In The Workplace

What’s in store for us in people management in 2024? What are the challenges that we should identify and manage as regards manpower needs?  — White Lady.

You can’t do manpower planning as a standalone program outside of HR planning and the organization’s annual strategic planning exercise, which is a must for every organization. However, it sounds to me that you are making do with what you have in terms of focus and time.

Manpower planning is a critical step in hiring new employees or transferring current ones to more suitable posts so the organization can maximize their contributions. This can’t be done without reference to recruitment, training, compensation, and career development needs.

Without manpower planning, HR may not be in a position to serve the needs of other departments. This means that HR must work closely with others to anticipate their future staffing needs, like nailing down the actual number of workers needed for a particular month of each year, if you want to be specific about it.

No organization can afford to be overstaffed or understaffed. If an organization has more workers than needed, productivity falls — a problem difficult to detect unless management is actively looking.

The same thing can also happen with understaffing, which can cause service or product quality to deteriorate. Understaffing can also increase overtime costs and impose physical strain and stress on overworked employees.

To avoid this, manpower planning must be conducted objectively. HR must be at the forefront of defining worker competencies and the cost of training or other interventions to create the desired result.

For example, in January and February, what do we expect to happen? Off the top of my head — employees may elect to resign or management may initiate temporary rightsizing. Employees, after receiving their yearend bonuses and all their benefits (like exhausting accrued vacation leaves) are prone to moving to other employers.

On the other hand, temporary rightsizing happens when management decides to reduce staffing, including contractuals and agency workers during the first two or three months of the year, when demand for the company’s products or services is low.

Thus, it is a must to raise the following questions:

One, how many employees (both regular and contractual) are needed by the organization to meet its objectives every month, quarterly and on an annual basis?

Two, what jobs will these people need to fill? How many are in operations, sales and marketing, or other departments?

Three, what knowledge, attitudes, skills and habits will new hires and transferees be required to possess?

Four, can we promote people from within rather than hire outsiders? If that’s possible, how do you intend to make it happen?

Five, if you intend on sourcing from a manpower agency, what’s a reasonable ratio to maintain between contractual and regular employees, if only to avoid legal complications?

Six, if you intend to ask agency workers to become part of your regular workforce, how do you intend to assess them?

Seven, what kind of training would you need to offer to minimize the skills gap? If defined, who among your senior employees can train people?

These are some of the basic questions you must explore. The critical questions vary with organizations, depending on their culture, industry positioning, market power and other demands of a competitive environment.

In conclusion, manpower planning boils down to forecasting, except that it’s not an exact science. Like weather forecasting, it is subject to many uncertainties and inaccuracies. That’s why an HR person needs judgment, supported by input from department managers who know the ins and outs of their staffing requirements.

However, an HR person should be cautious about relying too much on the ideas of these department managers, who could be engaging in empire building. They may hold the mistaken belief that having more employees ensure quality and productivity.

If you want to test this proposition, try computing that department’s turnover rate. You’ll soon discover the truth about every manager’s claims.


Bring Rey Elbo’s leadership program called Superior Subordinate Supervision to your team. For details or other workplace questions, chat with him on Facebook, LinkedIn, X (Twitter) or e-mail or via