Workforce Management vs. Workforce Planning: What’s the Difference?

Odds are that you’ve heard the terms “workforce management” and “workforce planning” being thrown around a lot lately. But what do they even mean? And what’s the difference between them – if any? It’s true that these terms have been getting more attention lately – and for good reason. There are so many benefits to both workforce management and workforce planning that they deserve all the attention that they’re getting. At the same time, the terms can get a little bit fuzzy and confusing, especially if you’re new to the business world or human resources. But don’t worry – we are here to help straighten everything out for you. So here’s a quick guide on workforce management versus workforce planning, including the similarities and the differences between the two:

What Is Workforce Management?

Workforce management is an aspect of human resources where the goal is to ensure that a company always has the right people doing the right job at the right time. Workforce management focuses heavily on scheduling in order to avoid staffing issues like overstaffing and understaffing, although there are other aspects involved as well. For example, workforce management can also involve things like payroll and timekeeping. Overall, the goal of workforce management is to optimize and streamline a lot of these human resources tasks so that it’s quick and easy and can therefore save you time and money in the long run. 

What Is Workforce Planning?

On the other hand, workforce planning is different from workforce management in quite a few ways. Workforce planning involves a company making sure that the needs and priorities of the company are aligned with those of its workforce so that it can meet all of its objectives, projections, and goals as efficiently as possible. Workforce planning involves a lot of planning for the future. One of the biggest components of workforce planning is taking a look at your workforce now and trying to anticipate any future staffing gaps that might occur in the future. These gaps could occur from people leaving due to regular turnover or retirement. Or gaps could occur if you expand into new areas and need new employees with different skillsets to fill those gaps. Workforce planning tries to anticipate these gaps so that you can have a game plan ahead of time and aren’t left playing catch up when an employee unexpectedly leaves. 

The Rundown

Now that we’ve covered some of the key differences between workforce management and workforce planning, we can cover some of the similarities between the two. These two concepts are actually really similar in terms of the main benefits that are enjoyed by companies who practice them. The two main goals are to increase profit and productivity. And although they each go about them in different ways, every business wants to increase their profit and efficiency – making them both extremely valuable.

Even though workforce management and workforce planning might look different in practice, technology can play a big role in implementing both of them properly. If you were to implement either one of them manually without any technology, it would be very challenging, tedious, and definitely not efficient. The good news is that there are tools and software out there for each one that will help a company manage their employees now and also help plan for the future. 

At the end of the day, both workforce management and workforce planning are valuable concepts that every business should be incorporating. While workforce management deals with managing the workforce as it exists now, workforce planning deals with planning for the future. Both of these concepts can be better managed and implemented with the right technology. 


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