Human Resource Planning: 17 Tips for Scaling Your Business

Ever thought about how important your team is to your business success? They’re like the engines driving your growth—the ones that keep things running smoothly. But hey, managing them can sometimes feel like trying to gather a bunch of playful kittens. From finding new teammates to getting them up to speed, it can be as tricky as herding those cute felines. And when your business is growing, these challenges can get even trickier. That’s where Human Resource Planning comes in.

Welcome to your roadmap for scaling your business while keeping your workforce happy and productive. This guide is like a treasure map with 17 golden strategies to master Human Resource Planning. These strategies are here to help you level up, showing you how to make your scaling journey smoother and your business even better.

Table of contents

What is Human Resource Planning (HRP)?

Imagine your business as a puzzle, and each piece is a member of your team. Human Resource Planning (HRP) is like being the master puzzle solver. It’s the process of figuring out who you need in your team and when you need them. Just like you plan ahead for a party or a trip, HRP helps you plan for the people you’ll need in your company as it grows. It’s all about being prepared so your business can run smoothly even when things change.

Key takeaways

  • Plan your team’s growth: Plan out how your team will grow, write down the jobs you need, and set goals for when to add new members.
  • Keep checking on your team: Keep an eye on your team’s skills, listen to their feedback, and see how you stack up against other businesses.
  • Help your team shine: Find the talents in your team and give them training that matches your business goals.
  • Make hiring easier: Improve your hiring process, make sure job descriptions are clear, and find people who fit your company culture.

What is Human Resource Planning used for?

Think of HRP as a magic map that guides your business through growth. It helps you make smart decisions about hiring, training, and managing your team. HRP is used to predict what skills and talents your business will need in the future. This way, you can find the right people for the right jobs at the right time. It also helps you avoid surprises by keeping an eye on your team’s strengths and areas that need improvement.

Challenges of Human Resource Planning

Like every adventure, HRP has its own challenges. One big challenge is predicting the future accurately. You’re not a fortune teller, but you need to guess how many people your business will need months or even years from now. Another challenge is keeping up with changes. As your business grows, things change fast, and you need to adjust your plans accordingly. And let’s not forget about finding the perfect people—hiring the right folks with the right skills can be a puzzle all its own.

Why is Human Resource Planning important?

Imagine building a house without a plan. It might fall apart or not turn out how you want. That’s why HRP is crucial. It helps you build your business with a solid foundation. It saves you from hiring too many or too few people, and it makes sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. HRP also boosts employee morale. When people know they’re part of a well-planned team, they feel valued and motivated to do their best.

Steps to Human Resource Planning

  • Know your goals: Understand your business goals and what kind of team you need to achieve them.
  • Assess your current team: Figure out what skills your current team has and what they might need to learn.
  • Predict the future: Guess how many people you’ll need in the future and what skills they’ll need.
  • Find the gaps: Compare your future needs with your current team’s skills to see where you’re lacking.
  • Recruit and train: Start hiring new people with the right skills and train your current team to fill the gaps.
  • Keep watching: Continuously check how your plan is working and adjust it as your business grows.

17 tips for scaling your business

Whether it’s hiring, recruiting, training, orientating, onboarding, or providing benefits, planning your human resources is challenging. Now throw in a growing business and the need to scale for it.

That’s where this list comes in.

1. Plan for strategic staff growth

Maybe your business started out with just two on staff. Then four. Someday, hundreds.

Plan now. Think of the specific tasks and jobs that are going to be needed. Write down the jobs (and descriptions) you think you’ll need. Decide what order you’ll need those jobs to become a reality.

Sure, things might change and you’ll have to tweak those plans. Yes, early on you’ll have to cross-train your staff so fewer people can cover more of those jobs. But you should set up a plan that has benchmarks that indicate when a new position is needed.

Maybe that benchmark is a specific number of customers, or a certain sales volume. Maybe when customer complaints or support wait times reach a particular level you know you need to add staff. The point is to have a plan of what comes next in terms of human resources, and delineation as to when that plan kicks in.

2. Regularly assess your current workforce ability

Assessment is the foundation of pretty much anything else we’ll be talking about in this post.

It’s important to assess your workforce regularly, because it’s the only way you’ll know what you have, what you need, and what is changing both in your actual workforce and also what is changing in your industry that your workforce needs to adjust to.

Things to assess might include:

  • Current employee skills and abilities. This includes technical, knowledge, interpersonal, and leadership.
  • Trends spotted in employee reviews. Any trend is worth paying attention to, whether positive or negative, particularly responses regarding training and the ability to do the job before them.
  • How your competitors compare. Find successful competitors, and consider how your workforce compares to theirs in terms of capability (skills, knowledge, training).

3. Cultivate talent to align with your business’s vision

Employees have inherent talents, but you need to encourage them to grow.

ConAgra studied the performance of both trained and untrained employees to determine what kind of effect training had on them. They learned that managers with training had half the employee turnover than those who did not receive any training. That discovery led to better training and the numbers to back up the cost of paying for training.

When it comes to scaling your business, you should know what direction you want to see it grow. Train and cultivate the talent of employees to take it in that direction. Looking for leaders? Provide leadership training. Looking for better customer service? Provide customer service training.

4. Streamline internal management succession planning

As your business grows, you’ll also see your need for management to grow.

Ideally, if you’ve been training your employees, you’ll have a good pool of potential managers to draw from in your own workforce so that succession and transition aren’t as jarring.

Your plan should include things like:

  • Having a system that identifies employees with management and leadership abilities.
  • Identifying personality and interpersonal strength and weaknesses in potential leaders.
  • Knowing what your employees career goals are, and pinpointing those who wish to manage.
  • A known system that alerts employees to the fact that they have the possibility of promotion and being a manager some day.
  • Establishing training for management techniques, as well as decision-making techniques.
  • Normalizing communication with employees regarding changes in management and other similar decisions that have an effect on them so they are used to being involved in such moments.

Not all of your management needs will come from within your growing business, but scaling means you’ll want to tap into those employees who have been with you from early on and who know your business better than a newcomer.

5. Improve your hiring process now

Getting your hiring process perfected when you are still on the smaller side is best.

This might include:

  • Talking to current employees about the hiring process and what they liked or would change.
  • Being serious about exit interviews and finding out if the hiring process was misleading and led to turnover.
  • Improving the process of letting potential employees see what your work culture is really like before they sign on.
  • Improving tools that assess whether an employee is a good fit for both the position and your business’s work culture.
  • Improving how you advertise for job openings, both in the copy you use to describe them as well as where you place job advertisements.

Hiring new employees is extremely time consuming and expensive. You want that time and money well-spent. There will be no magic moment where, as your business grows, your hiring process smooths out and gets better on its own. The whole point of being aware of scaling is to consider that your successes and failures scale to the same degree as your growth. If your hiring process is in turmoil, that’s only going to increase to the same degree as you grow.

6. Establish an actual HR department

Smaller businesses often do not have an actual human resources department, and they may function completely fine without one.

Larger businesses, however, do not have that luxury. Remember, HR departments are dealing with benefits, training, and interpersonal relationships. The larger your business and the more management layers grow, the more disconnected or distant your employees can become from those making decisions. Even if your HR department starts as one dedicated employee, be ready to start it.

7. Budget for human capital growth

Your employees are your most important asset. They are your human capital.

Be sure you’re budgeting not just for business expansion, but also for employee growth, too. That means considering benefits, expectations of employees, and workplace culture.

It’s not terribly complicated, but remember: if it isn’t in the budget, it isn’t going to happen.

8. Get your best practices in line with your actions

Most businesses have best practices, but they don’t always do so great on the actual follow-through.

For example, you may say that team collaboration is a best practice, but you have actually incentivized individual rewards. Or, you reward employees on a quarterly basis but only do performance reviews twice a year.

When your best practices are out of sync with your actions, you will fail to meet the goals that the best practices are meant to achieve.

9. Perform a gap analysis

A gap analysis is where you locate current gaps in what your business has and what it currently needs. It’s a bit different than regularly assessing your actual employees. It takes other things into consideration that actually affect your employees

  • Job descriptions. They should accurately reflect what the jobs are. Their accuracy, both in description and expectation, has an effect on employee retention.
  • Current tools employees use. This includes all tools, from computers in offices to kitchenware.
  • Employee benefits. This includes such things as retirement funds, health insurance, sick days, vacation days, and any other items your employees generally receive.

A gap analysis takes into consideration where your company is at now. It’s pretty common for a business to set their policies and benefits and not realize they are outdated in a few year’s time. Over time, your business changes. It grows, it needs to scale, and it needs to attract and retain great employees. A larger business, for example, can probably afford better benefits. You can’t rely on what you set up in the early days, and a gap analysis is set to specifically pinpoint what needs changing.

10. Leverage analytics for informed decision-making

Data is your friend.

It’s found everywhere, from employee interviews to your accounting department. The problem is that if you don’t make an effort to collect data regularly and with a consistent reason, that data goes unused in a file.

Knowing the numbers for what is happening in your business is the best way to make informed decisions. When it comes to Human Resource Planning, you’ll want data on:

  • Productivity. Are your employees as productive as they were when you were smaller? Is productivity scaling correctly with your business growth?
  • Retention. Are your employees staying or leaving, and at what rate? What direction is this trending?
  • Managerial effectiveness. Are your managers effective or causing problems with how they lead employees?
  • Benefit costs. Are your benefit costs in tune with goals and budgets, or are they overwhelming your profits?
  • Training, recruiting, and onboarding expenses. Are training expenses as you expect, or have they become more than you bargained for? These costs will be closely tied to retention and hiring.

Tracking analytic data on HR-related issues is the only way to take the guesswork out of whether or not scaling your business will be a nightmare.

11. Take a customer-centric view of HR 

Take an outside-in approach to viewing your employees.

What kind of experiences are your customers having as your company grows? You want to be sure to look for areas where business growth can damage a great customer experience, such as:

  • Personal interaction. Are your customers still having a personalized experience with your employees, or is business booming so much that your employees are trying to juggle too many customers at once?
  • Customer support. When customers have questions or complaints, are your employees able to keep up with the increased demand?
  • Service or product selection. As your business grows, are you adjusting what you offer to fit a growing and changing customer base?
  • Knowledge of services or products. Do your employees have the necessary knowledge of what your growing business offers customers, or are there knowledge gaps?

Are your human resources where they should be? Are they ready to be what they’ll need to be for future customer needs?

12. Build a comprehensive employee handbook

You can’t “go by the book” if you never created one.

As a small business, a slim employee handbook and a casual approach to guidelines as rules might have worked. But as your business grows, you need, in writing, more to the plan.

An employee handbook that is as detailed as needed provides consistency. No employee feels as if they are being treated unfairly if the handbook is followed.

Using the assessments and other tips in this post should help you know to adjust your employee handbook. Reviewing your employee handbook at least once a year (preferably more) is ideal, and if changes are made, you will need to bring all of your employees together to inform them and get them to sign off on the new book.

13. Evolve and adapt your employee communication

Early on, you may have had more personal interaction with your employees because your business was smaller. As it grows, though, that interaction changes and lessens. You might not even realize that there are some employees who are used to more communication with you but aren’t getting as much of it since you are busier than usual.

The problem is that even if you feel like you’re just as busy and just as communicative, you have employees who are growing distant from you. So while you may not have needed formal staff meetings or communication in the early days, a business that is going to scale has to adjust for a different approach to communicating.

It might seem silly, but start with staff meetings when you are still small. Get staff used to the idea. Small staff meetings can scale to department or large staff meetings. Daily one-on-one conversation with every employee, however, does not scale.

14. Create mid-term employee goals

Growing your business means you have a big goal, and you are pushing for it.

That’s true enough. But the middle of that growth process requires mid-range goals.

Long-term vision and goals are at the opposite end of the playing field from where you started, but there’s a lot of game play between one end to the other. You need the structure of goals there, too.

Create goals for human resources for that middle time. These tend to be plateau or benchmark goals that indicate a step in the right direction or that trigger the next phase of a plan. Perhaps you want to see 100% of your employees trained in a specific skill set, but might set a goal of 50%  during the fast growth period.  Or maybe you’d like to see all of your employees hit a certain sales or productivity level, but it’s too difficult to get them all there while you’re in the growth process of hiring and onboarding, so you set a mid-range goal that helps you move forward without abandoning that larger, future goal.

15. Find a mentor

Scaling your business can be scary, particularly when dealing with human resources. Find other business owners who have already done what you are in the midst of, and see if they will mentor you.

16. Evaluate your leadership

If you have top-level management that are creating a problem now, they are certainly going to be just as difficult (if not worse) later.

Are there personality clashes? Leadership issues? Ethical or trust issues? Anti-authority problems? Are they able to self-start or do they need you to micromanage them or give them detailed instructions constantly?

And not only that, but your team of leaders needs to be…smarter than you. That’s how you grow.

17. Know when you need to subtract

The idea of growth necessarily brings to mind adding things.

Adding sales, customers, employees. Growing.

But scaling also means knowing when to subtract. There are processes (and even job positions) that you may have needed earlier on, but which now are slowing you down. It is critical to be able to look dispassionately at some business traditions and positions and determine which ones have no place in a growing business.

Do you see a common theme running through these tips?

It’s all about planning ahead now, before your business gets too big to make changes. Remember: scaling magnifies the foundation. You can scale the good or the bad just as easily.

Paving the path to success with When I Work

As we unravel the intricate art of human resource scaling, one solution stands out as a guiding light—When I Work. It’s an hourly scheduling software meticulously designed to harmonize and streamline your workforce management efforts. With benefits such as automated scheduling, real-time communication, and easy shift swapping, When I Work presents itself as a catalyst for successful business expansion. By harnessing this innovative tool, you can ensure that your scaling journey is marked by precision, efficiency, and seamless HR management, allowing you to focus on propelling your business to new horizons. Explore the potential of When I Work and revolutionize the way you scale your business today. Sign up for your free 14-day trial of When I Work today.

Human Resource Planning: FAQs

Q: Is Human Resource Planning only for big businesses?

A: Human Resource Planning is not limited to big businesses. It’s equally important for businesses of all sizes, especially those with hourly, shift-based teams. Imagine you’re running a café with waitstaff, cooks, and baristas. HRP helps you ensure you have the right number of people on each shift, preventing understaffing during busy hours or overstaffing when things are quiet. Tools like scheduling software, such as When I Work, can simplify this process by helping you plan shifts effectively based on your team’s availability and skillsets.

Q: Predicting the future accurately seems tough. How can HRP help with managing an hourly, shift-based team?

A: HRP can assist you in managing your hourly, shift-based team by giving you insights into historical patterns. Let’s say you manage a retail store with fluctuating foot traffic. HRP can help you identify peak hours when more staff is needed and adjust shifts accordingly. Scheduling software like When I Work can take this a step further, helping you create flexible schedules that align with demand. It ensures you have the right number of employees in each shift, avoiding staff shortages or surplus.

Q: Is HRP only about hiring? How does it impact the day-to-day operations of an hourly team?

A: HRP goes beyond hiring—it’s a comprehensive strategy that involves everything from recruitment to performance management. For businesses with hourly teams, like a customer service center, HRP ensures there’s a balanced distribution of skills among different shifts. This guarantees that no shift is understaffed due to a lack of specific expertise. Scheduling software, such as When I Work, plays a vital role here. It empowers you to assign the right people with the right skills to each shift, improving efficiency and delivering excellent service.

Q: Can HRP help avoid problems in managing an hourly, shift-based team?

A: Absolutely! HRP is a proactive approach that prevents issues like insufficient staff coverage during busy periods or overworking employees. Let’s say you’re managing a restaurant with peak dining times. HRP helps you anticipate these busy periods and schedule more staff to handle the rush, enhancing customer satisfaction. By incorporating scheduling software like When I Work, you can ensure a smooth operation by distributing shifts evenly among your hourly team members, minimizing burnout, and ensuring that everyone has a fair workload.

Q: Is HRP a one-time thing for managing hourly teams?

A: No, HRP is an ongoing process, especially crucial for businesses with hourly, shift-based teams. As customer demands fluctuate, you need to adapt your schedules accordingly. For instance, managing a call center with varying call volumes requires constant adjustments. HRP helps you align staffing levels with call traffic patterns. Scheduling software, like When I Work, simplifies this continuous process by allowing you to quickly modify schedules based on changing needs, ensuring your hourly team remains efficient and your customers stay satisfied.

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