities for the future operations of the company within a given time frame and made it as one of the most important preparatory measures in a competitive market. Love & Singh, (2011) agree with this opinion but they also insist that workforce development is the main reasons why the workforce planning is successful in most cases. This is true in this regard as the development of the required competencies in the existing workforce based on the future needs of the company makes the company reputation high and helps develop the company brand and work culture that is dynamic. Therefore, the motivation of the employee and positive reputation makes the company perform better in a competitive market. The company competitive performance, therefore, does not rise by the workforce planning alone but the motivation and branding is the main cause of performance that is based on the workforce planning. The workforce planning is also supported by the analysis of the market, which makes the workforce planning a part of the strategic planning for the future operations of the company.
Porter, (2011) emphasize the point of the employees being the cornerstone of company performance and then goes on to develop the role of employee and the advantages the workforce planning gives to every company to either recruit based on required talent or develop the same competencies in existing staff. This supporting aspect of the workforce planning, therefore, is the root of the comparative performance of any company as through this the company either acquires talents or develops the skill of the workforce, which works in tandem with the company strategic position to derive the nested result for the same situation.
According to Allen, Bryant & Vardaman, (2010), the evidence supports the role of the workforce planning, links it to company and employee performance in the future, and is invariably a significant part of the strategic planning that aligns the workforce capabilities with the needs of the firm. The identification of the possible future issues relating the HRM can, therefore, be discovered through the workforce analytics approach that is the initial part of the workforce planning. Thus, the understanding of the current and future needs can guide the company HRM approach that is data orientated and based on the different factors affecting the business environment. However, the predictions that the workforce planning is based on are guided by the current data and do not consider any variations or models that might affect the future HR requirements of the company. Therefore, the recruitment of training and development of the existing staff regarding the future needs of t eh company are based on an assumption so the chances might be high of the expected situation to happen but is not absolute. Thus, Pinto (2010) agreed that the competitive advantage that makes the company able to meet future business requirements easier are based on the assumptions which make the role of the workforce planning in maintaining the company to achieve its objectives in the long run. This while providing company support in future situations and support their objectives it is not always beneficial as any change in the company objectives or the business environment can affect the business at any time. This collides with eh concept of workforce planning as the workforce expansion to meet the expected demands of the labour and employees with specific skills might only put the burden on the company in this situation. The overall possibility of the company achieving future objectives through the workforce planning is therefore based on many variables of the market and actions of the competitors. Hence, the role of the workforce planning might not be of such a great importance if it is not backed by real-time analytics of the external and internal environment (Davenport, Harris & Shapiro, 2010).
In the opinion of Iles, Chuai, & Preece, (2010) the importance of the workforce planning is relative and the strength that makes the workforce planning important is much less important than the predictive analysis of the environment and the business which is used in all parts of the business planning and setting of company objectives. Therefore, it can be argued that the workforce planning is an activity supported by the analytics and the analytics is much more important in regards to the future success of the company in the competitive advantage in the market. Nilsson & Ellström, (2012) justly make the factors of employability and the talent management a higher priority as the workforce planning is the activity that is supported by analytics and dependent on the external conditions of the labour market and existing workforce to ensure the future expansion and performance goals to be achieved. Therefore the workforce planning can be seen as a function in the HRM that is divided into the different activities of various levels of importance and interconnected with other HRM functions that affect the company strategic planning. Ram, Wu & Tagg, (2014) is justified in classifying the workforce planning as one aspect of the strategic future planning for an organization, which cannot be completely separated from all of the future strategic planning in any way. Therefore, the competitive advantage of the company is no more dependent on the workforce planning than any other future strategic planning activity. If one aspect of the strategic planning activity is wrong or affected to a high degree by any internal or external situation it can spell disaster which can affect the competitive positioning of the company greatly.
Therefore, it is true that the workforce planning alone cannot give the company any competitive advantage that is based on the combination of strategic planning activities all of which are interdependent (Nankervis et al., 2013). Despite the facts lining up against the workforce planning being a singularly important activity that can make the company succeed in future, it cannot be denied that among all of the strategic planning activity undertaken, the workforce skill and number is a significant driver of success. Therefore, while the workforce planning might not be the most important activity on its own, it is one of the few major groups of activities in strategic planning that affects the company performs to the highest degree. As the employees are the backbone of any organization, the talent retention and talent attraction strategy is at the forefront of the company requirements. These activities are inadvertently dependent on the workforce planning that prepare the company to meet these HR needs of the company and can give better input to guide the various other activities like recruitment and training.
The workforce is undeniably one of the main activities that form a core group of activities in the HRM, which makes the company dependent on the operations. In addition, the implication of the role the workforce planning plays on the current and future success of the company is the fact that cannot be ignored. However, from this argument, it can be easily understood that the HR activity of workforce planning is of significant importance even if it is not a singularly important part of the HRM.
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