7 steps for creating a successful staffing strategy

A dedicated staffing strategy is crucial for any business wanting to understand its people.

Your people are your company’s biggest asset, and can give your business a competitive edge, helping the organization grow its bottom line. But looking after those people requires a people-focused approach.

Staffing strategies are often confused with recruitment strategies, but they are not the same thing. Recruiting is a single step in the employment journey, it involves seeking and encouraging prospective candidates to apply for roles. Staffing is an ongoing process; it does involve the initial recruitment step, but it goes way beyond that to include how you manage and retain a competent and satisfied workforce, fit for purpose, in the right roles at the right time to meet the company’s goals.

Today, it’s also going one step further: it’s not simply filling positions, but looking at your workforce as a whole to gain insight and design great workforce experiences for your people, so that you attract and retain the best. In this way, staffing strategies are more like ‘people strategies’. People strategies look at where your high-performers are, and how you hold onto them, and considers things like how you provide them with meaningful work. Here are our seven steps to building an effective staffing, or people, strategy in this way.

Determine your business goals
The best starting point for a staffing or people strategy is your organization’s business plan, which should contain both short-term and long-term goals for the company.

Whether it’s to increase turnover, expand into new sectors, launch new products or grow through acquisition, these goals are all inherently driven by your people, and so your strategy needs to be fully aligned with the company’s objectives.

Establish your current people landscape
Now you know what your organization’s objectives are, you need a complete picture of your current workforce.

Having an accurate view of your people starts with a single source of truth. If your people data is held in disparate systems and on spreadsheets, this must all be consolidated into one system to give you maximum insight into your people. From here, you can build reports and actionable insights about your people, such as having accurate headcount reports, establishing skills gaps, and identifying high potential candidates for leadership roles as part of succession planning.

At Sage People, we often talk not just about accessing and tracking people analytics – but identifying and predicting trends to ensure you gain actionable insight into your workforce. We call this People Science. People Science is a data-driven approach to understanding people in your company, their behavior and performance, so that an organization can gain actionable insights and make better decisions about their workforce.

People Science is a journey, and at this initial stage, it means having the tools and data to know what is happening across the collective workforce at a touch of a button.

Analyze people patterns
There’s always a natural ebb and flow of staffing levels throughout any organization; staying one step ahead of potential movements can ensure there are no surprises.

At the most basic level, having a clear view of leaver dates and information will help you recruit and backfill these positions well in advance, minimizing the risk of losing knowledge when someone leaves without completing a handover.

Taking this a step further, you can analyze your workforce to identify potential movements well in advance. A modern HR and people system will tell you the number of employees nearing retirement age; forthcoming maternity and paternity leaves; upcoming promotions that will require a succession plan, or identify individuals who are approaching the company’s average service length.

By leveraging such reports, and analyzing these patterns, this allows you to plan ahead to address potential gaps and plan accordingly.

Identify staffing and people needs
For a successful staffing and people strategy, you first need to understand the skills, experience and resources required to achieve your business goals. To maximize the efficiency of the recruitment process, you also need to consider the timeline of activities required to fulfil each role, and plan accordingly.

You’ll need to analyze further data to establish this, and this is where People Science can help further. For example, what roles do you need? How long does it typically take to recruit them? How many candidates do you need to contact to realistically find the right one? What’s the time frame for induction and ramping up to full productivity? Your existing workforce data will provide useful insights that you can use as a benchmark.

Create a future staffing projection
With the current workforce picture complete, it’s a good idea to build a long-term staffing plan for the next five to 10 years.

This needs to be done alongside the business owners. They will need to share the long-term vision for the company so you can factor in if there’s going to be a company restructure or any future acquisitions that will bring new or different staffing needs to the business.

Also work into the projection succession planning as different employees get promoted during the course of the next five to 10 years – as  well as which departments are going to become vital to the future success of the company and therefore likely to expand in size.

As well as creating this projection, understand what is needed to meet this in your company. Do you have an adequate size recruitment team to match your projections? What about budget? Create this plan alongside your projection in a format that is clear and others across the business will understand.

Develop a strong employer brand and workplace culture
Do you have employer branding and People Marketing strategies in place to attract those you need? Are you also constantly innovating to ensure you’re creating great workforce experiences not just not, but in five years’ time too – what will you need to ensure you’re doing that?

It’s also helpful to consider how you create great workforce experiences for your people. What makes them tick? How do you create an environment where employees consider their work to be meaningful, and as a result are highly engaged in it? Understanding how you build an environment in which people love to work is vital to retain the best as part of your strategy.

Don’t assume that everything you need to create the perfect people strategy can be gleaned from within the walls of your own office. Read trade journals and business magazines to find out what other companies are doing to deploy strategies in your same industry. Reach out to your peers in other companies, and ask to pick their brains – nine times out of ten they will be more than willing to share their experiences. Search online for models you can replicate; attend workshops and seminars; and use social media to ask for ideas.

Review the plan regularly
The business needs can change rapidly so even scheduling an annual 12-month review of your plan is unlikely to be enough. Regularly review your plan to ensure you can flex and adapt the people needs of the business if conditions change at a moments’ notice. The termination or signing of your single biggest client could have a drastic impact on your staffing requirements and operating margins.

Your people are the backbone of your company. Engaged and competent employees are the foundations for a strong business, so developing an effective people strategy aligned to your businesses objectives will not only keep your business in the black but it will boost your bottom line.

If creating great workforce experiences is at the heart of your people strategy, you’re using People Science to gain true actionable insight on your employees, and following these steps then you have all the ingredients for creating a successful staffing and people strategy that works.


How else can you create great workforce experiences for your staff? Download our research report from 500+ HR leaders on the challenges facing the sector. 



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