External influences on workforce plans

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The market and trends in buyer behaviour

The growth in fairly-traded goods may lead to the relocation of manufacturing, and the need to establish the ethical credentials of suppliers. In the construction industry, there is growing demand for environmentally friendly features and recycled materials. Workers will need to retrain to use new materials and techniques

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New technology

The need to retrain employees may have a negative impact on motivation as well as a direct financial cost
This may lead to the need of better customer support services which may result in changes to recruitment and selection. Since more products are being bought via the Internet, fewer sales staff are needed but after sales service is more important to ensure customer satisfaction. The impact of technology is not always positive in terms of business-to-customer relationships due to lack of job-specific training

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If there is a skills shortage, competitors might attempt to attract high quality employees with attractive reward packages. This can lead to higher labour costs or encourage the business to explore the possibility of attracting skilled workers from other countries or introducing apprenticeship schemes or in-house training programmes.
If major competitors are moving towards a more capital-intensive approach, a company may decide to follow the trend or look for a competitive advantage by retaining a more "personal" approach by retaining a high skilled workforce

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Labour market trends

They will give an indication of the availability of suitable workers in the future. The ageing population has encouraged businesses to re-evaluate their attitude towards older employees who may be motivated by non-financial factors and who have a wealth of experience to offer. The expansion of the EU has led to an increase in economic migrants from Eastern Europe. This has changed the skill-pool available to employers which should be reflected in future workforce planning

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UK government legislating and EU directives

Changes in working practices such as minimum wage legislation, limits to working hours, compulsory breaks and equal opportunities will impact HR plans. Changes in education and training in the UK will have an impact on the supply of skilled workers. Foundation degrees and the diploma programme have been designed to meet future business labour needs

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Trade unions

They are part of the negotiation process in many large organisations and any workforce plans should involve union representatives to ensure that there is minimum disruption and reduce the likelihood of industrial unrest.
They also represent an official channel of communication between managers and employees which should not be ignored, particularly if significant changes in working arrangements are proposed.

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