What Exactly is Manpower Planning and How it is Useful

Manpower planning
Manpower, if used to its fullest potential, can prove to be a great resource of economic output for a business as well as for a nation. Manpower planning, thus involves optimum use of available human resources.
Manpower is a basic and primary resource of any kind of setup, be it a business or an entire nation. It is such an important asset that without it, all the other assets such as capital, machinery, etc., can never function. In fact, manpower and the inflow of money are two concepts that are closely interlinked to each other.

Money cannot be generated without the production of goods and services, a responsibility which rests solely on the shoulders of the manpower. This is why, even if a small section of the company's labor force is unhappy, it can result into a huge loss to the entire business. And this holds true not only in case of businesses, but also in case of society on the whole.
Meaning and Definition
The term 'manpower' relates to the actual people working in an organization and may be defined as "the sum total of the skills, qualifications, creativity, talents, cognitive abilities as well as the beliefs and values of the workforce of an organization." Planning on the other hand, is nothing but making adequate and efficient use of the available assets of an organization to ensure a smooth and successful achievement of all its objectives.
manpower planning - conceptual image
Planning involves coordinating, motivating and deciding a line of action with regards to the various activities within the organization. For instance, in a manufacturing firm, parameters such as time required for acquiring the material, capital and machinery are taken into consideration. A manager has to reasonably predict future events and plan out the production process.

'Manpower planning', also known as 'Human Resource Planning', thus pertains to predicting the amount of workforce needed and deploying the adequate amount of labor for a goal that needs to be achieved. In the process, the skills of people forms a very important aspect in deciding whether they are suitable for the job or not.
manpower planning - conceptual
E.W. Vetter, a distinguished management writer, has defined the process of manpower planning as, "the process by which management determines how the organization should move from its current manpower position to its desired manpower position. Through planning the management strives to have the right number and the right kinds of people at the right places, at the right time doing things which result in both the organization and individual receiving the maximum long-run benefit."
Aims and Objectives
Manpower planning relates to planning about, and for, the organization's workforce. So, it involves planning, both for the company and for its labor (individual needs, necessities, etc.). Following are some of the basic aims and objectives of manpower planning:
  • To ascertain why predicting future manpower requirements is essential, and to analyze whether the company has the required number of employees or not.
  • To ensure that existing employees of the company are best suited for their respective job profiles.
  • To ensure that sufficient information regarding skills and qualifications of all the employees is available with the company, so that it can make optimum use of its human resources, thus increasing efficiency and productivity.
  • To find appropriate solutions for problems, regarding staffing deficits and redundancies.
  • Providing training to staff from time to time, to facilitate good performance and higher efficiency.
  • To make and implement policies for recruiting new personnel in an organization, and also suggesting promotion, transfer and succession policies for the existing employees.
  • To generate new vacancies, in cases of diversification or expansions, and to make retention policies in cases of consolidation.
  • To anticipate whether new employees are needed or minor shuffling of employees within the departments can do the trick.
  • Provide adequate and fair growth and development opportunities to individual employees by providing them with necessary facilities and incentives which would boost their morale.

Thus, manpower planning is an essential and inevitable aspect that facilitates smooth and efficient functioning of the organization.
Steps Involved
Three basic steps are involved in the process of manpower planning of an organization. These include the following:
  • Depicting and analyzing organizational hierarchies is the first and the foremost step in manpower planning. This helps in planning budgets according to different organizational levels.
  • Studying the staff of the entire organization, in terms of job profiles, qualifications and levels of experience, is another important step. This ensures optimum utilization of organization's human resources.
  • Making and efficiently implementing recruitment plans is the third step in the process of manpower planning. This involves, making accurate predictions, taking decisions on whom, when, where and in what position to hire.
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Advantages of Manpower Planning
advantages of manpower planning
Given below are some of the advantages of proper manpower planning:
  • It facilitates effective and optimum utilization of human resources of an organization.
  • It is a device that can efficiently manage the expenses of an organization on labor and recruitment.
  • It ensures sound workforce management at all levels of the organization, right from the top management to the lower non-managerial grades.
  • It provides individual employees with opportunities of growth in their respective careers.
  • It also assists in the decision-making process by the management in issues regarding staff facilities.
  • Proper manpower planning boosts the morale of employees and ensures stability in employment.

The entire process of manpower planning, however, suffers from a major drawback. The very soul of manpower planning is forecasting, and that in itself is very unreliable. It is very difficult to make long-term predictions owing to the dynamic nature of markets, economic policies, and so on.
Manpower Planning at the National Level
Manpower planning may be undertaken at different levels and for different purposes. Apart from the organizational level, manpower planning can also be carried out on a bigger scale, at the state level, and on an even bigger scale, on a national level. This manpower planning, that is done at the national level, is also called 'macro-level planning' owing to the scope of its operations.
manpower planning - an illustration
  • Macro-level human resource planning is done by the government of the country.
  • This kind of planning is generally undertaken to deal with national issues such as economic development, demographic estimations, migration patterns and so on.
  • Manpower planning at the national level helps to keep the needs, necessities and facilities provided to the population in sync with the changing trends in world economy and the markets.
  • It gives the governments an idea of what needs to be done in order to improvise on both, the individual standard of living and the overall competitiveness of the nation in global markets.

It is however, needless the say that even the macro-level manpower planning is based highly on projections and so, may not be always perfect. Nevertheless, it does provide the government of the nation with an aid to cope with the fluctuations in economic trends.
Thus, the process of manpower planning is an important tool that enables the organizations to make vital and crucial decisions on the basis of future predictions. Though, these predictions might not be always perfect (owing to various uncertainties in global markets), the parameters on which they are based are profound and solid. Hence, even if there is a risk involved in the process, it also helps to a great extent in the smooth functioning of an organization and the nation as a whole.
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