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Personnel deployment planning

Important facts and aspects of personnel deployment planning (PDP)

Increasingly complex business processes and the fast pace of modern working life require maximum optimization of resources and long-term planning of personnel and manpower, taking into account their qualifications and flexibility at the same time. What a balancing act!

Personnel deployment planning (PDP) is often carelessly equated with shift planning. The main thing is that someone is on site when needed and gets the job done. But there is so much more to workforce scheduling, so much potential that is often not exploited. Successful personnel planning can make the difference between the success and failure of a company, or at least prepare it for all eventualities. But how does PDP actually work in a company and what does its success depend on? The following overview is intended as a guide and answers basic questions on the subject of personnel resource planning.

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Personnel deployment planning: The definition

Personnel deployment planning (also PEP) generally refers to the short, medium or long-term scheduling of employees and their allocation to individual departments and positions within the company. The aim of PEP is to determine personnel requirements in order to then allocate the appropriate number of employees with the right qualifications to shifts and thus ensure the optimal use of labor resources. Staff scheduling therefore also forms the basis for numerous important personnel decisions. For example, where are there bottlenecks, i.e. is more staff needed?

Staff scheduling covers the following areas:

  • Personnel controlling and personnel requirements planning: personnel requirements and headcount are determined and analyzed on an ongoing basis in order to be able to react flexibly and quickly to new developments

  • Recruitment of new, qualified employees if staff shortages arise due to future requirements and a position cannot be filled internally or the company is growing

  • Transferring employees to enable optimal use of resources (to cover seasonal changes or expected peaks) or to offer employees new incentives (job rotation)

  • Personnel development to develop employees' skills and coordinate the implementation of new measures to ensure employee satisfaction (job sharing, job rotation, job enrichment)

  • Time recording and work scheduling to ensure that working hours and the allocation of working hours are adapted to the volume of work

  • Release of staff when an employee leaves the company. Duty planning or shift planning, can then be re-coordinated and viewed

Personnel deployment planning has numerous interfaces with other areas of the company and possibly also sub-departments. These include controlling, personnel and corporate development, recruiting and HR, the legal department (with regard to company agreements) and strategic corporate management. A holistic PDP is to be understood both qualitatively and quantitatively as well as in terms of time.

Who is responsible for workforce scheduling?

In many companies, it is the management that is responsible for strategic workforce planning. It decides which departments or locations need reinforcements or should be re-staffed. In this context, workforce scheduling is also part of a company's overall strategy and sets priorities. Operational responsibility, on the other hand, lies with the HR department. It determines the need for manpower, keeps track of vacancies and changes in the various departments and supports department heads in planning and deploying employees. Close communication between management and the HR department is the basis for holistic workforce planning. Depending on the size of the company and the size and type of HR department, responsibilities may be distributed differently.

Personnel deployment planning in practice

Small and medium-sized companies in particular often lack a holistic workforce planning system and have little overview of the available resources and potential. Yet a comprehensive PDP is a key factor in a company's success, especially because it makes it possible to unite many different interests. It is therefore advantageous for all companies to keep a close eye on their personnel deployment planning. There are also software solutions that can help determine staffing requirements, create shift schedules and manage absences. Regardless of which approach you choose, whether manually or with digital tools, there are a few things that PDP always includes in practice.

In order to make the best use of employees' knowledge and skills, their qualification profile must match the requirements profile of the respective location. Of course, the employee's individual interests and development wishes should also be taken into account. These two parameters alone can quickly make personnel deployment planning confusing. However, the actual demand, which must be determined again and again, is another factor. These three points are the biggest factors in workforce scheduling and must be constantly re-evaluated. In practice, they determine how duty and shift schedules are designed and how flexibly a company can react to absences.

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The challenges of workforce scheduling

In times of economic and technological change and demographic and social challenges, the complexity of workforce scheduling continues to grow. Employees place higher demands on their employers and value further development, participation and flexible working time models. Companies in traditional sectors and rural regions in particular are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit suitable staff. They are feeling the effects of the skills shortage. It is particularly important for them to have a functioning strategic workforce planning system that recognizes trends and develops long-term strategies to retain and attract employees. The position of workforce planning in the company and close cooperation between the HR department and company management are crucial to success. Trends are analyzed together, current developments in the company are scrutinized and a long-term strategy is developed to secure resources.

Success factors for workforce scheduling

Depending on the company, workforce scheduling can be very complex and challenging. The following factors are important if workforce scheduling is to succeed:

  • Goals, priorities and framework conditions of the PDP solution should be defined and communicated. Economic criteria can sometimes lead to a different strategy than a focus on employer attractiveness or employee satisfaction. Companies should react flexibly to changing conditions (internal or external) and adapt their planning accordingly.

  • Good personnel controlling and prudent analysis help to identify bottlenecks and manage efficiently. The balance between company and employee interests is of great importance. Employee qualifications and availability should be taken into account just as much as inclinations, wishes and development opportunities.

  • Planning on the basis of Excel files is not very efficient in the long term. Medium-sized and large companies can benefit from the use of appropriate software. However, this should only be selected and implemented after a sufficient pilot phase and consideration of all factors.

  • Part-time employees, temporary workers or interns should also be taken into account in staff scheduling in order to obtain a realistic overview of capacities.

  • If there is an employee representative body, such as a works council, it should definitely be included in the planning. Changes in personnel planning or decisions that affect employees directly or indirectly should be communicated transparently and employee needs and concerns should be taken seriously. Long-term planning with scope for short- or medium-term adjustments allows for a flexible response.

Professional workforce planning promotes customer and employee satisfaction and allocates resources sensibly. Even small and medium-sized companies, where staff deployment is often less strategic, benefit from a constant analysis of requirements and strategic planning. Dissatisfied employees, an uneven distribution of workloads or the wrong focus can cost the company valuable resources and reduce competitiveness. Close cooperation between the individual departments, the HR department and company management, on the other hand, enables a company to act strategically and plan for the long term.

What is the difference between workforce scheduling and workforce management?

Workforce management and workforce scheduling are two terms that are often used interchangeably. Just like personnel resource planning, workforce management is also based on the idea of demand orientation and aims to optimize personnel deployment. However, personnel resource planning is more of a building block of workforce management, so the term workforce management is somewhat broader than personnel resource planning. In addition to actual workforce scheduling, it also includes determining personnel requirements, specific working time models and time management within the company. Workforce management not only refers to employees and the resource of manpower, but also deals with the use of mobile resources and work equipment, such as vehicles, machines and materials.

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