This article shares why identifying headcount is not as straightforward as it seems and how a good workplace strategy requires repeated investigation.
Headcount forecasts require approval before they can be considered viable, however formal headcount requests can be refused. Often, the realities of headcount do not reflect the official line. So when is headcount, not headcount?
1. Contractors, Interns, Stealth growth
These can be overlooked (or excluded) in headcount forecasting as they can be linked to projected CapEx projects or have approved OpEx budgets re-calibrated during the year to create headcount not considered in, or possibly struck from, the annual round up.
2. Remote Staff
Usually included in headcount, though excluded from real estate calculations. Why provide additional SqM for staff that are never in, right? Not if they need to/chose to come into the office on a frequent basis. Even remote staff need human contact some times.
3. When approval for 1x headcount in Country A might be switched to 2x headcount in Country B. Or not. They are not quite sure.
Fortunately I have found this to have minimal impact. If necessary, your strategy should allow for flexibility in this area.
4. Project Duration
When projects can span 18 months or more, you need to re-visit headcount, preferably every six months to ensure the strategy and project remains fit for purpose. It is easy to draw a line under the headcount at the start of the project and then move in to a space operating at or near capacity. This is not strategic. It does require a project process to be flexible, responsive and open to change.
All this impacts your workplace strategy. If you follow the Finance approved headcount without question, the headcount is likely to be incorrect. The outcome of this assumption is that the space you create will reach its peak sooner than your strategy intended, with associated knock-on to cost, effectiveness, wellbeing and business impact.