When executed properly, meetings for strategic workforce planning are one of the most effective ways to keep an operations team aligned in regard to project allocations, capacity planning, and overall workforce management. Ideally, these meetings would be where information is shared, feedback is offered, strategy is discussed, and most importantly, decisions are made.
Here is what you need to know about why workforce planning is important, why you should book meetings planned around it, its goals, and its benefits.
“You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question.”
— Bill Gates
What is strategic workforce planning?
Strategic workforce planning is the process of identifying and preparing for the future workforce needs of an organization. It involves analyzing the current workforce, forecasting future staffing needs, and developing plans to ensure that the right people are in the right jobs at the right time.
The goal of workforce planning is to ensure that an organization has the right mix of skills and experience to meet its business goals now and in the future. A well-designed plan can help an organization avoid problems, such as critical skills shortages, surplus staff, and high turnover.
There are many factors to consider when developing a strategic workforce plan, including:
- Changes in business strategy
- Technological advancement
- Demographic shifts
- Economic conditions
The first step in workforce planning is to conduct a thorough analysis of the current workforce to identify any gaps in skills or experience. Once the current workforce has been assessed, future staffing needs can be forecasted based on anticipated changes in the business environment.
After future workforce needs have been identified, plans can be developed, which may involve recruiting and training new staff, redeploying existing staff, or a combination of both.
What are the goals of strategic workforce planning meetings?
Construction workforce planning meetings are a way to alleviate the problem-solving responsibilities, which can often fall on the shoulders of the construction business owner or a select few members of your operations team.
Think of your local fire brigade as an example. There’s certainly a hierarchy – from the Fire Chief to the Captains down to the Firefighters, but everyone plays an important role when a building is ablaze. For some construction business owners, being in sole control of their people and projects becomes a way of life. Putting out fires becomes their way of doing business.
But workforce development planning meetings become a chore, when they could be the most effective way to gather information and collaborate on new ways to stop the fires from starting in the first place.
To start thinking about what goes into making a workforce planning meeting more effective, meetings should allow for open conversation to gather valuable input based on your team’s knowledge, experience, skills, and different perspectives. This allows your organization to better understand strategy, identify potential project risks, solve problems, and align with one another to achieve collective business goals.
It isn’t easy to consistently run meetings that check all those boxes, but it’s worth making the effort to make every session meaningful. The more effective your meetings become, the more you’ll begin to see workforce planning benefits both within your team and your organization.
Why workforce planning is important
Workforce planning is an important tool for businesses of all sizes, helping to ensure that companies have the right employees in place to meet their future goals. Here are some more specific reasons as to why your construction firm should plan its workforce carefully.
Improves employee management
It’s one thing to hire more workers—it’s another to retain them. After all, having a worker quit in the middle of a project and having to go through the process of hiring again can not only be costly but can impact the project’s schedule. Whether it’s assessing the effectiveness of current training programs or developing new procedures to ensure worker retention, focusing on employee management through workforce planning is crucial.
Addresses the labor shortage
By taking the time to develop a strategic workforce plan, businesses can avoid many of the pitfalls associated with the industry’s prevalent labor shortage and the lack of availability of skilled workers. Strategic workforce planning means reducing the risk of delays due to lacking the right amount of workers.
Allows companies to remain competitive
To stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in today’s ever-changing business environment, you must increase efficiency and ensure productivity. By having the right people in the right jobs at the right time, organizations can optimize their performance and better meet the challenges of the future, giving them a competitive advantage.
Benefits of strategic workforce planning meetings in construction
Here are some significant workforce planning benefits and why you should consider holding these meetings.
1. Optimizes your construction workforce management
It’s usually expected that leading general contractors have regularly scheduled workforce planning meetings to keep in touch with key stakeholders (like project managers, estimators, and their core operations team) and stay up to date on project progress. Although construction owners are generally great problem solvers, effectively running workforce planning meetings allows for problems and strategies to be viewed from multiple angles to produce the best possible solutions.
Effective meetings allow construction leadership to delegate meeting tasks and gain input from multiple stakeholders to create an optimized workforce planning process, avoid workforce gaps, drive productivity, and help push the needle for your organization.
This is why workforce planning is important, and why meetings should be centered around mapping it out. Not only will your workforce plan be optimized, but so will your workforce planning process.
It’s also important to consider that, given the meeting attendees, workforce planning meetings can quickly become the most expensive meeting your company will have. So not only should you hold these meetings, but ensure that you’re utilizing that time properly. In the long run, when conducted accordingly, effective meetings can save valuable time and energy when creating a workforce plan, giving you more time to put out non-workforce-related fires.
“The people I want to share information with can easily obtain access. Conversations with departments have become more real, productive, and insightful. Because Bridgit Bench serves as a single source of truth, everyone is on the same page. I can firefight better now. I’m not feeling pressured.”
— Jeff Olafson, CEO at Gardon Construction
2. Increases understanding of meeting goals and strategy
When you’re creating the agenda for your next meeting, make sure to clearly state the goals of the meeting and the desired outcome of each project that will be discussed. This allows your team members to prepare and align both discussion points and input around the specific outcomes you are hoping to achieve. Your meeting facilitator can then use the agenda to keep the meeting concise and moving in the direction of your business needs and strategic goals.
The agenda helps to provide a shared sense of purpose around strategic workforce planning going into your meetings. Everyone not only understands why they’ve been included, they also understand the importance of the meeting. Having an understanding of long-term goals and strategic direction is motivating for your team both during workforce planning meetings and as you push towards achieving organizational benchmarks.
3. Achieves improved team collaboration and engagement
When executed well, workforce planning meetings offer each member of your operations and project management teams the opportunity to provide valuable input and engage in relevant discussions and problem-solving.
To do this effectively, the facilitator of your meeting should keep the conversation focused on workforce development planning, narrow the discussion to specific projects and issues, and ask questions that guide the conversation forward. Allowing your team members to contribute their perspectives to your construction workforce planning helps to show their ideas are valued.
“Before Bridgit Bench, everyone would leave personnel meetings exhausted because we were dealing with relatively fixed resources. Now, everyone is more engaged.”
— David Diltz, Operations Manager at Compass Construction
You may also be able to spark collaborative discussions that result in new ways to solve problems and mitigate potential risks.
When preparing for your meeting, be sure to send out your agenda ahead of time with discussion topics and high-priority projects that you’d like to gather input on. This allows your team to prepare any ideas and helps keep your meetings running smoothly.
If there are team members that don’t regularly offer input, ask them to share. You never know how much a new perspective can open your eyes to new ways of workforce planning.
4. Pushes for increased accountability within the workforce
Your construction workforce planning meetings should help to create an environment where every team member feels like their perspectives and input are valued. This allows your team members to feel comfortable taking on different responsibilities and makes it clear that every decision that is made has an impact on individual projects and the organization as a whole.
Decision-making during meetings holds more weight than decisions that are being made via email, phone calls, or individual meetings. When a decision is agreed upon with everyone’s input, your team members will feel more accountable to the team and will be motivated to follow through effectively to provide feedback to the team at the next workforce planning meeting.
Consider also using a collaborative construction workforce planning solution for your workforce planning meetings, as everyone will also have full visibility on updates that are being made. This helps motivate your team to not only stay up to date, but do their part in keeping everyone updated on their projects, progress, and relevant issues.
Since no one likes to be the bottleneck that holds up expensive workforce planning meetings, ensure you’re capturing the following:
- All action items related to specific projects
- Team members that are responsible for following through
- When you next expect to be updated on progress
5. Supports and nurtures career development
One of the workforce planning benefits of effective meetings is that they will help create opportunities for each member of your operations team to develop business-critical skill sets.
First and foremost, the facilitator of the meeting is refining their leadership skills and practicing continual effective communication over months and months of meetings. They are also learning what motivates your team to contribute to your workforce planning and holding your team accountable for project updates and progress reports.
Meeting attendees are able to witness and participate in effective meetings and adopt the communication skills of the team around them, modelled by company leadership. Effective workforce development planning meetings also challenge your team to step up and contribute to important workforce decisions.
Beyond the meeting participants, effective meetings allow for the career development of your entire workforce by identifying future needs to preemptively reduce any skill gaps through experiential learning on new build types and project roles. Collaborative meetings also allow for high-performance individuals to be identified and placed on high-value projects.
Common mistakes in strategic workforce planning meetings
Here are the most common mistakes made during workforce planning meetings that you should avoid.
Not having clear objectives
Without a clear objective, the meeting can meander and accomplish little. This usually happens when there hasn’t been adequate preparation for the meeting, leading to a lack of focus and direction. An unproductive meeting will likely lead to no decisions being made and no follow-ups, which ultimately ends up being a waste of time and money.
Not creating balanced workloads
Overburdening workers can cause stress and decrease morale, which is, in turn, counterproductive. At the same time, not giving other team members enough to do can create unnecessary and costly downtime. During meetings, take care to create balanced workloads so every team member is equally distributed and is given a sense of responsibility and purpose.
Not delegating tasks to the right person
When delegating tasks, it’s important to also take into consideration each team member’s past experience, skillset, strengths, and weaknesses. Allocating work to the wrong team members creates room for error and work that’s poor quality, which makes way for expense reworks. Ensure that workers are comfortable and trained for the work they’re being given.
Holding strategic workforce planning meetings is important
These pointers will have hopefully helped you conduct more productive workforce planning meetings. To streamline the set-up and follow-up of these meetings, consider enlisting the help of technological solutions.
Bridgit is the leader in construction workforce planning because we understand the value that stems from creating an optimized workforce planning process. We provide operations teams with clear visibility over their workforce and project timeline to promote collaboration during meetings and encourage general contractors to customize Bridgit Bench to fit their company-specific needs.
We aim to help you better understand your workforce planning so that when new opportunities surface, you’re well-prepared to take on those challenges.
Whether you’re holding a workforce planning meeting for the first time or you’re on your last one for the year, using the tips and tricks outlined in this article will ensure you’ll always be well-prepared.