Infield practical study conducted on manpower planning activities

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Management manpower planning refers to the identification of current and future job requirements, assessment of internal human resource capability in relation to those requirements, and institutionalization of management development/management succession framework. (Stybel,1982). It means putting right number of people, right kind of people at the right place, right time, doing the right things for which they are suited for the achievement of goals of the organization. Manpower planning provides the key to managerial functions (i.e., planning, organizing, directing and controlling). It helps in the effective utilization of resources resulting in higher productivity. It also provides motivation among employees and creates better human relations. Effective use of the workforce is often the crucial factor in a company's long-term success over its competitors, especially in technology driven and highly competitive industries (Mundschenk & Drexl, 2007).


Manpower planning is very useful for human resource management especially in large organizations. Manpower models are used to analyze the future needs of manpower in organizations and it is important to determine the manpower needs as it is crucial for several managerial functions. Manpower planning models also aids in optimum use of available human resources. Some manpower models are also concerned with the prediction of the future behaviour of the staff.


In this literature review, we analyze the various models of manpower planning put forth by researchers and compare and contrast these models with relevance to specific industries.

Literature Review

Manpower planning

According to De Feyter (2006), manpower planning is done in three steps. Firstly, the demand of personnel in the future is estimated by trying to get an insight in the employees needed to fulfill its objectives. Secondly, the supply of personnel in the future is forecasted: The organization needs to get an idea of what will happen with its present and future personnel. Especially, leaving the organization and acquiring qualifications are important for manpower planning. In the third step, the organization has to compare demand and supply in the future and take actions to attune both. According to Gregoriades (2001), Manpower planning is nothing but ensuring that the correct number of people are working at the right place at the right time and this requires forecasting of human resource requirements using appropriate analytical tools and techniques.

Employers are looking at workforce planning software to provide more stability in meeting both their short and long-term talent needs, after massive layoffs during the financial crisis. Based on an article by Frauenheim (2009), though the tools, which tend to focus on either short range or long term planning aren't perfect, workforce management software is selling at a brisk pace. Vendors like Vemo, Infohrm Group and Human Concepts, are pitching products to help companies in workforce planning. 

Factors influencing manpower planning

Several factors influence the manpower planning. According to De Feyter (2006), the behaviour of employees is the most important factor that influences manpower planning. The two most interesting potential flows of an individual are 'leaving the organization' and 'develop a broader range of skills'. Those transitions influence, respectively, the quantitative and qualitative supply of manpower. This behaviour highly depends on the individual. Moreover, several factors cause differences among employees in, for example, motivation, performance or commitment and these personnel heterogeneity makes the manpower supply forecasting difficult (De Feyter, 2006).

Manpower planning models

Manpower models are mathematical representations of the relationships of a manpower system and the representations are in the form of mathematical equations which express themselves the manpower process (Gregoriades, 2001). Manpower systems are considered as complex systems in which their counterparts interact with each other to accomplish the desired outcome.

Several manpower models have been proposed by researchers over the years and most of them are based the Markov model. Gregoriades (2001) describes that Markov model start with a given group of employees that exist in a level of the organization; given the flows in and out of each level, (i.e. recruitment and promotions from outside the system together with wastage) they estimate the population of the level in the future. This type of model is useful when the knowledge of existing employees is available together with the possibilities of flows between succeeding years and required future manpower is not known (Gregoriades, 2001). Markov based models can be applied to almost any business environment but it involves complex mathematical analysis.

De Feyer (2006) focuses on Markov model for manpower planning. Employees may leave the organization, get promoted or acquire more and new skills and this behaviour of staff can vary a lot among different employees and this makes prediction of employee behaviour difficult (De Feyter, 2006). According to De Feyter (2006), it is common to tackle this problem by dividing the whole heterogeneous personnel system in several more homogeneous subgroups. In his paper, De Feyter (2006) suggests a procedure for dividing the personnel system into more homogeneous personnel categories. A general framework is suggested to partition manpower data in order to handle heterogeneity in employee behaviour and to improve predictions of future behaviour. This approach is used to develop manpower planning using Markov models for prediction, control or optimization.

Stybel (1982), paired the concept of Maccoby's management classification scheme with the concept of product life cycle, in order to facilitate manpower planning in the high technology sector. According to Maccoby's management classification scheme, high-technology managers can be classified into different groups based on varying degrees of personality combinations. These types are then assessed for their suitability to manage various aspects of a product life cycle, such as Market Development, Maturity and Decline. Therefore, a link between the fields of corporate strategic planning and manpower management is created in the model by Stybel (1982). However, this model is a highly theoretical and conceptual model with limited applicability.

Both Stybel's (1982) paper and De Feyter's (2006) paper have a similar view that manpower planning depends on the personality and behaviour of employees. However, De Feyter (2006) gives a more practical tool for actual prediction of employee behaviour and thereby, enabling manpower planning effective.

Micro-manpower planning is another concept that has become popular and it consists of organizational theory and mathematical modeling into a cohesive and practical application format for practicing administrators (Kahalas & Leininger, 1975). It enables a process for helping individuals and firms to play an active role in developing integrated approaches and facilitating interrelationships within an organization.

Manpower planning in specific industries

The ways in which manpower planning is done differs from one industry to another, due to several factors such as differences in the level of skills utilized, time needed for manual work and so on. From Stybel's (1982) manpower planning concept, we have already seen the manpower planning model for high technology industry.

In the healthcare sector, the role of manpower planning is of high importance. Soberg & Bennington (2009) described a predictive model for HR planning in the healthcare sector. The HR metrics used in the staffing model by Soberg & Bennington (2009) are employee turnover, leaves of absence, retirements, productivity, recruitment of new employees, and position growth. Flynn, Kellagher & Simpson (2010) suggests a set of tools that shall help manpower, workload and workforce changes and decisions. Basically, five workforce and workload planning tools have been mentioned by Flynn et al. (2010) and these are based on professional judgment, quality of service provided, timed clinical are care activities and other skill based performance indicators.

Manpower planning is an important part of after-sales field service support with a service guarantee. According to Tang, Wilson & Perevalov (2008), accurate field travel distance approximation lowers the manpower level. Tang et al. (2008) introduced a simulation model to study the relationship between staffing level, travel distance, and percentage of customers serviced on time and it is proven that the proposed travel distance approximation model performs much better than the other classical models used for planning manpower in this sector.

In most of the companies, manpower planning does not require formation of an independent department, what it wants is a manager or an executive responsible for studying trends, identifying and calculating Manpower requirements. The responsible person must know the duties of the company and be acquainted with its objectives. He or she should understand what's involved in training and career development and should be capable to design certain career programs to improve the basic capabilities, develop professional competence and teach new skills. It is very much essential for the successful execution of the job that the planner has to be very clear and up-to-date about the organisations objectives. Through skilful career guidance, the planner has the leverage to encourage supervisors and managers to prepare for the best.

The manpower planner organizes in the following areas:

Maintenance of a good data base for the Organisation's human resources

Responsibility for acquisition, retention and career development of the company's talented people like engineers, scientists, key managers and executives.

Has to supervise the design of various training programmes.

Surveys of current economic and social conditions and their trends.

Trends that impact manpower planning

A manpower planner should include the following variables:

The state of economy: It is based on the size of the organisation, the larger the company's sphere of operations, the broader the spectrum of economic activity to be considered.

Demographics: On the basis of age and gender we need to group them accordingly

Employee losses or Turnover: Due to Retirements, Deaths, Promotions and Resignations, it can affect the current number of individuals employed at every level.

New skill requirements: What new skills will be needed can be an issue if there is a change in technology, markets or products.

Obsolescence of current skills and its effects: Due to automation of technology, current skill can become obsolete and can alter the current number of employees.

Technological changes: Due to technological changes, introduction of new machines, methods or materials can make employees looses their current skills

Social changes: Due to upgrading of educational backgrounds, it can have an effect on the willingness of people to take menial or other types of lower level jobs.

Labour costs: Respective and due allowances have to be made for getting net manpower requirements.

Problems within Manpower planning:

Accuracy of forecasts: If the forecast are not accurate, planning will not be accurate.

Inaccuracy increases when departmental forecasts are merely prepared without critical


Support of Top Management: Manpower planning requires full & wholehearted

support from the top management. In the absence of this support & commitment, it

would not be possible to ensure the necessary resources & cooperation for the

success of the manpower planning.

Resistance from Employees: Employees & trade unions resist manpower planning. They feel that this planning increases their overall workload & regulates them through productivity bargaining. They also feel that it would lead to wide spread unemployment, especially of unskilled labour.

Insufficient initial efforts: Successful human resource planning flourish slowly & gradually. Sometimes sophisticated technologies are forcefully introduced just because competitors have adopted them. These may not be successful Unless matched with the need & environment of

the particular enterprise.

Expensive & Time consuming: Manpower planning is an expensive & time consuming process. Employers may resist manpower planning feeling that it will increase the cost of manpower.

Coordination with other managerial Functions: There is generally a tendency on the part of the manpower planners to remain aloof from others operating managers& to become totally absorbed in their own world. To be effective manpower planning must be integrated with other management functions.

Field study carried out at the New Zealand Mushrooms Morrisville.

As per for a better understanding of the scenario an infield study was performed at the New Zealand Mushrooms. The study was aimed at the Human resource activities performed so as to meet the man power requirement in the company. This company was targeted as it employees around 200 workers a year as there is a high turnover in the employees. The employees working in the company are classified into 5 sectors being: Harvesters or Pickers, Shed Handlers, Packers, Disease team and watering team. The number of employees working in each sector varies, but the 75% of the recruitment happens towards harvesters. The harvester's team in the company is divided into 4 and each team consists of about 15 players. Two of these teams' works during the weekdays and two works during the weekend. Week End Harvesters are the once showing a higher rate of turnover as they are usually part timers and mostly students. The company conducted an exit survey at the time each member resigned so as to understand the various reasons why the turnover was much high at this regard. The reasons were different like found an easier job, a better paid job, a better status related jobs etc. The other sectors did not show that much turnover comparing to harvesters as they were all better paid. The company had to spend heaps in training a person for 2 months and during this period he was paid more comparing to a usual worker Once he/she is out of training, he/ she will be paid less but is capable of gaining bonus for an extra kilo picked above the benchmarked pick. This was introduced so as to increase the pick rate of the player and thereby increase the potential of each player. But the training pay was a big loss to the company if he/ she resign within a short period of joining. The problem of high turnover still exists and to deal with this the company introduced a new system of employing people where the people are only hired to harvesting sector and depending on his or her performance they would be promoted to other sectors where they can earn better . Above this the eligibility to attain sick pay and annual leave were raised to six months so the employees had to stick at least for a time of six months to utilize this. Also to meet the emergency of fewer harvesters in a team, the teams were allotted with an extra harvester thereby increasing the team size to 16 and the weekday harvesters were called upon if there were further short of people during the weekends for an extra pay.

The following norms did help New Zealand Mushrooms in bringing down the employee turnover to a great extent. But they are still seeking and analyzing better solution to zero the situation.