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As human resource planning is a function of human resource management this essay will start with a short introduction of the latter. It will then define the human resource planning and describe how it has evolved over the last thirty years. This essay will continue to explore the human resource planning process and describe its aims and benefits. It will describe each of the stages that companies go through to come up with a human resource plan, by taking into consideration, stocktaking, forecasting, planning and implementation.

A graphical picture will be presented to show the linkages between each stage and some of the methods that are used to calculate turnover or wastage in forecasting will be presented. Challenges faced by human resource specialists in drawing up their plans will be described and some of the labour market trends that affect recruitment in organisations will be analysed. It will explore issues such as changes in demographics, diversity in the workforce, globalisation and the advancement of technology.

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It will also discuss the lack of skills and experience that will arise due to the emigration, the older working age generation and the impact that will be felt in the planning process. Recruitment and selection challenges facing organisations in Ireland will also be explored and potential problems that may arise in the future due to this recession will also be discussed. Introduction Human resource planning is a function of human resource management hence a short introduction of this subject is imperative.

Human resource management has evolved considerably over the past century and has experienced a major transformation within the past two decades. From being a primarily administrative position as personnel management, it has become more strategic[1] in nature as organisations strive to increase productivity, improve service and ensure that companies adapt to the ever-changing business conditions. Whilst personnel management aimed at establishing and maintaining equitable terms and conditions of employment, human resource management integrates the traditional personnel management functions to corporate goals and strategies.

According to Torrington et al, 8th edition, human resource management is not easy to define[2] as the term is commonly used in two different ways. On one side it is used to describe the body of management activities covered in books and on the other, it is used to represent a particular approach to management of people. Human Resource Planning Human resources are considered to be the most valuable, yet volatile and unpredictable resource of an organisation[3] hence human resource planning plays a significant role in achieving organisations’ objectives.

In the 1960s[4], a manpower planning process appeared with the idea of achieving a match between manpower demand and supply[5] and in the 1980’s[6], the term changed to human resource planning. . At the time political correctness was being introduced and it was inevitable that an alternative term to manpower planning needed to be found[7]. Although both terms differ in their strategic approaches and purposes, common areas exist.

Julie Beardwell et al (2004) define human resource planning as the ‘process for identifying an organisation’s current and future human resource requirements, developing and implementing plans to meet these requirements and monitoring overall effectiveness’. It is really about getting the proper ‘fit’ between the work to be done and quantity and quality of people necessary for success[8]. It is based on the idea that a balance needs to be achieved between the supply and demand of human resources.

It forces organisations to make a thorough analysis and study the current situation in terms of internal resources and how they are utilised. The central purpose is to match knowledge and skill supply to the organisation’s knowledge and skill demand as selection of the wrong candidate can lead to serious inefficiencies and possible business failure. Managers analyse business plans and consult other personnel to obtain information about their human resource needs. They make decisions about what is required and identify appropriate sources of supply.

It is essential that they understand company’s objectives so that they complement their own plans with an overall strategy that is clearly defined. Managers, however, need to appreciate that both the business and human resource plans are interdependent entities that are continuously changing. At the best of times planning is difficult and in periods of economic uncertainty like at present in Ireland, it is even more challenging. In certain cases, organisations do not even know if they will be in business four months down the line which inevitably makes planning almost impossible.

On the other hand the principle of not planning at all is not realistic. Walker (2000) argues that human resource planning facilitates the reduction of human resource costs through the anticipation of shortages or surpluses as they can be amended before they become unmanageable and expensive. That it provides a basis for planning employee development activities and improves the planning process as well as providing equal opportunities to employees and promoting greater awareness of policies and activities throughout the company. Human resource planning process

As human resource is deemed to be the most important resource in a company, this means that human resource planning is one of the most important processes[9]. The bridging of gaps between demand for and supply of human resource leads to development of plans that are produced by those who understand these objectives. It is therefore essential that human resource plans complement the overall business plan. The four stages identified by Sisson and Storey (2000) are stocktaking, forecasting, planning and implementation. These four stages are described in the following paragraphs. (Annex A)

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