Manpower Planning and Forecasting in Retail

Today’s retail stores have developed beyond one man show to an extent that even a small departmental store involves four to five employees. Human resource plays an essential role in any organization especially in retail. Therefore it is very important to ensure that retail stores have the right number and right kind of people. Manpower planning and forecasting helps an organization in appointing and maintaining an optimal team of employees for comfortable working of a retail organization.

The manpower planning process starts from the analysis of personnel structure of an organization. While framing the manpower requirement the framework considers internal factors like size of a store, number of categories, and number of SKU’s in each category and the level of skills required to a particular level that is structured in the framework. Apart from the internal factors there are some external trend factors which affect the process of planning like employee turnover, new skill requirement, social and economical changes. Planning is an ongoing process.

Once a planned frame is developed for a store, the next step is to ensure a continuous supply of manpower including planning for the contingencies. Now forecasting, as a part of planning becomes important. There are various factors to be considered before using any of the forecasting techniques. The internal factors can be budget constraints, production levels, new products and services, organizational structure and employee separation. The external factors include competition environment, economic climate, laws and regulatory bodies, technology changes and social factors.

Manpower forecasting consists of two aspects – manpower demand forecasting and manpower supply forecasting. Manpower demand forecasting includes determining the staff mix to be appointed, to access various staffing levels, and avoid unnecessary costs and develop an action plan to prevent shortage of people. Some of the techniques are: –

1. Management Judgment – In this case store level managers or floor level managers provide their recommendations as per their experience. As per the review across the senior management, the final numbers of the manpower for a particular store can be concluded.

2. Ratio trend analysis – Application of ratios on the past data helps in developing insights and predictions for the future.

3. Work study technique – Under this technique, the work measurement is studied and factors like length of operations, standard hours, output per hour and man-hours required are calculated for future predictions.

4. Delphi Techniques – This technique solicits estimates from a group of experts, and Human Resource Planning experts normally act as intermediaries, summarize various responses and report the findings back to experts.

5. Flow models – This technique involves the flow of following components. Determine the time required, establish categories, count annual movements and estimate probable transitions. Here demand is a function of replacing those who make a transition. Manpower supply forecasting is a process of measuring the number of people likely to be available from within and outside the organization after making allowances for absentees, internal movements and, promotions, wastages, changes in hours and other conditions of work. Some of the internal sources are – Human Resource audit, inflows and outflows, turnover rate and job movements. External sources include – new experiences, replenish lost personnel, consultants, college and university potential.

In a retail store sales associates or frontline team is the backbone of retail business. The overall customer relationship with the store is on the shoulders of frontline human resources. They require regular training and development in consideration with organizational goals as well as their personal goals. Hence it is very important to use the planning and forecasting as a tool to have the right skills at the right place in a store or department.

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