What is SWOT Analysis and How Can You Use it in HR?

When you hear the term S.W.O.T., what do you think of? Business planning? Personal development? Marketing strategies?

A S.W.O.T. analysis can be used in all those industries, but it can also be used in human resources. S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. So conducting a S.W.O.T. analysis in HR can help you identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Still sound like a bunch of business jargon? Don’t worry. We’ll explain how you can effectively use this tool in your role as an HR rep. You’ll learn what your company needs employee-wise and what resources you already have. After analyzing your company, you’ll be able to define and plan for your organization’s goals.

Look at your organization’s strengths and weaknesses

In a S.W.O.T. analysis, the strengths and weaknesses are considered internal factors, as opposed to opportunities and threats, which are external factors. Your organization’s strengths and weaknesses come from within the company.

Here are some factors that you should assess. Would you consider them a strength or a weakness in your company?

Turnover rate

What’s considered a low turnover rate or a high turnover rate? You might measure your company’s turnover rate against other HR departments and national averages for your industry to get an idea of low, high, and average rates. Then you’ll have an idea of what you’d like the company’s turnover rate to be, too.

Reputation in the job market

What are your current and former employees saying about the company? Check reviews on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably, or Kununu. Do a Google search of the company name along with “job” or “hiring” as well. You’ll get a sense of your organization’s reputation in the job market that way.

Of course, you’ll know whether your company’s reputation is a strength or a weakness based on these reviews. Have a lot of 5-star reviews from happy employees? Great, count it as a strength. Have a lot of dissatisfied, below-average reviews from a few employees? It’s a weakness you’ll need to work on.

Employee morale

Similar to the company’s online reputation, you may want to investigate employee morale. How do your current employees feel about their job and the company itself? An anonymous employee survey can help you gauge their morale.

Again, you’ll know if employee morale is a strength or weakness. If most employees are happy with their daily workload and satisfied with leadership and the direction of the company, that’s a strength. If employees are unhappy with the culture, management style, hours, or pay, that’s a weakness.

Onboarding and training resources

Sometimes identifying one strength or weakness can lead you to another. Maybe you’re investigating employee morale when you realize that many employees are unhappy with the lack of opportunities for professional development. Or new employees feel unprepared for the job after their onboarding process was completed.

HR performance and operations

Is the HR department performing as well as it can be? Are you limited by your budget? Do you feel supported by leadership?

The performance of the HR department can affect your other strengths and weaknesses. For example, recruiters who consistently bring in top talent are probably very helpful and supportive to applicants and candidates. That can keep turnover rate low, employee morale high, and build an impressive reputation in the job market.

Making the most of your strengths and weaknesses

Now that you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses, what are the company’s short-term HR goals? Long-term HR goals? If your company’s reputation in the job market is suffering and you’re lacking training resources, you might set a short-term goal to boost employee morale and push for better training and onboarding. A related long-term goal would be to become an employer of choice, where employees are eager to work for you and continue their careers with you.

Identify your organization’s opportunities and threats

Next, you’ll look at external factors that can either help or hinder your organization: its opportunities and threats.

Changes in laws

Look at any possible changes in local, state, or federal employment laws. How will they affect your workforce? Hiring strategies? Pay scale? Scheduling?

What’s in the community

The community can be the physical neighborhood in which your office is located, the city, state, or your company’s industry. Is the neighborhood on the rise, driving up rent prices, but also bringing more of your target demographic into the area? Are more people moving into your city or state from elsewhere, giving you a more diverse pool of jobseekers?

Also, are more companies popping up in your industry, which may be a threat to your business? They may also compete with you when hiring new employees for similar skills and positions. Or is your company bringing something unique to the market, giving you a leg up over the competition?

New technology

Whether new technology is considered a threat or an opportunity depends on your industry. A new piece of technology that fulfills a customer need may be a threat to a tech company and an opportunity for a like-minded company that could use the invention.

Dealing with threats and opportunities

You can’t always protect yourself from all external factors because, well, they’re external. Sometimes you don’t have any say over certain things like federal employment laws or the number of competitors in your industry.

What you can do is prepare for the worst. Your first step is conducting this S.W.O.T. analysis, so you’re already on the right track. Then, you can build strategies for coping with threats should they actually impact your organization.

Is a competitor poaching some of your talented employees and snatching up potential candidates from the job market? You’ll need to fill those positions and make sure that your organization remains stable without those employees. Your strategies will need to deal with the outcome and minimize its effects at the same time.

Don’t just conduct a S.W.O.T. analysis for the sake of it. Use what you learn to create action plans. Figure out how you can take advantage of your organization’s opportunities by harnessing your strengths and improving on your weaknesses. Craft backup plans in case any threats impact your business. Your organization will become better for it.