Even if your company can say they’ve successfully weathered the economic storm of 2020, we’re all bonded by the uncertainty companies surely felt at some point this year. Get this: 70% of HR executives understand the need for workforce transformation, but only 37% of these same leaders are confident their HR departments have the ability to make future progress.

Companies that were smooth sailing at the top of 2020 suddenly experienced furloughs, layoffs, budget cuts, and considerable dips in morale, leaving you to wonder, “are my top team members looking elsewhere?” and “What will we look like on the other side of 2020?”. The hard truth is that the effects will linger into 2021, and you need stability to start the year.

Executives and HR Managers need to know that talent costs and goals align across the organization. That’s where headcount planning comes in! You need to be sure you have the right number of people with the right skills in the right roles so your company can execute its business strategy.

Creating a headcount strategy going into the holidays and to close out the year is the best way HR Managers can make sure they start 2021 off right. Follow these holiday headcount strategy tips to close the year out right.

Identify Your Current Challenges

When identifying your current challenges, ask yourself these questions:

  • How are your customers’ needs evolving?
  • How has your competition evolved?
  • Are you in need of new tech, automation, or other innovations?
  • Do you need to grow within your current market or expand to new markets?
  • Do you need to add products or services or focus on what you have?

After you answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what your team will need to handle.

Establish Your Metrics. All Metrics.

Your headcount planning strategy needs to be free of bias, guesswork, and any room for error. Establish the metrics by which you’ll determine if your current teams are appropriately staffed going into the holiday season and, if not, the difference between where departments currently perform and where they need to be.

To get started, focus on:

  • Position requirements
  • Performance metrics
  • Skill sets, certifications, licenses
  • Turnover rates
  • Opportunities for growth and succession planning
  • Salary data

Then, put those metrics to work and think outside the box. Which roles are critical right now? Which positions can you do without? If you’re experiencing high turnover, what’s the leading cause? Is there room for growth within positions? Look at the metrics you’ve gathered and see what it says about the current state of your team.

Identify Skill Gaps

Any changes you’ve already seen in your company throughout 2020, along with any changes you anticipate, could create massive skill gaps within your team. When supply chains break, for example, sourcing becomes the priority. When sales departments lose clients, suddenly cold calls and attracting new business becomes the priority. If your current team isn’t ready for these changes, you’ll need to respond accordingly.

Work with management, as they can identify these gaps best! They’ll recognize changes in their department’s needs and help align current employee strengths to close the gaps and identify when there’s a need for new talent.

Project Total Costs

Once you acknowledge your business challenges, metrics, and skill gaps, it’s time to project how much you’ll have to dip into your budget to close the holidays and the year. Sourcing, hiring, onboarding, and training probably won’t cost the same for your department as it did pre-COVID. You may need to try new agile, efficient, and cost-effective tactics to meet the moment. Prepare yourself to start at square one. If you already have a talent pipeline, it’s time to utilize it and attract passive, interested talent.

The Best Strategy For Normalcy

Headcount planning is the best way HR departments can feel a sense of normalcy and control nearing the end of a very uncertain year in talent acquisition. Your headcount strategy makes a direct connection between strategic organizational priorities, budgets, talent management, and it can align leadership at all levels to manage the needs of individual departments and the company as a whole.

When you have a clear roadmap for success, along with metrics to refer to, your company is sure to maximize on the holiday hiring season and start the new year with the talent you know will help you reach your company-wide goals.

This article was originally published on the IQTalent Partners blog.