Manpower Planning Process – Problems, Barriers and Solutions

The centrality of manpower in production process of corporate entities has long been acknowledged by organization managers and administrators. It is an on-going process (integrated approach), not a once and for all phenomenon. Its process involves interrelated activities and the plan must continue to be modified to meet prevailing circumstances. As a plan, it is embedded with implementation programmes designed to ensure availability of adequate qualified persons. Such implementation programmes include recruitment and selection (employment) of required skilled personnel to perform jobs that will allow the enterprise meet both the corporate and individual goals. The plan implementation programme also entails training and development of personnel and performance appraisal as well as other related personnel administration functions.

The term ‘Manpower Planning’ at organizational or corporate level is also known as micro-human resources planning and it has much to do with personnel management or personnel administration. The terms “manpower, ‘human resource”, and personnel management or personnel administration refer to the same activities concerned with managing people at work. As such the terms can be used interchangeably. On this basis, Manpower Planning and Human Resources Planning are the same phenomenon.

The main benefits or purposes of manpower planning are:

  • To control labor costs and enhance efficiency by ensuring that only the most essential and required personnel are hired and retained
  • To increase productivity by matching people with jobs that truly exists and is adequate for them.
  • To provide a lead time to recruit and train workers ahead of need.  Required skills are thus provided for in advance
  • To provide a basis for other plans, such as plans for facilities, desks and office accommodation, and assist in their formulation.
  • To anticipate and overcome redundancies.  The information provided about future manpower surpluses and redundancies in particular area could be used by management to plan a retraining programme for those who would be rendered redundant by changes in technology and company reorganization.  Such people can then be made available for jobs in which they are needed.
  • To show the implications of retirements and promotion plans in terms of management development and succession planning.

Manpower Planning Process

1. Estimating Manpower

Employment or Manpower planning is the process of deciding what positions the company will have to fill, and how to fill them. Manpower planning covers all future positions from maintenance clerk to CEO. However, most companies call the process of deciding how to fill company’s most important executive jobs succession planning.

Employment planning should be an integral part of a firm’s strategic and HR planning processes. Plans to enter new businesses, build new plants, or reduce costs all influence the types of positions the firm will need to fill. That also meant they needed plans for who to hire, how to screen applicants, and when to put the plans into place.

One big question is whether to fill projected openings from within or from outside the firm. In other words, should we plan to fill positions with current employees or by recruiting from outside? Each option produces its own set of HR plans. Current employees may require training, development, and coaching before they’re ready to fill new jobs. Going outside requires a decisions about what recruiting sources to use, among other things.

2. Job Analysis

Job analysis is the fundamental process that forms the basis of all human resource activities. In its simplest terms, job analysis is a systematic process for gathering, documenting and analyzing data about the work required for a job. The data collected in a job analysis, and reflected through a job description, includes a description of the context and principal duties of the job, and information about the skills, responsibilities, mental models and techniques for job analysis. These include the Position Analysis, Questionnaires, which focuses on generalized human behavior and interviews, task inventories, fundamental job analysis and the job element method.

Job analysis is the procedure for identifying those duties or behaviors that define a job. Aside from verifying the fairness of selection procedures, job analysis is the foundation of virtually every other area of industrial psychology, including performance appraisal training and human factors. Additionally, job analysis is the basis of job evaluation, the procedure for setting salary scales.

Information about jobs can be collected in a number of ways such as potential sources: observation, individual interview, group interview, technical conference, questionnaire, diary, critical incidents, equipment design information, recording of job activities, or employee records. Possible agents to do the collecting are professional job analysis, supervisors, job incumbents, or even a camera in the work place.

3. Recruitment

Recruitment is the process of identifying the prospective employees, stimulating and encouraging them to apply for a particular job or jobs in an organization. It is a positive action as it involves inviting people to apply. The purpose is to have an inventory of eligible persons from amongst whom proper selection of the most suitable person can be made.

Before you think of inviting people to apply for a job you have to decide what types of persons are to be invited and what their characteristics should be. This calls for fixing the ‘job specifications’ which may also be called ‘man specifications’. Job specification will be different for each job.

  • Physical Specifications: For certain jobs some special features may be required. For example, for assembly of a TV set or some other electronic equipment good vision is required, for a typing job you need finger dexterity, for a heavy job you need a strong, heavy and thick-set body. The particular physical abilities and skills necessary for a given job have to be specified. These may refer to height, weight, vision, finger dexterity, voice, poise, hand and foot coordination, etc.
  • Mental Specifications: These include intelligence, memory, judgment, ability-plan, ability to estimate, to read, to write, to think and concentrate, scientific faculties, arithmetical abilities, etc.
  • Emotional and Social Specifications: These include characteristics which will affect his working with others, like personal appearance, manners, emotional stability, aggressiveness or submissiveness, leadership, cooperativeness, skill in dealing with others, social adaptability, etc.
  • Behavioral Specifications: Certain management personnel at higher levels of management are expected to behave in a particular manner. These are not formally listed but have to be kept in mind during the process of recruitment, selection and placement.

Besides, there are two categories of sources of supply of manpower-Internal and External.

  1. Internal Sources: These include personnel already on the pay-roll of the organization as also those who were once on the pay-roll of the company but who plan to return, or whom the company, would like to rehire. These include those who quit voluntarily or those on production lay-offs.
  2. External Sources: These sources lie outside the organization, like the new entrants to the labor force without experience. These include college students, the unemployed with a wider range of skills and abilities, the retired experienced persons, and others not in the labor force, like married women.

4. Selection

Selection is the process of examining the applicants with regard to their suitability for the given job or jobs and choosing the best from the suitable candidates and rejecting the others. Thus, you will notice that this process is negative in nature in the sense that rejection of candidates involved.

It is the process of securing relevant information about an applicant to evaluate his qualification, experience and other qualities with the view of matching with the requirement of a job. It is the process of picking out the man or men best suited for the organization’s requirement.

The selection process involves rejection of unsuitable or less suitable applicants. This may be done at any of the successive hurdles which an applicant must cross. These hurdles act as screens designed to eliminate an unqualified applicant at any point in the process.

Those who qualify a hurdle go to the next one; those who do not qualify are dropped out. The complexity of the process usually increases with the level and responsibility of the position to be filled.

  • Initial Screening or Preliminary Interview: This is a sorting process in which prospective applicants are given the necessary information about the nature of the job and also, necessary information is elicited from the candidates about their education, experience, skill, salary expectation etc. If the candidate is found to be suitable, he is selected for further process and, if not he is eliminated.
  • Application Scrutiny: Different types of application forms are used by the organization for different types of positions/posts. Some forms are simple, general and easily answerable, while others may require elaborate, complex and detailed information. Sometimes applications are asked in plain sheet.

Application forms are designed to serve as a highly effective preliminary screening device, particularly when applications are received in direct response to an advertisement and without any preliminary interview.

5. Training

Systematic training and development of organization employee is the foundation of efficient and effective utilization and productivity of corporate personnel. To be effective in meeting organization goals of efficiency and increased productivity, cost-effective in operations, training must not be conducted in ad hoc and haphazard manner. It should be a deliberate policy instrument designed to meet training needs of individuals, organization and a technologically changing environment of production.

The training progremmes should be appropriate and adequate to solve corporate training needs arising from the requirements of newcomers, shortfalls in employee performance, organizational change and the individual workers expressed or observed needs.

Training is a learning process which aim at helping employee to acquire basic skills required for efficient execution of the functions for which employee are hired; while development deals with activities undertaken to expose employees to be able to perform additional duties of managerial and administrative nature in the near future.

Training efforts are geared toward acquisition of manipulative skills, technical knowledge, problem solving ability and attitudes. While development is designed to prepare employee to assume position of responsibility of supervisory and leadership natures. The two techniques of learning are usually planned by the organization to improve competence level of employee. The third learning method is the education method.

Problems, Barriers and Solutions to Manpower Planning

Manpower development is the core element of a business that helps to shape and lead the future of any organization through the use of its people. Successful manpower development could result in high production and long-term future growth for business. However overcoming these challenges means understanding the vision of the business and how to best forecast future events in manpower planning. Planning helps management with the right number and the right kind of people at the right place in business.

Hiring the “Right Fit”

The approach to developing manpower should include hiring a person who not only has the acquired skills necessary to perform the job but also is a good fit for the organization. Organizational fits are very challenging because the individual not only has to be qualified but they must be able to adapt and adopt the culture of the organization. Accepting organizational culture is critical, because it is often a determining factor in an employee remaining with the organization. Maintaining effective manpower is equally as important to recruiting right person for the job.

Employee Turnover Plan of Action

Employee turnover happens for various reasons and is inevitable in manpower development. Some of the causes are controllable factors, while many of them are hard to foresee. It is harder to identify or forecast the death of an employee or an illness that leaves an employee in an incapacitated state, because it can happen at any time. Developing a plan of action in manpower development that negates these factors can be difficult. Ensuring that the employee turnover does not impact the manpower in the out years of business is the biggest dilemma.

Continuing Education

With constant changes in technology, business professionals need to keep up-to-date by taking courses designed to improve their technical skills and knowledge. Programs such as the Microsoft Certified Professional certification provide comprehensive training, practice and testing opportunities to business professionals seeking to further their careers. Flexible alternatives such as web-based training, coaching and mentoring or recorded multimedia sessions enable busy professionals to train for an advanced role or even a career change.

Leave/ Work Schedules

Offering work schedules that stay abreast of workforce trends is challenging, because it requires research and understanding of the workforce needs. If leave policies or work schedules are too lenient, it could impact the production of business in a negative way.

Rising Costs

Global organizations face rising costs and need to plan effectively so we can efficiently recruit and hire the best manpower, both permanent and temporary. Fewer management layers and less support staff make it more difficult to provide new employees with the personalized attention they typically need to get started. Self-paced training courses that provide details about how to use company tools, such as email or accounting systems, often replace instructor-led classroom sessions. Workers may not have an office at the same location as their manager and rely on web conferencing software instead spending the extra time and expense to travel to a common location for meetings. Employees need training and tips on how to use these alternatives effectively.

Changing Priorities

Companies typically set strategic goals on an annual basis. Training programs should be aligned with strategic plans. For example, if company executives want to see an increase in customer satisfaction, training professionals should focus on identifying problems in providing customer support proficiently. Then, we can design training courses and career development opportunities that help employees learn the best techniques for troubleshooting problems and handling customer complaints skillfully. Once operational metrics improve, the focus may change to other areas, such as reducing product defects or eliminating waste.