Strategic Resource Planning During a Pandemic
If 2020 taught us anything, I think we can all agree it would be that having a concrete plan in place for anything at the moment is a one-way track to disappointment.
Whether it’s rearranging that holiday you had booked for the third time now, adding home-schooling to your daily routine or - what I intend to cover here - planning your company’s resource requirements for the months ahead, we’ve all had to inject a fair amount of “go with the flow” into our day-to-day endeavours.
This has also led to a fundamental change in how we define, “Thinking ahead”. How do we plan for a future, when we can barely begin to guess what it’s going to look like? Where’s the logic in setting goals for a year in which Lockdown 3.0 (or is it 4? I’ve lost track) shows no signs of checking out of the inn?
There are any number of ways to approach resource planning, with no, single, tried and tested method proven to succeed and anyone who tells you otherwise is no different to that guy who pops up on Instagram now and then trying to sell you 7 simple steps to being rich and successful.
How to approach resource planning?
This really depends on, not just the size of your company, but the nature of it. Do you bring someone in to alleviate a brimming workload, or do you hire with a view to finding work for them once they’re in (few have the luxury of the latter, even at the best of times)?
Do you know exactly who you are looking for, before even going to market for candidates, or do you let the talent pool reveal the perfect match? Point is, we all do it our own way.
Back to the topic of how we can best prepare for resource requirements in this, most unpredictable of times. A word we always need to keep at the very front of our minds, is pipelining. A solid candidate pipeline is key to any successful talent drive, pandemic or none. Whether you do this in-house, or through an agency doesn’t really affect the process and each has its advantages.
A talent pipeline is about a lot more than simply having a list of people to call when given the green light to start looking. It also involves a lot more than scanning through databases for candidates with relevant skills. In short, you need to make your business known, you need to know the business yourself, you need to dedicate time to sourcing and screening, and you need to be transparent about what you’re doing.
Steps to take to improve your workforce planning:
Make your business known
This isn’t about putting together a crack marketing campaign and slapping your company name all over billboards or website pop-ups. You need to be able to plant a seed in the mind of every potential candidate you speak to.
The first call might only be an initial screening. If you’ve done it right, then you’ve made it clear to the candidate that you’re looking to create a network of people with their skill set and it may be several months before they hear from you again. You need to make sure that, when you do call again, their first response isn’t “Who? Calling from where?”
Know the business, yourself
In most cases, the person making the calls to potential candidates, won’t be the person responsible for making the decision to hire later on.
If you’re that person, it’s also likely that you spend a lot less time “on the coal face” of the business, so making sure you understand exactly what’s required is paramount.
Trying to conduct a search of the back of a list of technical/academic requirements will result in it taking a lot longer than necessary (if it works at all).
Dedicate time to sourcing and screening
Putting up a job advert on a handful of boards and your website is a start. This “passive” approach to recruitment can often yield very good results. It can also make for a slightly more comfortable start to the candidate experience.
In this instance, they’ve come to you – less pressure on you to sell the role and the company as they’re already interested. This also seems like the most sensible approach seeing as though you’re not actually looking to hire immediately, but it’s still worth putting in the time to actively search as well.
Don’t scrimp on the time you put in to screening candidates too. Remember, in order to have a solid pipeline, you probably need a talent pool at least ten times the number of hires you’re realistically going to make.
These all need to be top of the pile, ready to go straight into an interview-proper and, remember, a good few of these will likely no longer be available when the time comes.
Be transparent about what you’re doing
If you’re not actively hiring yet, say so. Tell the candidate what you’re doing – you’re looking to build a talent pipeline for potential future hires and it may be several months before the interview process actually begins.
Candidates will appreciate your honesty. What they will not appreciate, is you saying “thanks for your time, we’ll be in touch”.
Caution – the following may contain content that could be considered a “plug for services offered”.
I mentioned that conducting this process internally, or through an agency each bring advantages. Pipelining is an activity that doesn’t necessarily yield quick, recognisable results. This is not something that businesses often look at as a productive use of their employees’ time, unless they’re an in-house talent acquisition partner (again, a luxury reserved for the relative few).
If you do this in-house, the advantage is that you hold your own data base of candidates and can dip in and out as you need to – again though, the process is time-consuming and may not bring results for a long time, if at all. Add this to licenses or budget spent on advertising, and it can quickly get quite costly.
Herein lies the advantage of working with an agency. We’ll do the leg work for you, advertising jobs, triaging applications, searching for and screening candidates, until you’re ready to start bringing people in for interviews.
In most cases, you won’t pay a penny until your new hire arrives onsite, on their first day of work. I say, “In most cases” as, payment for specific services are not unheard of, but are not the most common agreement. In any event, the cost of these services generally pales in comparison to in house staffing costs for these processes.
Whichever way you go about trying to plan your resource requirements for the near future, a solid candidate pipeline will stand you in good stead.