Predicting your workforce needs five years in the future

Kayla Medica · 24 Sep

Knowing what’s coming up in the future gives us peace of mind. It allows us to plan ahead, avoid surprises, and allocate the appropriate amount of time and resources to projects.

The hard part is the work that goes behind finding out what’s coming up in the future. For many businesses, the leadership team is so busy with day to day operations that there just isn’t time to have a chat about what the future looks like in five years. For some, even 12 months into the future is too distant. 

Step one to solving this problem is to make the problem official. Put it in your calendar, invite relevant parties to attend. Set an agenda, and plan the topics ahead of time. 

Some good questions to get the ball rolling include:

  1. What areas of the business are doing well and are ready to be scaled up?
  2. What areas of the business are not doing so well and need some extra resources?
  3. What are our revenue goals for 12 months? Two years? Five years?
  4. Where do we want that revenue to come from? 50/50 from Product A and Product B, or 25% from Product A, 50% from Product B, and 25% from Service A?
  5. What do the sources of revenue need in order to hit those numbers? 

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can take them back to your team and have a look at the talent allocations that need to be made. 

Hiring, shuffling, and retaining

If you need to double the head count in order to hit the business targets, you’ll have a different plan of action to if you’ve got the right number of people but they’re in the wrong areas of the business. 

It’s time to figure out which roles will need to be filled with fresh hires, which can be filled by moving current employees around, and which employees are vital and cannot be lost. 

For all the roles that are necessary to hit the targets, it’s time to do a bit of talent research. 

Demand vs supply

For all the employees you have and need to keep around, do some basic research on job listing sites. Your aim here is to see;

  1. How in demand is this position? 
  2. What’s the current market rate for salary and additional bonuses on offer?
  3. What is the current state of supply for this position? Are there a lot of juniors or seniors?

For any key positions that are in high demand at a competitive rate, you’ll need to create a retention strategy for the employees you’ve already got. Alternatively, you’ll need to create a separate strategy for attracting applicants that will be suitable and top of their class for positions you don’t currently have filled.

Strategies for employee retention

There’s more than just salary options when it comes to retaining employees. Sure, a pay rise would probably go down well, but don’t stop (or even start) there!

Short term rewards

Small, spontaneous rewards can be super effective for lifting employee morale - and get them looking forward to when the next one will be. Think a team lunch or catered breakfast, a small gift (we love giving out cinema tickets for the employee and their family for a bit of weekend fun), or even giving permission to sleep an extra hour and come in late.

Long term rewards

Larger rewards usually mean sums of cash. Whether that’s end of year bonuses, work anniversary gifts, or pay rises, they all work best when they’re paired with short term rewards. 

It can also be effective to pace larger rewards over time. For example, giving a $50,000 bonus, but it’s earned over three years. 

Collaborating with your employees at all levels

If there’s something that’s eating away at one of your key employees, it can be far too late by the time you learn what it is. Holding regular surveys, feedback sessions, or brainstorms with your employees can help you come up with incentives to keep them around. 

Sometimes it’s as simple as switching from granny smiths to pink lady apples in the communal fruit bowl, or switching to three ply toilet paper. Small luxuries add up to a very comfortable work environment your team won’t want to leave. 

Improve your Learning & Development

According to Seek, lack of career progression is the second most common reason for people leaving their jobs. 

Look into implementing new L&D initiatives or upgrading the ones that you have. If your current offering is under utilised, find ways to promote it and make it more accessible. 

For places that really can’t offer anything more than they already are, you can introduce internal programs like taking juniors to customer-facing meetings, allowing more people to sit in or observe management meetings, and hold rounds of feedback on project plans to make employees feel like they’re progressing and being included in more ‘senior’ parts of their job.

Read: How to make a personal development plan guide + free templates

Strategies for attracting new staff

Luckily, a lot of retention strategies make your offering irresistable to higher quality candidates. When your employees love where they work, they talk about it and help your reputation as an employer improve.

Invest in a bit of marketing

There’s a reason so many companies print t-shirts for staff to wear. The commute to and from work can act as a moving billboard for your company. The more than people recognise your company, the more likely they are to click on your job ad when they’re browsing for a new position. 

Upping your presence on LinkedIn and encouraging employees to promote any internal news on the platform can also help. 

Jazz up your position descriptions

It’s time to overhaul how you write your PDs. Make sure you’re removing any biased language that could turn candidates off (we recommend getting people from different demographics, ethnicities, and educational backgrounds to read it and give some feedback!) when they’re in the application stage. 

Consider your corporate social responsibility

Younger generations of workers care more than ever about working for socially responsible companies. Whether you offset your carbon emissions, use recycled office paper, or give everyone in the company a few paid days off each year to use on volunteering, put this in your job ads and publicise it. 

Upgrade your company culture

Take your company culture seriously and nurture it into the next evolution. Refresh your company values if you haven’t done so in a while, revitalise the old social exec responsibilities, and make sure you’re making your culture available to all types of employees. 

Add all the cool stuff you do to your website

Put up a photo of your team in your ‘about us’ page to show off how diverse your team is, make a page to advertise what you do for CSR, and in general just shout how cool you are from every rooftop you can find!

By mixing and matching these strategies, you’ll have the long term dream team your business needs to hit those five year goals.