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Workforce Planning Lessons from 4 High-Growth Teams

Oct 27, 2022| Reading time: 9min

BY Sharon Rusinowitz

Director of Content Marketing

We’ve all heard the advice “failing to plan is planning to fail.” And when you’re a growing organization, there are a lot of elements to plan when you’re trying to successfully meet your goals. 

While you’re juggling all the aspects of scaling, one item is often overlooked: establishing a solid foundation for steady workforce growth. 

You may get lucky in the beginning – let’s say you successfully hire top talent and your teams collaborate seamlessly. But as your organization grows, you may start to see cracks in your systems and find you need to eradicate them immediately. What’s more, you not only need to make fixes, but you need to improve processes for a sustainable future. 

Below we dive into workforce planning strategies – vetted by four high-growth organizations – to help you identify possible risks and determine next steps in your scaling endeavors. 

If you’re looking to scale responsibly, it’s important to put systems in place to create an intentional, data-driven plan. Check out The Startup’s Guide to Intentional Growth to help you plan for every scenario. 

Learn more here

What is Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is the idea of intentionally growing a team based on company goals, on-the-ground needs, and data-driven insights.

Specifically, workforce planning takes into account external factors (like skills availability) and internal factors (like company goals and resource constraints) to help your team make informed decisions about where and when to hire. 

For a strong plan, you need to analyze your employees and team structures to understand future staffing needs. Strategic workforce planning also plays a critical role in developing growth plans for existing employees and helps leaders think through succession plans.

Overall, your strategy should provide the necessary insight so you can make purposeful choices on structuring and growing your team. 

Workforce Planning Lessons from 4 High-Growth Teams

With the right approach, workforce planning can yield results without a massive undertaking (even for small teams who are just getting started!). Below are actionable lessons from four organizations that have successfully implemented workforce planning strategies to support and scale their companies. You’ll find a common theme between them: they were able to create stronger processes and make faster decisions by using their people data.

1) Rémy Cointreau: Optimize for Efficiency

Rémy Cointreau’s People team was used to focusing on repetitive, manual tasks. Historically, the team spent an average of five hours each week manually updating the company’s 200+ person org chart in PowerPoint, and then making those changes in multiple other systems. Not only was this setup time-consuming, but it also failed to provide any real-time insight for strategic workforce planning.

Rémy Cointreau decided to alleviate this challenge by automating the entire process within a people analytics platform. Because the platform integrates with the rest of their HR tech stack, any updates are reflected to their org chart in real time. Now, instead of moving boxes around on a screen, their People team can quickly conduct a workforce analysis and make the right decisions. 

Specifically, Rémy Cointreau’s HR Generalist, Joe Taranto, shares that this approach also allows the team to be purposeful with hiring decisions, leading to $450K worth of savings in headcount spend. Goodbye, reactive decision-makers, hello, strategic teammates.

Looking to optimize your HR tech stack? Learn everything you need to know in our guide.

Download the guide here

ChartHop integrates with your HRIS and payroll systems

To create and act upon accurate workforce planning strategies, choose a people analytics solution that integrates with your existing people data. 

2) Wistia: Evolve Your Org Structure, Transparently

Wistia’s flat org structure initially helped everyone collaborate easily and gave team members a high degree of autonomy. But as they grew, their flat structure started to become unwieldy. Leaders found that it created a lack of visibility that made it difficult to identify who owned what and stalled decision-making.

Recognizing these challenges, Wistia decided they needed to evolve to match their growing business by adopting a more structured organizational hierarchy. The team ultimately found that this shift helped them move faster by providing clarity around ownership, decision-making, and goal-setting that nurtured the existing environment of creativity and collaboration. 

Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage, notes that one of the biggest contributors to their success in making this change was giving every team member visibility into the new organizational structure through a dynamic, easily accessible org chart.

Specifically, a visible org chart with an employee directory helped Wistia employees understand key stakeholders when it came to decision-making and collaboration. That shift lead to people knowing:

  • Who to seek out for decisions
  • When they were supposed to get those things done
  • What everyone else in the company was trying to accomplish

He explains, “We noticed that we moved faster when people had clear ownership over specific parts of the business.” 

an org chart with employee profiles helps people stay connected

Level up your workforce planning strategies by equipping your people with the information they need to meet their goals and collaborate with others. 

3) Starburst: Empower Your Managers

At the start of 2021, Starburst announced they had tripled their headcount year over year. Their secret? Giving managers the clarity into how their team’s workforce planning strategy fits into the company’s larger goals.

And that didn’t mean sending over various spreadsheets for team leads to sift through. It meant providing rich visuals via a people analytics platform to drive insights into headcount planning scenarios, team alignment, and future budgets. 

According to CEO Justin Borgman, “you can understand and see things so much faster [with dynamic reports] than trying to figure things out through spreadsheets.” This transparency, of course, helps ensure teams are working together to achieve goals. And with time and people data on their side, managers can make strategic and context-based people decisions that coordinate with the organization’s bigger picture goals. 

scenarios-reports

When conducting a workforce analysis, look no further than your people analytics platform to quickly visualize your people data. 

4) Plaid: Ensure Easy Collaboration

When Plaid’s headcount grew 41% in the course of a year, teams quickly realized they were planning in silos. Originally, HR and Recruiting weren’t aware of proposed individual team changes, making alignment and budgeting difficult. 

Dan Beksha, Head of Strategic Planning, explains: “We were doing everything in spreadsheets and it just wasn’t sustainable as the company scaled. Every team had their own version of the headcount plan in a separate spreadsheet and there was no single source of truth tied to employee data.” 

To solve these disparities in workforce analysis and planning, Plaid chose to invest in a people analytics platform so all teams could work in a shared environment. Now, Plaid benefits from continuous collaboration and all teams using the same people data to make the best decisions for each department and the whole organization. 

Final Thoughts on Strategic Workforce Planning

There’s a lot of things to juggle as a high-growth organization. While you’re focusing on budget, headcount plans, and goal-setting, don’t forget about what’s most important: your people.

And by people, we mean your current workforce and the top talent you’re looking to hire. To help establish a transparent, people-first organization, look to streamline processes, evolve your org structure, leverage your people data, and collaborate across teams. That way, you’ll create a solid foundation as your company continues to grow for years to come. 

To help prioritize your current and future workforce, maintain (or establish) your culture by weaving your values into the entire employee experience.

Learn how here

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