Change was the only constant during 2021. Most businesses felt that in a variety of ways: employee attrition, continuing safety concerns due to the pandemic and shifting priorities for where and how work got done. Throughout a tumultuous time for the world, it was essential that companies kept a pulse on their organizational health and found innovative ways to support their teams. As we dive into headcount planning season, it's worth considering what aspects of organizational structure best served companies in 2021 and how those characteristics can inform not only the process but also the priorities of planning for the future.
Amid “The Great Resignation,” many companies have been scrambling to fill vacant positions before ensuring an effective organizational structure. In fact, a 2020 survey of more than 600 talent acquisition professionals found that 68% are now focusing on short-term hiring needs. Instead of thinking holistically, businesses are trying to stop the bleed. But by adding talent to meet immediate needs, rather than connecting the hiring plan to long-term business goals, organizations risk high turnover, low morale and poor customer satisfaction. What’s more, when companies hire without a plan, they are more likely to overhire.
A robust organizational structure equips companies for growth and change because the structure:
- Outlines critical roles and aligns them with business priorities.
- Makes it easier to anticipate talent needs and hire strategically.
- Offers transparent pathways to career growth.
- Provides visibility to ensure manageable workloads across teams.
For example, when it comes to aligning roles with priorities, visualizing your company's organizational structure offers clarity around which areas are staffed in line with those priorities and which need attention. Using technology like a people analytics platform, businesses can fill in existing employees on an org chart and leave spaces for hiring plans, providing a big-picture view of where you are and where you’re going. That perspective facilitates a sustainable plan for hiring, onboarding and training as your business scales.
Employee expectations have transformed over the last decade, with team members seeking clear paths to growth and development, along with overall transparency regarding company-wide initiatives, including DE&I efforts. And more than ever, job candidates are looking for more than a paycheck — they want to work for companies that share their values and purpose. One way to enable that transparency is by unlocking access for all employees to visualize your current organizational structure as well as plans for growth so they can more easily identify internal mobility opportunities.
Access and engagement aren't just important to employees and candidates — they empower managers to lead with confidence driven by data. Instead of burdening HR teams with requests for information, managers need direct access to find data about employee satisfaction, compensation-leveling needs and performance. Visualizing these key data points gives managers insight into the strengths and needs of their direct reports to support ongoing conversations about organizational growth.
Using effective organizational structure to power your headcount planning
What does organizational structure have to do with headcount planning? An effective organizational structure facilitates productive, data-driven headcount planning that begins with aligned stakeholders, prioritizes retaining and developing current employees and prepares the company for the unexpected.
- Practice data-driven planning: Most HR teams spend a huge amount of time planning to plan — manually assembling data needed for the process, while contending with human error and out-of-date information across dozens of spreadsheets. That’s part of what makes annual planning so onerous. With an effective organizational structure powered by a people analytics platform, you can visualize all your information with easy-to-run reports that surface data at a granular level to facilitate decision-making.
- Prioritize people: For too long, headcount planning was merely the domain of the finance department, but the future of your organization involves a variety of stakeholders. Retention and turnover have a significant impact on business growth. Implementing short, periodic employee surveys will help you assess your team’s needs so you can take care of the employees you have and fill any gaps. Meanwhile, managers empowered by access to data can offer planning recommendations to keep span of control and workloads manageable on their end.
- Prepare for the unexpected: The pandemic brought on immediate, unforeseen changes to business, with more than half of companies redistributing their workforce as a result. By incorporating technology that lets you try out multiple planning scenarios, your team can evaluate the options, offer feedback, make changes and implement decisions all in the same place, without searching through a mess of documents and email threads for input.
Planning is often treated as an annual headache, kept stagnant by time-consuming processes and opaque data. By maintaining a robust organizational structure using tools like people analytics, your business can approach planning confidently, with informed stakeholders and accessible information to make choices that support the people who power your organization.