How Strategic Workforce Planning can help the aviation industry take-off

May 3, 2016 in News for Clients

How Strategic Workforce Planning can help the aviation industry take-off


Employee-related costs constitute the most significant financial outlay for the vast majority of aviation companies. That’s why it’s fundamental to your company’s long-term stability and growth that you wring every last penny of value out of your staffing costs by using Strategic Workforce Planning to analyse trends and plan staff movements far into the future.

What is Strategic Workforce Planning?

Strategic Workforce Planning is an innovative method that enables companies to ensure that their teams are consistently staffed in a way that benefits them in both a financial and operational sense.

It’s a continual, evidence-based process that aligns the needs of the organisation and workforce to make sure that it can adequately meet a whole series of organisational objectives, including those relating to:

  • Legislation
  • Regulation
  • Service provision
  • Production requirements

The aim is to identify the objectives that your company is currently working towards and how they might change in future. You’ll also need to consider what the objectives would be during the transitional period, and what would happen if an unexpected scenario were to arise. Then, use these defined objectives to decide on how best to develop the workforce.

This method can also uncover the reasons behind rates of overtime, absenteeism and generally low productivity. Knowing and acting on this information can help your company build resilience against structural changes, optimising your business ready for future development.

Here are some of the areas that Strategic Workforce Planning can help you with:

  • Size: Make sure your teams have the right number of staff members to complete their duties effectively with little-to-no wastage.
  • Skills: Identify and plug gaps in the collective skill sets of your teams, or make sure that staff with a specific skill set are in the right place to take advantage of upcoming market changes.
  • Shape: Adapt the hierarchy of departments to accomplish strategic aims, encourage career development and staff satisfaction.
  • Site: Ensure the size and composition of your office is optimised to enhance the working practices of your teams.
  • Spend: Make investments with a high chance of healthy returns at the most advantageous times, maximising the funds you have at hand.
  • Timescales: Get ahead of the competition by planning well ahead of time and moving resources to take advantage as soon as a situation unfurls.

Why should aviation companies use Strategic Workforce Planning?

This mantra can be applied to just about any company, but is especially effective when deployed by companies in the aviation industry for a number of reasons, including:

  • Seasonal cycles: The aviation industry works in seasonal cycles, meaning a higher demand for staff at specific points throughout the year. Strategic Workforce Planning can help you get ahead of the competition by securing the best staff well in advance of seasonal changes, and move staff on as soon as the requirement diminishes.
  • Industry growth: Though badly affected by the recession, the aviation industry has bounced back better than most, doubling in size between 2004 – 2014. This growth is likely to continue as austerity eases and new international markets open up, and Strategic Workforce Planning can enable you to beat the competition by placing staff in the right locations at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • Skills shortage: The latest REC UK Labour Market Report (April 2016) points to a worrying trend that goes far beyond the aviation industry. According to the report, temporary and permanent candidate availability across a whole range of sectors has continued to decline for the last 30 and 35 months respectively. A recent AeroProfessional study found that over 50% of airlines believe that the aviation industry is currently experiencing a pilot skills shortage.
  • Oversight bodies: Whether it’s an international regulator or sovereign political body, the aviation industry can be severely impacted by changing requirements and relations. Strategic Workforce Planning lets you be as nimble as these bodies and move resources to reduce costs in defunct areas and expand in burgeoning markets.
  • Scenario planning: Of course, it’s a fact of life that the aviation industry can be massively affected by natural disasters, conflict and safety concerns that can change the market at the drop of a hat. Strategic Workforce Planning can enhance your reputation by enabling you to react to changes in a timely fashion, or let you gain a strategic advantage by being the first company to adapt operations as a scenario develops.

For those without experience, Strategic Workforce Planning can be a tricky calculation of employee recruitment, promotional and turnover patterns. These figures need to be set against upcoming aviation industry trends and projected forward for three, even five years, with all potential variables taken into account. This analysis must then be aligned with business needs and desired outcomes to come up with a final plan. There’s a reason that not all aviation companies are engaging with Strategic Workforce Planning– it’s a lot of work.

Call on the experts at AeroProfessional and find out how we could help you secure long-term employment stability and growth with Strategic Workforce Planning.


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