Staffing Role of the HR Manager: Strategic Workforce Planning

Staffing and Recruiting during the Boom Years

One of the key areas that the HRM unit works with is the staffing function. Hiring and on boarding of employees’ remains a critical activity that many HR managers are yet to master. This is mainly because of the unevenness of the demand and supply in the market for talent. For instance, during the heady years of the IT boom in the early years of the last decade, it was common for many division heads and line managers to walk into the HR manager’s office and give him or her target of employees to be recruited over the next three months in the quarter.

In the US, the situation was that many HR managers were asked to take in as many H1B or temporary workers to the country on board to meet the critical shortage in staff. In Asia, because of this very reason where many techies had headed to the US and Europe, hiring became a challenge for even the most seasoned HR professionals. The implications for the HR manager are many as his or her appraisal depends on a number of targets including how many they have recruited over the last quarter or the year.

Strategies to Deal with Shortage of Talent during the Boom Years

The way to deal with such a situation was to ensure that the number of people being taken in was based on current and future demand scenarios and identify gaps and surpluses in key skill sets. For instance, in the US, the shortage of those with Java skills was so huge that anyone with an elementary knowledge of the skill was immediately taken in the companies. This meant that the HR unit was simply filling up positions without any strategic planning. Hence, many organizations realized that hiring people without the requisite skills just to fill up positions would do more harm than good to the companies and hence, a conscious decision was taken by the HR managers in conjunction with the line managers to have forecasts of how many employees they would need over a quarter. The point here is that the constant bickering between the HR managers and the line managers took a toll on organizational efficiency and hence, this compromise was arrived at wherein the demand for specific skill sets had to be forecasted by the line managers and the HR managers would then deal with hiring accordingly.

The third aspect of the staffing and hiring activity is that many HR managers during the boom years advised the line managers to find employees from other divisions who wanted a change in their job profiles and roles. This internal filling up of positions by inter-division and intra company movement was effective in many companies like Fidelity. Further, overtime by key resources and hiring temporary workers were the norm in many companies. Of course, the overtime work was adequately compensated and employees who were doing so were given additional benefits.

Staffing Strategies during the Ongoing Recession

With the boom years over, the HR managers in recent years are breathing easy as they no longer have to run around trying to meet recruitment targets. Of course, the current challenge before the HR managers to manage the downturn and smoothen the downsizing underway in many organizations. To ensure these objectives in these economically harsh times, HR managers are resorting to passive measures as the first line of action wherein they indicate to the employees that they are on PIP or Performance Improvement Plans and this usually results in natural attrition. Next, instead of downsizing, the HR managers are reducing recruitment so that they do not have to fire employees and instead, these employees can be accommodated elsewhere in the organization. These are some of the aspects of the strategic workplace planning within the hiring and staffing activity that some respected companies follow.


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Human Resource Management