A:

Human resources (HR) planning is an ongoing process. This is particularly true for companies with large workforces when labor mobility and turnover rates create very real and near-constant hurdles. Considerations also have to be made for economic uncertainty, such as recessions, shifting consumer tastes and competition from other firms, which could affect a company's demand for labor.

There are different stages of HR planning. From a large-picture perspective, the values and mission statement of the company eventually reflect on the type of employees brought on board and the type of development that takes place once they arrive. From there, the labor market must be scanned for talent, and the general business atmosphere needs to be evaluated. Human resources focuses on human capital, but the business' needs for human capital are influenced by major external economic forces.

Human resources is also concerned with limiting liabilities and building contingencies. Human beings are unpredictable and so is their productivity. Absenteeism, lawsuits, lack of motivation, illnesses, transfers, terminations and retirements must be considered before they are realized.

The strategy should constantly re-evaluate the effectiveness of existing leadership and the impact of the business culture on labor productivity. Human capital is no good if it does not function properly. Internal analysis is particularly important for companies with slim margins, where any dip in productivity could have significant ramifications.

Once all of these stages are identified, implementation becomes another major obstacle. Training programs need to be built and tested. Technology needs to be included to increase operational efficiencies. An HR department should have clear benchmarks for implementation and a way to measure progress toward them. These processes never cease being relevant.

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