What Is Involved in Human Resource Planning and Development?

Jan Fletcher

Human resource planning and development involves matching an employer's need for adequate levels of staffing with the employees' need for compensation and esteem. Planning for and developing a strategic workforce, while also ensuring a sufficient level of flexibility in positioning the company's human assets, are typically the responsibilities of a human resource planner. Efforts to achieve a healthy balance between employee and employer needs is another critical piece of human resource planning and development.

Developing a strategic workforce is often the responsibility of a human resource planner.
Developing a strategic workforce is often the responsibility of a human resource planner.

The challenge of maintaining adequate staffing levels is usually one of the most absorbing aspects of human resource planning. When working with machines and mechanical processes, it is fairly simple to replace a failed part with a new part. With people, it can be much more difficult to replace a key man or woman. When a company invests in training and grooming someone for a management position, only to see a competitor steal the person away, it is a disappointing reminder of how quickly a company's human capital may change. This is why it is likely that planning for adequate staffing will be the primary function of a human resource planner.

Often, in medium to large companies, workers may be cross-trained, and thus are able to fill different positions within the company as needed. Such flexibility in human resource allocation is prized by many companies. Some firms invest a significant amount in cross training their staff. Those working in human resource planning and development may craft and institute programs to encourage workers to be cross-trained. Employees receive the benefit of improving their skills, while the employer has more freedom to strategically utilize the company's workforce.

Ensuring a match between what a worker wants and what the employer wants often can be a challenging task. A worker who possesses talent and education typically expects adequate compensation, while the employer may be motivated by concerns about restraining overhead and operating expenses. In an effort to bridge this gap, various strategies may be used by human resource managers to develop a positive workplace culture in which employees have a feeling of loyalty toward their employer. For some companies, this effort involves planning for an employee's care in the event of a life crisis, or offering incentives for loyal, high-performing workers. Managers of human resource planning and development also may coordinate team-building exercises to help employees feel a sense of belonging in the company.

Some human resource planners may operate at a strategic level in large organizations. These planners may be solely focused on planning and development functions. In smaller firms, a human resource manager likely will be responsible for managing day-to-day human resource operations, such as payroll or disciplinary measures, as well as human resource planning and development.

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