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What Is Strategic Workforce Planning? 5 Steps for Successful Planning

It’s a fact that all jobs are not equally essential to the survival of a business. For example, research by Bain and others have indicated that fewer than 5% of an organisation’s roles account for more than 95% of its ability to execute its strategy and deliver results.

Accordingly, the question that every business leader must answer is which 5% applies in my organisation? And what is being done to ensure that the talent pipeline is healthy with talents to fill these roles today and tomorrow?

The business world is complex, and only the proactively strategic will thrive in it. Companies that thrive in today’s complex business environment are constantly rethinking which skills will be most important to enable them to navigate the murky waters of the future.

As a result, these companies proactively develop these skills in their workforce and actively recruit them. I n all, the discipline that caters for this crucial task of developing and recruiting future talent is termed Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP). 

What is Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP)?

Strategic workforce planning enables businesses to map out what is required in terms of talent to deliver the business strategy and achieve the company’s long-term goals.

A good workforce plan looks at what’s required from the workforce perspective to build and sustain a competitive advantage for the organisation. It focuses on the strategic capabilities a business will need to master to accomplish its goals and the moves required to deliver those capabilities. 

 In a nutshell, strategic workforce planning is about ensuring your organisation will have : 

The ‘strategic’ element of strategic workforce planning means looking significantly further ahead than the typical short-term hiring plans. For example, a good strategic workforce planning uses a three- to five-year outlook instead of just a one-year view. 

Questions & Actions Arising from Strategic Workforce Planning

Accordingly, questions arising from strategic workforce planning include: 

Correspondingly, actions arising from strategic workforce planning will include: 

When these conditions are met, your workforce will be better poised to deliver on your business goals effectively for the long term.  

Considering how vital an SWP is to the long-term health of an organisation, let’s explore the steps you can take to develop your workforce planning process. 

5 Steps for Developing Your Strategic Workforce Planning

First, ask, what’s the long-term business strategy .

Considering that strategic workforce planning caters for the future staffing needs of an organisation, the very first step to creating your SWP is to define the organisation’s long-term goals clearly. The fastest way to develop your long-term business strategy is to ask the question: Where do we see ourselves in the next five years? 

Decisions concerning the organisation’s long-term goals are not to be made trivially. Schedule time away from the daily grind to plot your company’s five-year goals. 

 Some insightful questions to ask your team include: 

Next, conduct a current-state analysis

conduct a current-state analysis 

After establishing where the business is going, the next stage is to evaluate what you currently have in terms of people and skills. This step is called a current-state or internal supply analysis.

When evaluating your talent supply, do it by job role rather than a person; this will help you remain objective. Then analyse the capabilities the employees in those roles have right now and compare them to what you need them to be to execute your business strategy. 

Decide on which roles qualify as your 5% 

What roles are most critical to your organisation’s current and future success? Deciding which positions are essential in your organisation  or those most crucial to moving toward your goals mustn’t be done hastily.

Instead, together with your team, take the time to think carefully and answer the following questions:  

Analyse the gaps and the risks

This stage is usually the most eye-opening. If, after analysing, you find a skills gap between what you have and what you consider that you’ll need, take time to explore the possible ways by which you can close those gaps.

Some organisations will require training their employees ; for others, it will require hiring new talent to close those gaps.

It is vital to identify the external factors  that may endanger your strategy at this stage. Examples of external risks include changes in the labour market, alterations in economic or political conditions, evolving industry trends or new government legislation.

To effectively weigh the implication of these external risks, get your leadership team to share their topmost concerns. Then, as a team, determine which are most relevant or potentially catastrophic to your business. After that, you may follow up with scenario planning and proactively decide how to take action. 

Finally, draw up an action plan

After careful analysis of your most critical roles and skills, it’s time to start prioritising and implementing your action plans. 

The burning questions to answer are: 

We recommend that you draw up specific, appl i cable, attainable, quantifiable, and time-bound goals  to guide your efforts. Then, once the wheel of progress starts rolling, do all within your power to ensure that it continues to roll. If you fall off the wagon by any means, make the necessary adjustments and get back on track. 

 In Conclusion

The future is uncertain. As a result, strategic workforce planning is highly iterative in practice. However, more important is that once conversations around strategic workforce planning begin, it will change the organisational mindset.

These conversations create the right conditions for managers to think deeply and systematically about the workforce and what it takes to move the organisation forward. 

If you need further clarifications or require the help of our senior and experienced consultants, please reach out to us at [email protected] .

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What are the steps in workforce planning.

Speaking of workforce planning strategy, we can draw an analogy with the lighthouse: the strategy tells us the direction. It can show the stones and rocks that are on the coast, but only the ship’s captain decides how to guide his boat past the rocks to his destination. In this blog post, we’d like to deep dive into workforce planning and its planning stages.

What to start with

Workforce planning has a straightforward purpose and reasoning behind it. It must ensure that your company has the right people and those people have the right skills. It’s an integral part of HR management and provides the context for other HR activities like talent acquisition and employee development.

The planning process must be enterprise-wide. It requires effective communication between the HR team and top management as well as input from key stakeholders.

We agree with  CIPD : Workforce planning processes, when done right, can reduce labor costs, respond to changing customer needs, improve employee retention, and their work-life balance.

Unfortunately, despite its importance, the workforce planning asset is often not carefully planned, measured, or optimized,  SHRM  states. Many organizations are not sufficiently aware of the current or future workforce gaps that will limit business strategy execution.

Where this process starts and ends or what to consider when workforce planning

Consider the following factors during the workforce planning process:

Workforce planning encompasses such processes as analyzing the current workforce and determining future needs, identifying gaps between status-quo and destination point, designing and implementing solutions to accomplish the goals, and finally, fulfilling the strategic plan through the proper use of talent.

Step-by-step guide

Step 1: supply analysis.

At this step, analyze the current company’s state and the external factors like market and economic situation to understand the business’ environment.

Internal factors  determine how the workforce is structured at the current moment in terms of gender and age rates, specialization, and location. Another internal factor is labor costs that incur wages and other workforce-related costs. Internal factors include organizational structure, i.e., how the recruitment process works.

A vital internal issue is attrition rate, i.e., how many people leave you and for what reasons. Flow analysis also belongs to internal structure – how the workforce moves within the company and how positions change.

External factors  are best estimated via PESTLE analysis:

Step 2: Demand analysis

At this stage, you forecast the future HR needs: workforce skills a company needs to cope with market challenges, number of employees, their roles, and possible HR scenarios.

Earlier, to define the HR strategy and the employee skills gaps, you had to talk to line managers.

Even now, when asked, “What skills should your employees learn to be more effective a year from now?” the top managers often answer generically, e.g., “Communication” or “Time management.” But in reality, they need a particular skill on a more senior basis. What does a person have to do to make you assess a “good level of communication” for that particular function? English proficiency/customer relationship building/sales skills/non-conflict communication skills?

Step 3: Gap analysis

In this step, you analyze the competencies a business needs and what skills are at your hand. A recent  Future of Jobs report  states that by 2022, almost 54% of all employees will require considerable re- and upskilling.

Here are a few gaps you can analyze:

You may be working with only one of these gaps. But this list helps you look at the question from different perspectives and double-check yourself. Understand what is valid for your company and what is not.

Step 4: Solution analysis

Well, the information has been gathered and analyzed. Now it’s time to think about strategies for overcoming difficulties:

You should look at the organization holistically. Let’s give an example. A company X needs to rewrite an existing codebase into another programming language. They decide to actively hire a dozen of developers of a certain specialization. Six months later, it turns out that the strategic plan hasn’t been thought through, and the company hasn’t suitable positions for these people.

The mistake was that the company switched to hiring without thinking that there’s a large layer of developers inside the company whose specialization is losing its popularity and customer demand. They  could have been retrained instead . At least, it would allow the company to reduce the recruiting costs, to save the existing employees, and, thus, to prevent the reputational risks.

Workforce planning isn’t just about recruiting.  Mercer  explains: “It can’t just be about employee capacity and business unit alignment, workforce planning must recognize employees’ potential and engagement and be intertwined with the company’s technology roadmap.”

The current state of workforce planning technologies

Earlier, the HR departments worked with Performance and Potential Matrix — the nine-box matrix or HR3P matrix, that displayed employee performance and potential in a single model. Today it is a doubtful approach since it evaluates the people too judgmentally. But can you imagine that… ( Global Talent Trends Report 2020 )

Sadly, not all companies have the HR process fully automated. Many still do not have an automated data warehouse and have to extract, process, and manually put together the data. That is much slower and risks losing important information.

It demonstrates, to assess the performance, potential, and future-orientation of your employees, you have better start using a smart workforce planning tool — HR dashboard. It is the most real, applicable, and effective tool for reflecting the existing skills, revealing the hidden talents, and forecasting your employees’ future needs.

On a conceptual level, an HR dashboard is filled with data from various sources, such as the payroll system, candidate tracking system, and other information systems used in HR. Based on this information, HR metrics are calculated and displayed. This data is then extracted; information is transferred and uploaded to a data lake or data warehouse. Finally, a  specially designed software   uses this information for reporting.

A quick test, let’s say you are a CEO. Can you answer three questions in 17 seconds as clearly and concisely as possible? — What percent of your workforce work for your long-term business goals? What amount of employees need to be up-skilled? How many people do you need to hire in 5 years? We tell you.

Workforce planning is the process of analyzing an organization’s workforce and identifying the steps to be taken to prepare for future needs. This process helps you understand where to go and how to move, so you don’t have to spend your recruiting and HR team’s resources on something that the company doesn’t need.

As you see, knowledge of hot skills, market demand, and own skill gaps help people to be ready for the new challenges. To achieve a smooth working structure that functions like a swiss clock, you have to conduct workforce risk analysis, i.e., demographics, retention, career bottlenecks. Then, you must identify and prioritize the workforce gaps, e.g., locations, job roles, skills. Finally, via visualization of insights, you will drive the strategic, data- and AI-based decisions.

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More From Forbes

14 essential steps in workforce planning.

Forbes Human Resources Council

Workforce planning requires in-depth insight into what a company needs in terms of talent and skills. This kind of planning generally adds a level of abstraction to operations, allowing HR a bird's eye view of the business.

From there, HR administrators can determine whether a hire is a good fit overall, not just because of their qualifications — several aspects are typically considered, including where the company is coming from and where it is headed, as well as the employee’s own goals and dreams and how they fit with the organization.

Here, 14 experts from Forbes Human Resources Council examine some of the key steps in workforce planning and why they are so crucial to the organization’s success.

Members share some essential workforce planning steps for HR leaders.

1. Ensure Alignment And Goal Clarity

The most critical step in strategic workforce planning is alignment — alignment of business strategy, organization structure, people and results. Ensure clarity around strategic objectives, then ensure you have a holistic organization design and talent plan to drive getting the right people in the right role at the right time to deliver results. Sounds easy but takes discipline! - Elisa Gilmartin , Fuze

2. Understand Where The Company Is Headed

Strategic workforce planning is a key component of the overall talent strategy. It starts with understanding where the company is headed; future organizational capabilities. This helps the organization identify new skills and competencies needed to inform learning and development opportunities and its talent acquisition strategy. - Sarika Lamont , E3/Sentinel

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3. Execute A Current State Assessment

Executing a current state assessment in workforce planning is absolutely critical as many workforces tend to jump into planning without truly understanding what resources they have in the first place. An organization needs to understand who they have in place right now, where they're going and how they’re developing to create a more accurate plan of action for the future. - Srikanth Karra , Mphasis.com

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

4. Create A Staffing Model

It's essential to create a staffing model to predict and drive workforce planning. For example: how much revenue can an account executive generate, or how many calls can a customer service specialist take per day? Along with revenue and operating plans, answers to questions like these help shape your strategic workforce plan, for both headcount and timing. Without them, it's just a guess. - Jennifer Marszalek , Working Credit NFP

5. Determine Current Talent Gaps

To create the right workforce plan, you need to identify your organization's current talent gaps and needs and understand how those relate to your strategic roadmap. If you determine something is in conflict, then you can create the right plan to focus on uptraining your current team or hiring new team members with that missing expertise. - Jessica Adams , Brad's Deals

6. Identify The Long-Term Needs

Identify the long-term needs of the business beyond the next step. Research and awareness of the long-term future will allow you to take the next step in your workforce strategy knowing what you need to develop in the workforce for the step thereafter. When we just plan for tomorrow, we are behind the change curve because development and hiring for the future must be one step ahead of tomorrow. - David Alsop , Ultradent Products, Inc.

7. Challenge The Status Quo

The expectation must be set up front that we need to think differently about workforce planning. Then, challenge the status quo and try to really evaluate where people are really needed, why, how and how many. - Lotus Buckner , NCH

8. Ensure All Data Is Collated In One Place

The first crucial step in strategic workforce planning — and where many companies run into a roadblock — is making sure all the information is collated in one place to perform that planning work. That marrying of human capital, workforce management and financial data is not always easy to accomplish based on different systems in place. - Jeremy Ames , Hive Tech HR

9. Start At The Finish Line

Start at the finish line. You can't know when you've arrived at your goal if you don't know where that is. If you start with the finish line, you can work backward to figure out what you need and when. - Elizabeth Roberts , eGenesis, Inc.

10. Focus On Core Competencies

Understanding where individual team members rate against specific core competencies necessary for driving the business allows you to understand which competencies you need to add going forward and in which department. Focus on the trio that makes up a competency — knowledge, skills and abilities. - Sherrie Suski , Tricon American Homes

11. Think Beyond Hiring New Talent

Think beyond hiring in new talent. This is one lever, and an important one, but not the only option — certainly not if you want to retain and engage your current talent. Invest in developing their skills, knowledge and experience so that they can rotate and enjoy a variable career journey within your organization rather than going external. - Paul Phillips , Avanade

12. Constantly Follow Through And Pivot

One essential step in strategic workforce planning is the follow-through with evaluating, monitoring and making ongoing adjustments to the workforce plan. Ensure regular performance monitoring on the implemented solutions to identify if gaps are addressed. A workforce plan should be ongoing and fluid to pivot as the strategic direction, workforce supply and workloads change over time. - Sherry Martin , Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS)

13. Consider Your Budget And Forecast

The most critical step is to consider your budget and forecast for the second half of the year. Before hiring and moving back to business as usual, companies need to consider their needs for six, 12 and 18 months out and take into account employee retention, internal promotions and internal lateral moves. Retention and investing in employee growth are key to profit increase and workforce planning. - Polina Wilson , Unruly ®

14. Consider Your Company's Site Strategy

Considering your company's site strategy is a major component of workforce planning that tends to be overlooked. Where do you want your people? Which groups must be co-located? Should you pivot to a remote-first environment? Many companies are looking at this now, and rightfully so. Clarifying the company's philosophy on site strategy is closely tied to both business and workforce planning goals. - Tracy Cote , Zenefits

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7 Steps For Successful Strategic Workforce Planning

Strategic Workforce Planning

In a business environment that is constantly evolving, you need to be smart about who you’re hiring and how they can help you achieve your business goals.

This means putting careful thought and consideration into the (future) skills of your workforce: the employees you already have on board, the ones that need further development, and the ones you still need to hire because you’ll need them in the near future.

That’s where strategic workforce planning comes into play.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the advantages of strategic workforce planning and we’ll give you a 7-step plan for success.

What’s in?

Before you continue

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Strategic workforce planning definition

Before we dive into the topic, let’s quickly clarify what workforce planning is.

In simple words, workforce planning is the process of analyzing your current staffing levels and anticipating future hiring needs, to make sure that you’re not overstaffing, neither understaffing and that you’re not creating a skills gap when hiring new employees.

Strategic workforce planning also helps uncover the training needs of your current and future employees and aligns your recruitment strategy with your company’s strategic goals.

Listen to our 7 steps for a successful Strategic Workforce Planning on Recruitment On The Go ! 

Advantages of strategic workforce planning.

Strategic workforce planning is about making sure you’ve got the right number of people, with the right skills, at the right place at the right time so that they can deliver on the organization’s business goals.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of strategic workforce planning.

Cost optimization

A rather obvious benefit but nevertheless important one to start with. Strategic workforce planning enables you to, among other things:

All these elements combined lead to a significant reduction and/or optimization of costs.

of companies have made good or significant progress toward goals of building a workforce to meet future business objectives.

Source: Oxford Economics

However, a majority of companies have only made slight or moderate progress. Strategic workforce planning can speed up this progress significantly.

Dealing with demographic and workforce changes

Strategic workforce planning allows you to – at least to a certain extent – prepare for demographic and workforce changes.

Think of the aging workforce , for instance.

In the US, about 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 on a daily basis and in the European Union, 16% of the total workforce is made up of workers who are aged 55+. 

This so-called silver tsunami is undoubtedly going to create some serious challenges for HR, the main one being filling the talent and skill gap that’s left behind by retiring Baby Boomers.

The same thing goes for the phenomenon of generational diversity in the workplace .

Companies increasingly employ people from up to four different generations, from Baby Boomers all the way to Generation Z – and it’s no surprise that each generation has their own unique skills, style, needs, and goals for employers to take into account.

Strategic workforce planning enables you to anticipate these changes and get ready for them.

If, for example, you know that 5 of your senior managers will retire in three years’ time, you can start preparing for that right now.

Perhaps you’ve already got the right people to replace them among your current employees. Or maybe they still need some further training in order to be fully equipped for the task. Or perhaps you will need to hire people externally.

Whatever it is you need to do, you can plan for it. 

The state of diversity recruiting in 2020

steps in strategic workforce planning

Having a long-term recruitment strategy

Unforeseen, premature departures aside, strategic workforce planning allows you to put a long-term recruitment strategy in place.

However, this is not something HR can pull off all by itself. On the contrary, a well-structured, long-term recruitment strategy requires a company-wide collaboration ; the different departments in the company need to be aligned and their individual processes need to be streamlined.

Ideally, you even have a long-term plan to deal with unforeseen, almost immediate departures.

By implementing a strategy that foresees a backup in terms of skills for as many positions in the organization as possible, for example. So that whenever someone leaves, there is at least one other person in the company with the skills to fill the gap (until a more sustainable solution is found, of course).

Having a long-term recruitment strategy also involves internal recruitment .

Internal recruiting tends to take less time and cost less money. On top of that, it encourages employees to really go for it and get the best out of themselves in order to get promoted.

Another advantage of having an active internal recruitment strategy is its positive impact on your employee retention: opportunities to learn and grow are one of the top three factors in retaining, among others, Millennials.

In other words: your strategic workforce planning should be just as much – if not more – about developing and upskilling your current workforce as it is about hiring new people.

of companies say they need to improve workforce planning capabilities.

Source: Aberdeen Group

For example, better access to workforce data to improve decision-making can help companies bring their strategic workforce planning to the next level.

Steps to successful strategic workforce planning 

Now, how to get started? We’ve listed 7 steps:

1. Consider the long-term goals of the organization

Like we’ve said at the beginning of this article, strategic workforce planning is about making sure your people are able to deliver on the business goals of the organization.

So it makes sense to start with those business goals, right?

Where is the company headed in the short – and longer-term? What does it want to achieve and what does it need in terms of human capital to achieve this?

This is also why it’s important to get all stakeholders on board before you start with strategic workforce planning if you really want to get the ball rolling. You’ll need to have buy-in not only from HR but also from finance, operations, line managers and the C-suite.

of best-in-class organizations integrate their formal talent management strategy with the organization’s business strategy.

Source: SHRM

Talent management strategy is an integral part of strategic workforce planning. By aligning it with the overall business strategy, organizations are able to stand out among their competitors in the war for talent.

2. Analyze your current workforce

What does your workforce look like at the moment? What people and skills do you already have in your organization? Strategic workforce planning starts with your current employees.

Talent analytics , and more in particular workforce analytics, can be very useful here. It will give you insights about, among other things: the age demographics of your workforce, its seniority profile, the type of contracts and their evolution.

When it comes to analyzing your current workforce, there are two key areas to explore in particular: the quality of the workforce and the quantity of the workforce.

The quality of the workforce is about assessing your employees on current performance and future potential. Who are your high performers? Do they have high or low potential? Depending on the answer, they’ll have different (development) needs.

Talent analytics can be useful here, too, as it will help you identify what the key drivers of performance in your organization are.

The quantity of the workforce is, as the description suggests, about assessing the quantity of your workforce including new hires, employee turnover, and internal promotions.

For a more in-depth explanation – including practical examples – of how to assess the quality and quantity of your workforce, check out Erik van Vulpen’s guide to strategic workforce planning . 

3. Find future skills gaps

Once you’ve mapped out your current workforce including their skills and needs, you’ll be able to plan ahead. At least in terms of potential skills gaps.

If you conduct a skills gap analysis , you will know when people will retire, for instance, and you can already start thinking of how to fill in the gaps they’ll leave behind. Are you going to use gig workers and shift to a more project-based kind of employment? Or do you prefer training existing employees?

Or perhaps a combination of both?

Another factor to take into account here is the global digitalization and technological developments. This will create a (digital) skills gap that needs to be filled, something that has been confirmed by various research studies.

The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report , for instance, stresses that by 2022, it is estimated that 54% of all employees will require considerable re-and upskilling.

of organizations expect automation to lead to the creation of new roles in their enterprise.

Source: World Economic Forum

The workforce is transforming due to automation, which means that the need for up- and re-skilling will be omnipresent.

4. Prepare for different scenarios

The future is unpredictable, of course. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for various (unexpected) scenarios.

Take a supermarket cashier, for example. Supermarkets are increasingly installing self check-out machines so their customers can scan (and pay for) their products autonomously.

In terms of strategic workforce planning this means that you can already anticipate:

But being prepared for the unexpected goes beyond industry-specific developments. 

It also entails scenarios such as a sudden, significant change in your company’s financial situation or, on an even bigger scale, a global economic slowdown.

And, more generally speaking, there are the rapid technological developments and automation replacing and/or changing jobs.

However, as much as this will change the world of work as we know it, it is unlikely that every job affected means that the person having that job will be fired.

Instead, it’s up to HR – and their strategic workforce planning – to start anticipating right now and to come up with a combination of attrition, retiring, up-and re-skilling to avoid big rounds of lay-offs in the future.

of companies have a strong vision for the workforce they want to build in three years.

Two-thirds of companies are lacking a future vision of their workforce, which can cause them to lose productivity.

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Learn how you implement a modern candidate selection process, that is: streamlined, experience-driven and backed by data.

steps in strategic workforce planning

5. Don’t hesitate to ask for external advice

Strategic workforce planning is not an easy task and definitely not something to be taken lightly. There are a lot of different factors to take into account if you want to make a solid planning.

Which is why you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for (external) help. Hire a consultant or someone who specializes in strategic workforce planning to support you during (a part of) the process.

They’ll be able to give you useful advice and tips on how to get started and how to keep your planning up to date.

6. Don’t forget your company culture

Yes, the skills you need to achieve your organization’s business goals may change. And yes, technology will play a role in what future skills you will be hiring for.

But you shouldn’t forget about your company culture in your strategic workforce planning.

Just like the people and skills you need, your organizational culture is also constantly evolving. When you are planning, think about how you want to steer this cultural development and what core values you want to preserve over time.

of executives say company culture is one of the top three drivers of company value.

Source: TTEC

Company culture has a big impact on corporate value and you shouldn’t lose sight of it when working on workforce planning.

7. Monitor and adapt

Once you’ve built your strategic workforce strategy and started implementing it, the job isn’t done.

Far from it, in fact.

We’ve said it before, the 21st century business environment is constantly changing; the technology, the workforce, the customers, all these elements are moving.

So, in order to have a responsive workforce, you need to have a workforce planning that is adaptable too. And to find out what needs adapting, you need to monitor your process – which indeed means using analytics. Then you’re able to modify your strategic workforce plan accordingly and always stay on top of the business transformation.

It’s always good to have a plan. Especially if you are a large company hiring for hundreds of roles every year you need to think strategically about how your workforce can achieve the highest productivity at any given moment.

Having a sound workforce plan in place will help you optimize costs, prepare for demographic changes, create a long-term recruitment strategy and, at the end of the day, improve your bottom line.

The 7 tips listed in this article are the first step in the right direction if you want to get started with strategic workforce planning.

The most important one to takeaway is probably number 5: don’t hesitate to ask someone (externally) who’s more experienced to help you on your way towards successful strategic workforce planning.


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Four Main Steps of Strategic Workforce Planning

steps in strategic workforce planning

Is yours a company that engages in strategic workforce planning and as a result, is reaping the benefits of having the right people in the right jobs at the right time? If so, you know the makeup and capabilities of your current workforce. You’ve planned for future scenarios based on company growth. And you constantly review and take proactive steps to align your workforce with the future you foresee.

For companies like yours, it was all going swimmingly until COVID-19 showed up and threw a monkey wrench into the works. Almost overnight, companies had find new ways of doing business. Revenue projections and forecasts for company growth had to be reevaluated. All of a sudden, companies had too many employees who could not work on site and their jobs could not be done remotely. So workforce plans had to go back to the drawing board.

COVID-19 with its accompanying uncertainty is making workforce planning more important than ever. Let’s take a closer look at strategic workforce planning and the advantages it provides.

Strategic Workforce Planning: What it is and What it’s not

At the job level , workforce planning assures that the right talent is in the right job at the right time. At the company level , workforce planning assures that the organization is neither understaffed nor overstaffed. At the strategic level , workforce planning identifies the gaps between the current and future workforce (2-5 years out), and takes steps to assure the desired quantity, quality, cost and agility of personnel are in place as the company advances.

The long-term focus of strategic workforce planning involves the whole company. It should not be confused with short term HR analytics, which is used primarily by HR personnel to analyze and optimize the performance of the current employees. It’s not the same as forecasting the company’s desired growth trajectory; determining the make-up of the workforce that will be needed at different points in the future; and planning the steps that will help the organization recruit, hire, promote, train, and retain the right people in the right jobs at the right time.

To determine the human resources your company needs, you must first know where you want to go.

Step 1: Strategic workforce planning begins with the business and organizational strategy of the company and flows from there.

Is the company growing current product lines? Is it venturing into new markets, products or services? Is it phasing out older products and services? Is it anticipating technology advances or competitors that will disrupt the market? Once the company strategy is clear, workforce planning can commence.

Step 2: Analyze the current workforce in terms of size, quality, cost, agility, performance and future potential.

Once you understand the workforce formation that you already have, you can begin to map out the future skillsets and roles that will be needed. Companies that are diverging and pursuing new business paths often find that mapping current employee skills, potential, and cost to future needs is especially challenging. For example, is it more advantageous to re-skill in-house staff or to recruit contingency and freelance talent from a global talent pool?

Step 3: Envision the future in multiple scenarios and prepare for probable outcomes.

Since the future is never certain, strategic workforce planning creates multiple scenarios of the future and uses tangible examples to plot possible outcomes. This process often highlights weaker or unpleasant indications of change that you might otherwise overlook. Think of this phase as an evaluation of various “if-then” scenarios that help you prepare for continuity, expansion, disruption and even surprise.

Step 4: Determine your future workforce and take the necessary steps to achieve it.

This process necessarily occurs in stages. The important thing is to aim for the right talent in the right place at the right time. For example, a manufacturing product line has a manual operation that is slated for future automation. For the next two years, manual operators will still be needed in some capacity. But after that, full automation is expected to kick in. Strategic workforce planning helps you foresee interim and ultimate formations of the workforce and prepare for them accordingly.

Strategic Workforce Planning is Essential to Successful Businesses

Strategic workforce planning is how successful organizations solve staffing issues both in the short term and the long term, and gain many business advantages, including:

Cost Reduction:  

By analyzing different future scenarios, you’ll know whether it is more cost-efficient to hire local talent and place them on site, or to outsource operations and services to contingent workers and freelancers. You’ll know precisely how many workers you need at any given time and how to plan for turnover. And you can reduce the cost of unexpected attrition through better talent recruitment and management.

Efficient Talent Recruitment and Management:

Once you have a plan, recruitment efforts will be able to target the right skillsets and onboard them at the right time. Training programs can be created to prepare employees for planned technology advances such as automation, or to master new applications and systems that the company is adopting. You can also improve career development opportunities as you plan to re-skill employees in tandem with company advances.

Better Business Agility: 

Considering a number of future scenarios help you build flexibility into workforce planning and avoid surprises. Even though your strategic workforce plan may follow a particular scenario, you will have considered other possibilities and how they would affect your business and your workforce. And if a disruption like COVID-19, comes in out of left field, you will be well practiced in assessing and acting upon the gaps in your current situation and where you want to be.

Strategic Workforce Planning is Worth the Effort

Strategic workforce planning will help you reduce and optimize costs; prepare for market changes and talent pool fluctuations; create an effective recruitment strategy for both short and long term; and ultimately, improve the productivity and viability of your business.

To read more about workforce management and workforce optimization visit our Workforce Optimization (WFO) guide .

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10 Steps for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning

Strategic workforce planning can help sustain organizational growth in challenging times. We've put together 10 steps to help you kick off the process.

PeopleGoal Content Team

by PeopleGoal Content Team

10 Steps for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning

Sustaining organizational growth in challenging times

Business leaders are currently facing some serious challenges in regard to their future talent acquisition and human capital strategy . The unprecedented impact of the pandemic and ensuing recession means that a fundamental rethink of business strategy is needed. The way people work, where they work and who they work for is rapidly changing, and business leaders need to plan ahead in order to maintain growth. Strategic workforce planning could be the answer to sustaining organizational growth in difficult times.

63% of CEOs are concerned about availability of key skills

One of the biggest concerns for leaders at the moment is the shortage of skilled talent and the ageing workforce. CEOs are increasingly worried about finding talent with the right skills. 79% of CEOs perceive retaining existing talent as the top management challenge, while another 67% cited attracting qualified talent as the top concern.

Many leaders are well aware of the exceptional challenges that lie ahead, but many seem less certain about how they are going to tackle them. Read on to find out how to implement an effective workforce planning strategy in 10 steps.

strategic workforce planning CEO quotation

What is strategic workforce planning?

Strategic workforce planning is the systematic identification and analysis of an organization's future talent needs associated with its long-term goals and objectives , establishing a clear strategy that ensures that it will achieve these goals.

Workforce planning aims to align an organization's people strategy with its evolving needs . It is a continual process due to the constantly evolving nature of organizational change.

It is essential that HR leaders develop a strategic workforce plan that will help their organization to meet its strategic goals by identifying critical talent needs, assessing potential talent risks and developing strategies to mitigate those risks.

What is the goal of workforce planning?

The main goal of workforce planning is having the right talent in the right roles at the right time . The organization will never be over or understaffed, and will be ready to react quickly to changes in the business landscape.

Effective strategic planning will shape the future of HR, enabling People teams to demonstrate their capabilities and influence in managing people processes and in driving overall business success.

The 4 key elements of workforce planning

All workforce strategic planning processes should consider the following essential components:

key elements of strategic workforce planning

Common barriers to strategic workforce planning

According to a recent study , only 8% of senior HR leaders believe they are getting a suitable return on investment from strategic workforce planning and talent management. So before you kick off your planning efforts, it is useful to be aware of some of the obstacles that organizations face when they are focusing on workforce planning.

common barriers to strategic workforce planning

Common barriers that organizations face during workforce planning:

Although there are some barriers, being aware of the challenges going forward will help you to implement a roadblock free planning process.

Benefits of strategic workforce planning

Effective strategic workforce planning improves HR’s strategic contribution to the organization by 13% and, in turn, drives talent outcomes and revenue.

Investing time and resources in your workforce planning process will set up your organization for success. If you are still on the fence, the following benefits will convince you that it is worth your time.

key benefits of strategic workforce planning

Benefits of strategic workforce planning:

Where to begin with your workforce planning strategy

There is no set way to implement a strategic workforce plan. Whilst that might seem contradictory given the title of this article, it actually reflects the unique nature and culture of every organization. The important thing is that each plan must be designed with your organization's specific workforce in mind in order to identify gaps and anticipate future needs. Strategic workforce planning is no mean feat, but when executed correctly it will have a positive impact on your businesses bottom-line.

10 steps for effective strategic workforce planning

10 steps for effective strategic workforce planning

1. Keep in mind the organization's long term objectives

Strategic workforce planning is about making sure people within your organization are able to deliver the wider business goals. It would therefore be logical to start with those key business goals. Think about where the company is headed in the short and long term, what does it want to achieve, and what human capital can do to help it achieve it. By aligning talent management strategy with the organization's business strategy, you will start to see real benefits to the organization as a whole.

2. Engage key stakeholders from the outset

It is really important to get leadership and key stakeholders on board before you begin with strategic workforce planning if you want to see real results. You will need to buy-in not only from the HR department, but also from finance, operations and the C-suite.

3. Create a dedicated team

High-performing organizations might already have a dedicated workforce planning team in place, but if your business cannot accommodate this there are ways around it. Establish a project team, where members are able to continue in their normal role and can also join the new workforce planning team. Build your team wisely, with input from senior leadership, finance and HR stakeholders. Establish clear communication channels and segment specific roles within the team.

4. Analyze the current workforce

In this stage of workforce planning, your organization needs to evaluate its gaps and work out what actions it can take to close them. It is essential to carry out some analysis of the current state of the workforce.

What does your workforce look like at the moment? What skills shortage is already apparent? What could be improved on to increase efficiency and enhance employee employee experience?

Reviewing your current talent situation and recognizing the gaps is the first step to better understanding the changes that need to be made to drive improvement. Once the gaps have been identified, create appropriate action plans.

5. Use people analytics

People analytics are a very useful way to get insights about the workforce. What are the current capabilities, skills and size? Collect data on workforce demographics and leverage this information to make smarter , data-driven decisions regarding your workforce.

6. Collaborate

One of the biggest barriers that organizations face during workforce planning is the failure to communicate across the company and gather internal feedback before decision making. It is essential to collaborate with department leaders and managers, as they work closely with employees and will therefore have a better understanding of areas that need improvement.

7. Use innovative technology

An effective planning process requires continual interaction, something that can be improved by using a strategic workforce planning tool. Cloud-based, data driven workforce planning tools encourage collaboration and flexibility, and turn planning into a more agile, collaborative and data-driven process. Using planning technology will allow you to free up budget, model different scenarios, create better alignment between finance and HR and better track workforce plans.

8. Outsource an expert

The complexity of creating an effective workforce planning strategy must not be understated. Don't be afraid to seek external help. Experts are able to provide your organization with invaluable help and support to make the process more effective. Bringing in some external help will save your organization both time and resources, and will represent a significant return on investment.

9. Anticipate the future

To be ready for the future, you need to have some idea of what is on the horizon. Whilst no one can predict the future, what you can do is create potential future scenarios and plan accordingly. These can be used to create action plans in advance. Then when something unexpected happens, there will already be some contingency measures in place.

10. Evaluate, revise and modify

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, workforce planning needs to be adapted in line with the evolving needs of an organization. It is important to continuously track the progress of your workforce planning strategy in order to identify its strengths and weaknesses, and modify it accordingly. The process needs to incorporate a regular review process in order to gather feedback needed to evaluate the process. The current business environment is constantly changing and evolving, and your workforce planning should too.

Whilst there is no one size fits all solution for today's talent management issues, strategic workforce planning is an excellent place to start. If your organization hires hundreds of roles a year, it is particularly important to think strategically about how your future workforce can achieve maximum productivity at any given moment.

A clear plan will help to reduce employee turnover, prepare for demographic change and create a long-term talent management strategy that will undoubtably improve your bottom-line.

Check out our top tips for effective workforce planning here .

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10 Steps for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning

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A Guide to Strategic Workforce Planning

Posted by Erik van Vulpen

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An Example of Workforce Planning

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The Steps in Workforce Planning – A do-it-yourself Template

1. analysis of the current formation of the workforce, 1.1 quality of the workforce.

9 box grid as a tool for workforce planning

1.2 Quantity of the workforce

Workforce planning model that shows changes in the workforce

2. Anticipate the future: Leverage scenario analysis to plot potential futures

3. Analysis of the future formation of the workforce

3.1 future expected formation, 3.2 future desired formation, weekly update.

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Erik van Vulpen

Erik van Vulpen is the founder and Dean of AIHR. He is an expert in shaping modern HR practices by bringing technological innovations into the HR context. He receives global recognition as an HR thought leader and regularly speaks on topics like People Analytics, Digital HR, and the Future of Work.

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steps in strategic workforce planning

Strategic Workforce Planning: Steps and Process

steps in strategic workforce planning

To maintain a successful business, it is essential to have a strategic workforce plan in place. This plan will help ensure that you have the right employees in the correct positions. It is the tactical procedure of aligning an organisation’s workforce with its business goals. The workforce planning process encompasses forecasting future workforce needs and ensuring that the right people are assigned to the ideal job profile to bring results.

A key component of workforce planning is succession planning, which ensures a pipeline of talent ready to step into leadership roles as needed. It also includes workforce development activities time. Many steps are involved in it, which can be complex. This blog post will outline the steps and processes involved in strategic workforce planning, such as training and coaching that aim to improve employees’ skills and help them reach their full potential.

An effective workforce plan takes into account both the current and future workforce needs of an organisation. To develop a workforce plan, organisations first need to conduct a workforce assessment to identify gaps between their workforce and the workforce they will need in the future. Once gaps have been identified, organisations can develop strategies to address them.

There are many different approaches to workforce planning, but all effective plans share some common steps:

Organisations should review and update their workforce plans regularly to ensure that they continue to meet the ever-changing needs of the business.

What is Strategic Workforce Planning? What’s The Difference?

Strategic workforce planning is a comprehensive process that companies use to identify their workforce needs and align their workforce plans with their business goals. It aims to ensure that an organisation has the best people doing the right things.

The difference between workforce planning and strategic workforce planning is that workforce planning focuses on the present and near-term future, while strategic workforce planning takes a longer-term view. Workforce planning looks at an organisation’s current workforce and projects what will be needed to meet future demand. On the other hand, strategic workforce planning starts with an assessment of the company’s long-term goals and identifies the workforce needed to achieve those goals.

What Are The Goals of Strategic Workforce Planning?

The major goal of workforce planning is to ensure that an organisation has the right number and mix of people, with the right skills and knowledge, doing tasks suited and which will best enable the organisation to meet its business objectives .

To achieve this goal, it must address both the “supply” and the “demand” sides of workforce requirements. The supply side looks at the workforce currently available to the organisation, both internally and externally. The demand side looks at the workforce required to meet the organisation’s business objectives.

The purpose of it is to check the workforce on the supply side is matched as closely as possible to the workforce on the demand side. This match is not always possible, but it is the goal that workforce planners strive to achieve.

In a nutshell, the goals of strategic workforce planning:

Also Read : Evolution Of Human Resource Management: Past and Future

How Does Workforce Planning Influences HR Processes?

Workforce planning is a systematic process used by organisations to align their workforce with their strategic goals. The workforce planning process involves identifying workforce requirements, analysing workforce data, and developing plans to address gaps.

The workforce planning process can influence HR processes in several ways. For example, it can help identify workforce needs and trends, which can then inform HR strategy . It can also help to identify skills shortages and gaps in the workforce, which can be addressed through training and development initiatives.

It makes sure the organisation has the right mix of skills and competencies to meet its strategic goals. By aligning workforce plans with organisational strategy, organisations can ensure that their workforce can support and drive business success.

Benefits of Workforce Planning

There are many benefits to workforce planning. By planning for your workforce needs, you can avoid the costly mistakes that can come from hiring too many or too few employees.

Identifying Opportunities For Growth

One of the benefits of workforce planning is that it can help you identify opportunities for growth within your company. By closely examining the workforce, you can determine where you may need to add employees to keep up with demand.

Improving Employee Retention

Another benefit of workforce planning is that it can help improve employee retention. By understanding the workforce’s needs, you can create a work environment that will likely keep your employees happy and engaged. Reducing the turnover can save your company money in the long run.

Find Gaps in the Workforce

Workforce planning can also help you find gaps in your workforce. By looking at your workforce, you can identify areas where you may lack the skills or experience needed to meet your business goals. This information is ideal for making decisions about training or hiring new employees.

Efficient Planning For Future

Workforce planning can also help you plan more efficiently for the future. You can make better decisions about where to allocate your resources and how to grow your business. It will help save time and money in the long run.

Improved Flexibility

By understanding your workforce needs, you can make better decisions on the right way to utilise your resources. It can easily improve your workforce’s flexibility. For example, you can avoid overstaffing in slow periods and can quickly ramp up production when demand is high.

Also Read : Role Of Human Resource Management in an Organization

Steps of Workforce Planning: Explained In Detail

It is a systematic process for identifying the workforce requirements of an organisation in alignment with its business goals. The workforce planning process typically consists of four steps:

Setting Strategic Goals And Direction

Developing an Action Plan

Let’s discuss the steps in detail.

The first step of workforce planning is to develop a clear understanding of the organisation’s strategic goals and objectives. This will guide the workforce planning process and ensure that the workforce plan is aligned with the organisation’s overall business strategy.

It is the most crucial step that ensures workforce planning is successful. The organisation’s strategic goals will serve as a guide for it and help to ensure that the workforce plan is aligned with the organisation’s overall business strategy.

These decisions will impact the workforce planning process and the types of workforce requirements that need to be addressed. You must ask these questions before setting the strategic goals and direction:

Analysing The Existing Workforce

The second step of workforce planning is to analyse the existing workforce. This will provide insights into workforce trends and issues such as skills shortages. It will also help to identify any potential risks to the business if there are not enough skilled people in the workforce.

Workforce analytics can be used to identify trends and issues in the workforce. This step will involve looking at data such as employee turnover rates, absenteeism, and workforce demographics. It will help in making decisions about workforce planning.

There are some strategies used to analyse the current workforce:

Internal Supply

This is a workforce analysis that looks at the skills and experience of the current workforce. It can help to identify any training or development needs. With this information, it will make sure the supply of the right talents.

Workforce Analytics

Workforce analytics can help with workforce planning by providing insights into the workforce. With workforce analytics, data is gathered about the workforce. This data can be used to identify workforce trends and issues.

Demand Planning

It helps in determining the future workforce needs of an organisation. It is done by looking at the demand for products or services and then forecasting the workforce requirements.

Gap Analysis

A gap analysis helps in identifying any workforce shortages. It is done by comparing the current workforce to the future workforce’s needs. Analysing the existing workforce will provide insights into any workforce trends and issues.

It is time to formulate an action plan that will take things forward. This will involve creating goals and objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). After setting the SMART goals, you must create a plan of action to achieve them.

This will involve looking at your current workforce and determining what changes need to be made to meet your goals. This could include hiring new employees, training existing employees, or restructuring your workforce.

For example, let’s say one of your goals is to increase productivity by 15% within the following year. To achieve this, you may need to hire additional staff, provide training on new software or processes, or change how work is currently being done.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when developing your workforce objectives and action plan:

With a well-thought-out workforce objective and action plan in place, you will be on your way to achieving your workforce goals.

Implementing The Plan

Once the workforce plan is complete, it’s time to implement it. This will require buy-in and support from senior leadership and buy-in and engagement from employees. Here are a few tips for successfully implementing your workforce plan:

Monitoring and Evaluating Results

The workforce planning process should be monitored and evaluated regularly to ensure that it achieves its desired results. Track the progress of workforce initiatives against specific metrics. It identifies areas where the workforce planning process needs to be improved.

Another way to monitor and evaluate the workforce planning process is to review the workforce plan itself periodically. Monitoring and assessing the workforce planning process is essential to ensure that it is effective and achieves its desired results. 

By tracking progress against specific metrics and periodically reviewing the workforce plan, it is possible to identify areas where the workforce planning process can be improved. This can help ensure that the workforce is effectively managed and organisational goals are achieved.

Analyse Workforce Discrepancies

There are many benefits to conducting a workforce analysis, but one of the most important is that it can help you identify areas where your workforce is not meeting your needs. This information can change your recruiting, training, and development programs to align your workforce with your business goals.

Another benefit of conducting a workforce analysis is that it can help you identify potential skills shortages within your organisation. By understanding where these shortages exist, you can take steps to address them before they become a problem. It may involve developing training programs to ensure that your employees have the skills they need to be successful in their roles or working with external organisations to source new talent.

Ultimately, conducting a workforce analysis is integral to any organisation’s efforts to build a strong and effective workforce. By taking the time to understand where your workforce stands today and where you want it to be in the future, you can develop strategies to close any gaps and ensure that your business possesses the talent it needs to succeed.

Planning For The Future 

When it comes to workforce planning, one of the biggest benefits is the ability to plan for the future. By considering current staff levels, skillsets, and workloads, you can start to map out what your organisation will need in terms of staffing in the future. It allows you to make proactive decisions about hiring and training rather than waiting until a vacancy arises.

Workforce planning also gives you better understanding of your current staff and their potential. By assessing skills gaps and succession planning needs, you can identify areas where you may need to invest in additional training or development. This information can then create targeted development plans for individual employees.

Workforce planning aims to ensure that your organisation has the right mix of staff with the right skillsets at the right time. By taking a proactive approach to planning, you can avoid many of the pitfalls that can come with reactive decision-making.

Enhance Recruitment Process

Workforce planning is a process that can help organisations to enhance their recruitment process as a benefit. By looking at the data and trends related to their workforce, employers can more accurately identify the skills and experience needed to meet their business goals. This information can then be used to target their recruitment efforts towards those individuals who are most likely to be ideal for the organisation.

As any HR or recruiting professional knows, one of the key challenges in finding great candidates is understanding what skills and experience are required for the role. Workforce planning can provide valuable insights into this area, allowing employers to focus their recruitment efforts on those most likely to be successful in the role. In addition, by understanding the organisation’s future needs, employers can plan ahead for upcoming vacancies and ensure that they have a pipeline of qualified candidates ready to fill those roles.

In summary, workforce planning can help organizations improve their recruitment process by providing them with better data and insights into their needed skills and experience. By using this information, employers can target their recruiting efforts more effectively and ensure that they have a pool of qualified candidates ready to fill future vacancies.

Align HR Processes

Human resources processes can be aligned with workforce planning to create organisational efficiencies and benefits. Workforce planning helps to identify the optimal mix of employees needed to achieve business goals, and HR processes can be used to attract, hire, and retain those employees. By aligning HR processes with workforce planning, organisations can ensure that they have the right employees in place to achieve their goals.

Organisations that align their HR processes with workforce planning are able to:

Save time and money: By knowing exactly what type of employee is needed for each role, organizations can avoid spending time and money on recruiting and training employees who are not a good fit.

Improve retention: When employees are hired into roles that match their skills and interests, they are more likely to remain with the organisation longer. This reduces turnover costs and helps the organisation keep its best talent.

Increase engagement: Employees engaged in their work are more productive and contribute more to the organisation. Aligning HR processes with workforce planning can help employees be placed in roles where they will be engaged and motivated.

Find Talent Gaps

As your business grows, it’s essential to regularly assess your workforce to identify talent gaps. It will help you ascertain if you need to invest in training for your existing employees or hire new talent.

Workforce planning is a process that can help you identify these gaps and plan for the future of your workforce. It involves analyzing your current workforce, identifying skills gaps, and forecasting future needs. This process can help you ensure that you have the ideal mix of skills and experience on your team to meet your business goals.

Now is the time to begin if you don’t have a formal workforce planning process. Taking a proactive approach to workforce planning can avoid having too few or too many employees with the wrong skills for the job.

Implement Retention Strategy

As the workforce planning process unfolds, it will be essential to implementing a retention strategy as one of the benefits. This is especially true if your company is downsizing or otherwise reducing staff. Having a solid plan in place for keeping your best employees can help limit the damage of these reductions.

There are several ways to approach employee retention. Some companies opt for financial incentives, such as bonuses or raises. Others focus on non-monetary perks, like flexible schedules or telecommuting options. Still, others create a unique blend of both financial and non-financial incentives. The key is to look for what works best for your company and your employees.

Once you have a retention strategy in place, it is important to monitor it constantly and make adjustments as needed. The needs of your employees can change over time, so it is important to be flexible in your approach. Being proactive about employee retention can help ensure that your company remains staffed with the best talent available.

Improve KPIs

As businesses strive to improve their performance and compete in today’s global marketplace, they increasingly turn to workforce planning to achieve these objectives. When done correctly, workforce planning can help organisations optimise their human capital, improving key performance indicators (KPIs).

Organisations that adopt a comprehensive workforce planning strategy often see improvements in several areas, including:

Improved financial performance: One of the most important benefits of workforce planning is its impact on an organisation’s bottom line. Organisations can increase revenue and decrease costs by aligning the workforce with business goals.

Improved employee engagement and retention: A well-designed workforce plan considers employees’ needs and strives to match them with roles that fit their skill sets and career aspirations. This can lead to increased engagement and motivation, which in turn can result in reduced turnover.

Increased customer satisfaction: Customers benefit from improved service and satisfaction levels when employees are engaged and performing at their best. This can result in increased repeat business and higher profits for the company.

The Bottom Line

A strategic workforce helps organisations align their workforce with their business goals. By considering factors like current and future workforce needs, workforce availability, and workforce skills and experience, organisations can develop a plan to ensure they have the right people in place to achieve their business goals.

While workforce planning can be complex, it doesn’t have to be. By following a few simple steps and involving the right people in the process, organisations can develop a workforce plan that will help them achieve their business goals.

Taking a post-graduate course in HR management will give you a superior edge in your career. We have formulated Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management which is ideal for learning the ins and outs of HR management. 

More Information: 

Key Objectives of Human Resource Management

What is Strategic Human Resource Management? Definition and Examples

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steps in strategic workforce planning

Published on

6 steps to skill-based strategic workforce planning

Klara Freitag

Klara Freitag

Skills & Content Lead

Reading time:

HR & L&D managers participate in a strategic workforce planning session.

Strategic workforce planning (SWP) is a process of analyzing an organization's current workforce and predicting future workforce needs. The goal of SWP is to ensure that an organization has the right number and type of employees with the right skills in the right place at the right time to meet its business goals. The strategic workforce planning process generally includes the following steps:

In this blog, we will examine each of these steps and propose a better, skill-based approach to strategic workforce planning. Additionally, we will show an example as an illustration. 

steps in strategic workforce planning

Advantages of skill-based strategic workforce planning

Traditional workforce planning is based on job profiles. In contrast, we recommend using skills as the basis for forecasting and planning your workforce. There are three advantages to this:

1. Strategic direction: what do we want to achieve?

The first step is alignment with your company's goals. What are they? Are transformation processes being initiated, and how will they be implemented? What are the specific business goals that require new skills or that build on existing skills? At this point, it can be helpful to look at skills market data in your industry, from companies with a similar focus, or skills data from your own company.

We’ll look at this example in all 6 steps. 

ACME Corporation wants to move to strong automation of processes at executive level. To kick off the transformation process and drive greater process automation, HR is tasked with building expertise on "Robotic Process Automation" (RPA) across the entire business unit. HR identifies all competencies and underlying skills using market data, competitor and internal data to get a comprehensive overview of the skills needed.

2. Needs analysis: which skills are needed?

The second step is a concrete needs analysis of the required roles and underlying skills. What specific skills are needed for the transformation process? Skills are a decisive advantage here compared to a needs analysis based on job roles, because role descriptions and competencies change quickly. They are also not specific enough to identify skills gaps and derive recommendations for action. To achieve this, use a skill taxonomy to define concrete target skill profiles. These allow more flexibility than rigid job roles and can also be completely tailored to your needs. 

Back to our example:

ACME Corporation's HR department converts the skills identified in step 1 into a skills taxonomy and uses it to construct concrete skills profiles for the transformation process. This is carried out in collaboration with experts from the specialist area and management level stakeholders to ensure that all requirements are covered. 

3. Workforce Analysis: what skills are already available?

Before bringing in new talent, it can be worthwhile to first look within your existing workforce to identify the  already available. Examining the status quo gives you a snapshot of your current situation and creates a data source on which to base future decisions. The first step is to determine where the company has skills gaps that need to be filled. Based on the skills profile, the workforce can be analyzed and mapped accordingly. It is important that the skill profiles are up to date and can adapt to external developments. The existing skills can be determined, for example, via skill assessments or by self-assessment. 

ACME Corporation makes the defined RPA target skill profile available to all employees in the specialist area, e.g. via a Learning Experience Platform (LXP). A self-assessment is then used to measure the knowledge level of each individual. This self-assessment can be validated or ranked by supervisors, if necessary. The result is an overview of the current level of RPA-relevant skills in the business unit. 

4. Gap Analysis: what skills are missing?

In the next step, the existing skills and their distribution are measured against the target skill profile. This comparison makes it possible to see exactly which skills are present, and to what degree and also highlights those which are absent. It also calculates the "distance" of individual staff members (or cohorts) from the target profile. This comparison of the current skills complement and the target position informs your future decision-making in workforce planning. 

In the example: 

The company already has experts who fulfill a large part of the target profile for RPA. What they’re missing is comprehensive knowledge of the fundamentals and practical experience in automation, which will enable communication with the experts and will drive the transformation.  

5. Solution implementation: How can skill gaps be closed?

We know the skill profile, who fulfills it, and exactly what is lacking. The next step is to solve the skills gap, by defining the concrete measures you will take. There are several ways to approach this: for example, the required skills can be brought into the company through upskilling or reskilling, outsourcing or internal mobility. Skills serve as a common language linking the various initiatives. Depending on the use case,you could set up a skill-based internal project platform or make personalized learning recommendations.

Back to our example: 

The human resources department at ACME Corporation has decided to build the required skills by upskilling existing employees in their company. They have purchased and compiled learning content on the basics of automation and assigned the corresponding skills in an LXP. Each target profile and the previous assessment informs the way that learners are assigned content. Artificial intelligence (AI) within the learning platform also ensures that the learning content is automatically adapted to the learners' prior knowledge and that employees only receive the learning content that will push them further. This saves time, increases learning readiness, and maximizes results.

6. Measuring progress: How can we measure learning progress?

Did the learning content produce the desired results? Was it used at all? How was the user experience with the learning content? Setting the right key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you to find answers to these and other questions. These are the KPIs our example organization used:

Goal-based KPI

KPI: % of processes automated

Behaviour-based KPIs  

Input-based KPIs

Output-based KPIs

Skill-based strategic workforce planning as a challenge & an opportunity

Skill-based strategic workforce planning makes it possible not only to place certain skills in a team, but also to develop them over the long term so that they remain and continue to develop. Through a strategic step-by-step approach, the method facilitates long-term results. By intelligently measuring successes, the process feeds itself with new input and can continue flexibly. Supported by AI and other technologies, learning new skills can not only advance the company, but also create a sense of achievement for employees and experts. This is not just about expertise, but about a culture of skills development and personal achievements. Lifelong learning becomes embedded within your company and a recognizable benefit.

Do you need advice on your workforce planning strategy? 

Schedule a call with one of our Skill Architects and get a free consultation on the health of your strategy, processes and learning ecosystem. 

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steps in strategic workforce planning

Taking the time to plan and make decisions as part of a broader strategy improves every aspect of your business, including your workforce. Despite the size or type of company, workforce planning is a valuable HR process that ensures you have the staff to execute your business strategy.

Learn what workforce planning is, how it helps with goals and produces positive outcomes, the benefits it can offer, five key steps in workforce planning, and what it looks like in practice.

What is workforce planning?

Primary workforce planning criteria, the goal of workforce planning, how workforce planning affects hr processes, the benefits of workforce planning, the five core workforce planning steps.

Workforce planning is the process of analyzing existing employees and planning for future staffing requirements through talent gap assessment, developing employee management procedures, and setting recruitment strategies.

With effective workforce planning, your business is always staffed with the necessary talent, knowledge, and experience to produce positive business results.

Workforce planning requires developing an appropriate and cost-effective strategy for retaining, recruiting, and training your workforce while also continually assessing employee performance.

A survey by the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) shows 89% of 236 organizations integrated workforce planning into their business operations.

The plan for your workforce, what it will look like moving forward, and how to strategize for specific goals are unique to your business and depend on many factors. Typical components that affect workforce planning include:

Strategic workforce planning

Strategic workforce planning is a proactive approach to managing staffing needs and aligns HR processes to business-wide goals. It guides future employee plans and decisions, ensuring they adhere to the company’s long-term vision.

Strategic workforce planning tends to take place at the senior leadership level and focuses on big picture goals such as:

Operational workforce planning

In contrast to strategic workforce planning, operational workforce planning focuses on the business’s immediate priorities. For example, which staff level can efficiently meet the current deadlines and objectives?

Criteria to consider when planning for your company’s future workforce include:

The primary goal of workforce planning is to create a strategy for your staffing needs that ensures you can meet strategic objectives both now and in the future.

To achieve this goal, workforce planning requires an in-depth understanding of your existing workforce, employee skills, experience, load capability, and potential talent gaps.

Through performance tracking and employee assessment, you can take a birds-eye view of your entire workforce and create actionable plans for the future.

Workforce planning allows companies to understand and design their workforce effectively and efficiently with long-term objectives in mind. It prevents problems from developing and allows management to spot issues early, creating plans to remedy them. Examples could include:

Recruitment and employee development

Workforce planning provides the game plan for your company’s recruitment and employee development .

With a clear understanding of your existing workforce and your future goals, you can profile the skills, experience, and knowledge required to meet your needs and develop hiring and training processes to match.

Companies are constantly competing for the same high-end talent. With appropriate workforce planning in place, you can better identify future top employees for your business and develop talent acquisition strategies to attract them to your company.

Plus, workforce planning analysis can help companies formulate proper training and employee development to fill talent gaps while also finding individuals capable of excelling with the correct professional development in place.

This leads us to succession planning and ensuring you maintain successful leadership across your company.

By recognizing the leadership positions currently open or soon to be available, companies can begin assessing existing employees for promotion or targeting outside hires with the right mix of skill and experience.

Workforce planning together with succession planning creates a smooth transition for the critical roles in your company so you can provide an uninterrupted, seamless service or product for your customers.

Performance management

A significant outcome of workforce planning is managing the performance of your employees to increase productivity and efficiency.

With workforce planning, you can understand and develop strategies that get the most out of your employees to increase output and get a higher return on investment from your staffing expenditure.

1. Preparing for the future

With workforce planning, you have a roadmap for your staffing requirements to prepare for the future.

This could mean increasing the number of employees to match growth forecasts or pivoting to a different business model and finding the staff you need to accomplish this.

2. Discovering workforce gaps

Understanding the gaps of your current workforce informs your future personnel strategy in terms of recruitment, redeployment, and training.

3. Effective succession planning

By identifying and developing employees with the potential for future leadership roles, you can effectively plan for staff leaving with minimal disruption.

Succession planning can also have a positive effect on employee engagement. Surveys show that:

4. Improved Retention strategies

Effective workforce planning gives you a clear understanding of employee skills and where they can be the most successful in the business.

So rather than terminating employees, you can retain valuable staff through well-planned redeployment.

5. Flexibility

A clear workforce plan with recruitment and training structures in place can make your business more agile, with the ability to efficiently anticipate and react to change.

You can reduce your overall staffing costs by developing plans to:

Labor costs can account for up 70% of total business costs. Workforce planning allows you to map talent to value and ensure you are getting the best results for the costs.

Successfully implementing new workforce planning strategies is an extensive procedure. However, businesses can break down workforce planning into five core steps to simplify the process.

1. Deciding strategic direction and goals

Workforce planning is a top-down process requiring clear organizational direction and defined strategic goals to inform and guide future decisions.

These are vital questions to ask yourself before analyzing your workforce and implementing new employee management strategies.

It is also important to remember that every process in your business affects another. Therefore, your workforce planning must be an organization-wide endeavor and include effective communication between HR and other departments.

Your new workforce plan must be produced with a collaborative approach that generates a consensus amongst all invested parties. Without organizational buy-in and a rationale for new strategies, you cannot reap the benefits of workforce planning.

Consider this step setting the “soft” workforce planning framework that will define the overall strategy to assess future information rather than the plan’s specific details.

2. Analyze existing workforce

The next step is to properly assess your existing workforce.

Common strategies used in this step include:

These strategies help to answer the following questions:

What you have now is the starting point for future workforce plans. You can begin developing workforce planning strategies when you know what you have (step 2) and where you want to be (step 1).

A common pitfall of workforce planning is ensuring it is based on high-quality information from within the organization and external sources. Workforce planning defined by inaccurate forecasts and undeliverable future goals cannot be successful.

3. Develop your plan

This is where companies must take their overall goal, input the assessment of their existing workforce and produce a concrete plan for the future.

Businesses must plan their workforce to reflect the value and revenue it produces. A simple example of workforce planning in action could be:

A company is manufacturing two models of cars. Model A is the business’ flagship car, selling the most and bringing in the most revenue. However, model B is showing significant growth, and the income from model A is beginning to stagnate.

The car company can produce a simple revenue table based on 2021 figures and 2022’s forecasts.

The revenue per employee for model A is $250,000, and the revenue per employee for model B is $300,000.

Based on growth forecasts, you can estimate that staff working on model B will need to increase by 57 to match increased demand. This process assumes the forecasts are accurate and there are no sudden changes in sales or production. At the same time, model A will likely begin to have a surplus of staff in 2021 and need a reduction of 8 employees.

With workforce planning structures in place, you can develop plans to retrain and redeploy staff from Model A to Model B during 2021. This kind of planning minimizes disruption and reduces employee turnover.

Of course, this is just a plan based on forecasts and does not mean you should immediately move eight employees from model A to model B and hire 49 more. Instead, the business should put redeployment, hiring, and training plans in place to execute when key revenue indicators are met and take a gradual approach that matches the shift in focus of their business.

4. Implement workforce planning

Successfully implementing workforce planning requires:

While the future HR plans for managing your workforce are specific to your business, they will involve some or all of the following:

With many new processes to implement, workforce planning does not transform your company overnight. Instead, it is a gradual endeavor that optimizes each procedure for the given circumstances to get your business closer to your long-term goals.

5. Monitor results

It is crucial to remember workforce planning is an iterative process whereby progress is monitored and measured against specific milestones and long-term goals.

Post-implementation, your workforce planning processes may need adjusting due to unexpected factors within your business or to meet new realities of your industry.

L&D Strategy Framework

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The 5-step strategic workforce planning framework.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Drew Fortin

What is strategic workforce planning.

Strategic Workforce Planning is essentially aligning your human capital needs with those dictated by your business plan and strategy. A well thought out workforce plan will answer questions like:

For well-established HR departments and larger organizations, workforce planning can be a catch-all term that covers everything HR-related from annual reviews and merit increase to employee demographics. It can get incredibly daunting depending on the size of your business, the size of your workforce, and where you conduct business (regionally, globally, etc.).

“Workforce planning has topped the wishlist of HR executives for years, but it has consistently been one of the most difficult programs to launch within HR. “– Peter Louch of Vemo

Manager engages in strategic workforce planning activity

Other resources that might interest you:

It’s this over-generalization of sorts that I feel is really where business leaders and HR professionals get sideways and lose sight of the true benefit of strategic workforce planning. The sole purpose of strategic workforce planning is to ensure your workforce is aligned with your business objectives . Change is a constant in most businesses these days. Even the smallest changes will equate to a legitimate change in course over time. Business leaders must realize the true connection these changes have to their workforce.

Being a serial over-simplifier, I think whether or not you have a solid workforce plan can be determined by answering yes or no to one question…

Is the workforce properly structured and composed of the right people to allow us to accomplish our short-term and long term goals?

True strategic workforce planning is the conduit between your business plan and your results.

What are the goals of a strategic workforce planning framework

Here at The Predictive Index ® , we’ve developed a framework called Require, Hire, Inspire. It’s built on the concept that every good business leader has a plan . That plan may call for growth, expansion, M&A, new product development, deeper market penetration, etc., and is developed to achieve some result(s)—double our size, acquire a competitor, develop a new product line, or be the market leader. And, we usually associate a timeline (usually in years) to help stay focused and ensure the best ROI possible.

When you think about it, workforce planning is incredibly important to the execution of your plan. That is to say, people are standing between your plan and your big, hairy, audacious goals! How aggressive and time-constrained your goal is will likely change the way you structure your organization and who you choose to fill a certain position.


The business plan is essentially your guiding light. The people who make up your workforce will help you get there, and your results allow you to determine how best to stay on track and re-calibrate if necessary.

A five-step framework for strategic workforce planning

Regardless of how well-established your business is, every good leader has a business plan. The best plans are in an easily digestible format and usually fit a 3-5 year window. Every good business leader knows a plan is never complete, so it will undergo many iterations and optimizations within its lifespan to remain on course. Inc.com has a nice blog post on writing a good business plan .

2) Require.

Let your business plan dictate the requirements of positions and people that will help you achieve your plan. Literally map each position to your plan and outline the necessary skills, experience, and behaviors that someone, or an entire team, will need to succeed in a given role. Do not think about people already in these positions. Think strategically about the positions and what they will accomplish.

Create job descriptions that outline needed skills, experience, and behaviors, and create job ads that speak to ideal candidates. It’s important that you keep these job descriptions separate from the job ad. Your application and interview process should be well structured, too. Some businesses leverage talent assessment software to improve their chances of predicting on-the-job performance. Remember, personality and drives are just as important as skills and experience.

4) Inspire.

In order for your plan to come to fruition, you need people you can rely on. They should feel ownership, purpose, and pride in what they do and a true understanding of how their role impacts the overall vision outlined by your business plan. Their managers should be equipped with tools and training to allow them to lead their teams better. Employees should be aware of how best to communicate and influence their colleagues, and your workplace culture should foster collaboration, teamwork, and unity toward your business objectives.

5) Results.

Choose the key performance metrics that will help you determine if you are on track and measure them monthly. Although showing all metrics to your employees may not be possible, make sure you have some metrics that you can show your employees that will help them see the progress and health of the organization in relation to your plan. It’s also import to make sure you include some metrics that give a sense of how well the business is doing from a culture standpoint as well. For instance, at PI we have a “Place For Passionate Rockstars” metric on our investor reports that is literally a “yes” or “no” field, but it keeps us asking the honest question about how well we are doing in that area.

Re-evaluate each step every month or so and you will realize that items will need to change, projects reprioritized, etc., for you to stay on track.

The Predictive Index makes Strategic Workforce Planning more attainable for any business anywhere. The Require, Hire, Inspire framework is a foundational element to the PI Professional Series™ management workshops designed to allow businesses to tap the true power of their people through self-awareness, better hiring, better management, and team dynamics.

Is your workforce prepared to execute your business strategy?

Create a strategic workforce plan that increases your chances of achieving your goals..

steps in strategic workforce planning

Drew is PI's Chief Growth Officer.

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6 stages of strategic workforce planning

steps in strategic workforce planning

The need to identify the skills of tomorrow and the management of uncertainty are key issues for human resource departments, and it is here that strategic workforce planning (also known as “strategic management of human capital,” but we prefer not to call our people “capital”) comes most strongly into play. 

Strategic workforce planning (SWP) allows you to anticipate, plan and ensure that the right people are in the right place at the right time. It’s a major asset in leveraging HR for solving your company's strategic challenges. 

In this guide, we will go into detail to give you ways to apply SWP to your structure. We'll cover:

What is strategic workforce planning?

Let’s start with a concrete definition of SWP: “Having the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time, in order to meet the strategic objectives of the organization.”

The approach itself is based on four criteria:

The size criterion concerns the number of job offers: too many offers and the whole company is slowed down. In contrast, offering few offers comes down to understaffing. The objective is to have (1) little friction, (2) no vacancies and (3) no overstaffing.

Form means knowledge of the skills required to meet current and future needs. This criterion takes into account key skills and r eplacement management .

Achieving the “right cost” requires understanding the balance of employee costs. To achieve this, there are two factors: cost efficiency and reasonable cost .

Agility is demonstrated by a workforce that is flexible and knows how to adapt to changing market needs.

The golden rules to be followed:

To make a SWP strategy effective and sustainable, there must be a balance between all these factors.

Why is strategic workforce planning important?

Strategic workforce planning aims to address future issues related to employee management and is becoming increasingly crucial for several reasons:

How is strategic workforce planning different than… ?

Job and Skills Management and Forecasting (GPEC)

In France, Jobs and Skills Management and Forecasting (GPEC) provides a diagnosis of the jobs and skills present within the company. Subsequently, HR measures are taken to support their development. Jobs and Skills Management and Forecasting works with your employees on a daily basis. Strategic Workforce Planning, on the other hand, is not connected to the individual development of employees and the purpose of SWP is to establish a strategy of long-term anticipation.

People Analytics

The people analytics approach is based on data mining to support talent management. The purpose is to continually analyze the relationships between what motivates employees and the company’s results. In contrast , SWP takes a longer term vision and specifically targets strategic requirements. People Analytics is therefore a tool on which HR can rely to implement SWP. 

Although People Analytics and Jobs and Skills Management and Forecasting should not be confused with Strategic Workforce Planning, they are complementary practices to support HR needs.

6 stages of a successful SWP approach

Last year, Neelie Verlinden, Content Creator and Co-Founder of the AIHR Digital platform, shared an action plan to effectively steer SWP.

Here is our version:

1. Consider your company’s strategic objectives

Taking into account the alignment of the company’s objectives with the project is the first key factor for success. In this way you can clearly demonstrate the relevance of your approach, involve all stakeholders from the beginning and avoid obstacles in future steps.

Ask yourself:

– What does my organization want to do?

– What are my company’s short-, medium- and long-term objectives?

– What skills do I need to achieve these goals?

2. Analyze your current workforce

The need for SWP comes directly from your employees. You must have an updated overview of all the skills in motion in the company. To succeed in this stage, skills mapping, People Analytics and Jobs and Skills Management and Forecasting are valuable tools to draw on. For example, you can build on your employees’ demographic data, their level of seniority and their ambitions to further your plan.

There are two ways to consider the analysis of your workforce, in terms of quality and quantity.

– What is the current diagnosis of my workforce in terms of quality?

– What skills are already present in the company?

– Who are the most high performing employees in the company?

– What is their potential?

3. Identify the future need for skills

Now that you have a clear vision of skills mapping for your employees and their needs, you can start to think about the next step: identifying the skills you will need in the future.

– What skills are missing in my company today?

– What skills should be provided in the medium and long term?

4. Create multiple scenarios

Identifying skill needs in line with business objectives does not guarantee that everything will go well. You cannot predict the future and it is for this reason that weighing up several scenarios will help you to understand the uncertainty.

Take, for example, the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns around the globe opened the eyes of many companies who were previously reluctant to implement regular work from home policies. They were forced to accept that this practice enabled businesses to keep running amidst health restrictions. With the SWP applied to this example, you can already anticipate several types of impacts of working from home on your structure:

Once the various impacts have been identified, the aim is to determine their influence on the company. Always referring to the COVID example, if no action is taken to limit the impact of remote work, what is the risk for the company in terms of turnover? Which department will be most affected?

Imagining several scenarios means taking into account unexpected events.

5. Use external expertise

Strategic Workforce Planning requires different sorts of expertise, especially to identify skills missing in the company. To help you, get the support of tools and partner companies who can bring value to all stages of the project. 

For example, an expert in Strategic Workforce Planning can provide key methodology to carry out relevant scenarios and a solution that provides a dynamic skills framework with a real-time view of company talent will help you analyze your workforce effectively.

SWP is clearly not an easy task, especially when agility and digital transformation are not part of the corporate culture. A partner solution can be useful for all or part of the project and help you keep to your schedule and achieve your objectives.

As part of the impact of working from home, an SWP expert will be able to support you in implementing HR solutions to tackle your problem:

6. Analyze, advise and adapt

Once the project has been launched, your mission is still not complete. SWP is based on principles of agility and must therefore be managed using the famous “test and learn” methodology. In other words, instead of implementing a set-in-stone process, you learn continuously and adapt your approach.

To carry out an approach in line with an ever-changing environment, adopt solutions that are easily integrated into your existing tools and allow you to build on all the data. You can refer to these indicators to adapt your Strategic Workforce Planning and always keep one step ahead!

Maslow’s pyramid of needs for strategic workforce planning

Are you familiar with Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs? In 1943, American psychologist Abraham Maslow published an article entitled “A Theory of Motivation.” This publication disrupted the world of work by prioritizing human needs on five levels:

The choice to model this information in pyramid form is important, since Maslow argued that we start with physiological needs and move towards the final stage: self-fulfillment. It is a process.

Understanding your SWP needs

To help you understand your organization even better, we’ve applied Maslow’s model to strategic workforce planning. 

365Talents "Maslow's Pyramid of Strategic Workforce Planning Needs" showing 5 layers: Workforce and payroll basics, corporate strategy, skills, agility and a strategic workforce plan

SWP must be based on all these prerequisites to be effectively implemented. Indeed, a company must understand its level of maturity before embarking on strategic workforce planning.

Ready to chart a new course for your people at work? Book a demo today to learn about the tools 365Talents provides for strategic workforce planning.

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6 important steps to implement strategic workforce planning in your organization.

In today's ever-evolving business environment, organizations need to be smart about who they are hiring and how can they help achieve the business goals.

This involves taking into consideration the future skills of the organization's workforce, the employees you have onboard, the ones that require further upskilling and the talent you would need to hire in the future.

That's where Strategic Workforce Planning comes into play.

What is Strategic Workforce Planning?

In simple words, Strategic Workforce Planning is an analytics-based process to acquire the right talent, at the right time and in the right place. It includes aligning the workforce with your enterprise goals.

As the dynamics and technology of the global marketplace keep advancing, it equips businesses to stay competitive.

Strategic Workforce Planning is defined as an analytical, planning and forecasting process of defining plans to optimize the organization's talent supply and business demands at the right time.

Businesses use this process because, in absence of an effective workforce plan, they run the risk of not having adequate employees to grow the business. On the other hand, the risk of taking more talent eats into the bottom line.

6 Steps to Implement Strategic Workforce Planning into your Business

Step 1 – align business strategy with hiring needs.

The first step is to align your workforce plan needs and long-term and short-term business strategies to plan your hiring needs correctly.

If there is a change to the business strategy due to reasons such as rolling out a new product or expanding to a new geography, review your strategic workforce plan. Leaders must ask themselves what are the aspects of the business strategy that could potentially change the current talent and acquisition approach.

To get the ball rolling, take all stakeholders on-board including HR, finance department, line managers and the C-suite.

Step 2 - Analyze and Identify the Future Needs for Talent and Skills

After aligning your business strategy with your workforce plan, the next step involves identifying the skills and competencies needed to support the requirement.

You could start with breaking down the skills and competencies needed against the external and internal workforce supply. Then, project the staff needed, at what step and when.

Some questions to be answered are: what types of talent would allow the shift in strategy? What are the expected timelines for each stage of recruitment including screening, interview, notice period and onboarding?

For a successful business strategy - prioritize the roles and outline the critical ones.

Talent analytics in the form of workforce analytics gives you insights into the quality and quantity of the workforce. That includes the demographics, seniority profile, current performance, future potential, new hires, employee turnover and internal promotions.

Also, read: Top 9 Benefits of Strategic Workforce Planning for Organizations and Businesses

Step 3 – Analyze the Talent Supply and Undertake a Gap Analysis

You should analyze your internal workforce to understand the current in-house competencies and the potential gaps that need to be filled. The demographic trends in your workforce shift over time. An informed recruitment process weighs existing employee compensation and value propositions against the market trends and competition.

For example, conducting a skill gap analysis would show if you need gig workers to shift to more project-based employment. Or would you prefer upskilling and training existing employees? Or maybe, a combination of both. Another fact worth considering is digitization and technology development and if you can fill that digital skills gap in the organization.

A great way to collect employee opinions is using surveys to know their take on various aspects of your business. Additionally, employee exit surveys give insights into the level of employee satisfaction in your organization, teams and departments.

Step 4 – Preparing for Different Scenarios

Once you identify the talent needed and the time when you would hire them, the subsequent step is to develop a tactical plan outlining the course of action.

However, the future is still unpredictable. That is exactly the reason why the stakeholders use Strategic Workforce Planning process to prepare for unexpected situations.

Let's take the example of a Supermarket Cashier. An increasing number of supermarkets are installing self-checkout machines for their customers to scan and pay for their products.

Taking into consideration this model, the changes the management anticipate are:

A decreasing need for cashiers

A growing need for re-training the workforce so that they can move into other roles

Along with being prepared for industry-specific developments, unexpected situations entail a significant change in the business’s financial situation or an economic global slowdown.

And generally speaking, technology and automation are replacing and changing jobs. That being said, it is unlikely that every job would be affected, or each employee retires.

Instead, HR can implement Strategic Workforce Planning framework to anticipate the changes and to come up with strategies of attrition, up-skilling, or re-skilling to avoid future lay-offs.

Step 5 – Create and Execute a Plan

Now that you know the organization’s objectives, goals and current capacity, the next step is to create a plan to identify the cost of hiring new employees or training the existing ones and the timeframe for this activity.

Ideally, the plan should cover:

Start with the C-suite and work down – Create a top-level plan that is shared with both the decision-makers and division managers. Even at a granular level, the managers have to ensure that they operate within the timeframe you have put together.

Other factors – Turnover rate, skill set adjustment and the gap between hiring the personnel and when they actually start to work at the organization are some of the factors worth considering.

While executing the plan, keep the CEO and other key stakeholders in the loop with regular updates.

Two activities to consider, to ensure the plan does not go off the rail are:

Create a weekly plan – A weekly status report informs the stakeholders of the progress on the key aspects.

Have a backup plan for different scenarios – Monitor the plan from the beginning and don’t hesitate to make adjustments. A backup plan would help you respond to problem situations more efficiently.

Step 6 – Monitor the Progress and Evaluate the Impact

After implementing your plan and hitting some key milestones, it is crucial to monitor and evaluate the progress and impact. This is to confirm that the plan is aligned with the business goals and strategy.

The question you would ask is, "Did you achieve the objectives and desired results in the set timeframe?" Identify the key metrics to measure success so that they can be tracked and optimized. A live document could adapt to the changes the industry and business go through.

As the Strategic Workforce Planning model is implemented in full swing, you would collect real-time data. Every quarter or monthly, you could take the time to evaluate the plan. This can include:

Software to track HR metrics – Oracle Cloud HCM can crunch data, conduct workforce analysis and create actionable reports. The conclusions could help you make adjustments to improve the plan.

Taking a second look at the objectives – Chances are, in the months since you first implemented workforce planning, your objectives may have shifted. Analyze your business objectives, because they are bent to change in case of a wholesale shift in your organization’s direction. You may need to revisit the steps.

Have a comparison with existing metrics and benchmarks. At the same time, all stakeholders would need visibility and communication about the progress of the plan.

Preparing your Workforce for Tomorrow

The benefits of Strategic Workforce Planning entail all aspects of the organization ranging from workforce retention, recruitment, learning, development, compensation and benefits.

Evosys is the global provider of Oracle Strategic Workforce Planning to startups, corporates, multinationals and SMEs in every sector. We have helped 1,200+ companies define a set of procedures for workforce planning to deal with and eventually avoid hiring problems, to take advantage of talent opportunities and improve your organization's talent pipeline.

As Oracle Partners, we enable you to determine the talent segments delivering high returns and therefore need higher investment.

Find out more about how we can help your organization navigate its next. Let us know your areas of interest so that we can serve you better.

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Insights / Human Resources / Article

6 keys to strategic workforce planning in turbulent times.

February 09, 2022

Contributor: Zhenli Lin

With effective coordination and greater transparency, you can overcome the limitations of business-unit level workforce plans and better support your organization in advancing its strategic priorities.

Most organizations now realize that a holistic overview of skills in an organization-wide workforce plan will enable them to deploy employees across business units (BUs) more effectively, especially when a mismatch in talent demand and supply needs to be urgently addressed. However, most organizations are making workforce plans at a BU level and often struggle to bring them together in a strategic workforce plan for the organization. Instead of thinking about workforce plans at an organization or BU level as two distinct options, identify the steps and activities that should be conducted at a BU level. Then focus on how these inputs may be used to inform plans made at an organization level.

Download now: How to Build a Business Case for Strategic Workforce Planning

Organizational Workforce Planning Steps With BU Inputs

To better understand how an organization-level workforce plan can be conducted with inputs from BU-level workforce planning , a closer look at the activities involved in each step of the process is necessary. The activities involved in workforce planning can be broadly categorized as designing and execution.

Designing Activities

The first four steps in the strategic workforce planning process involve designing activities. The inclusion of stakeholders within a BU differs depending on the activity, some of which are conducted at both the BU and organization levels.

Step 1: Prepare for Strategic Workforce Planning

As part of preparation for the strategic workforce planning process, identify:

To overcome time constraints and yet continue to actively shape future hiring needs, American Red Cross uses a prioritization framework to identify BUs with high growth rates and high alignment with organization’s priorities as critical BUs. American Red Cross prioritizes deeper talent planning conversations for critical BUs but still takes a light-touch approach with its other BUs. Those with similar resource constraints can take inspiration from this prioritization approach to identify critical BUs to partner and invest in.

Step 2: Understand the Business Strategy

Three main activities are performed as part of understanding the business strategy: setting business objectives, analyzing internal and external labor markets and assessing talent needs. In these activities, a bidirectional flow of information takes place between the key stakeholders overseeing workforce planning on an organization level and those within the individual BUs. Key stakeholders overseeing workforce planning on an organization level usually include the head of talent management and business leaders in top management. In contrast, workforce planning within individual BUs usually involves the HR business partners (HRBPs) and business leaders of the specific business segment.

Key Insights of Cross-HR Skills Team Members

To obtain a more accurate insight into skills needs, Lloyds Banking Group assembled a cross-HR skills team that collaborates with the business on skills planning.

The cross-HR skills team includes representatives from all relevant HR subfunctions such as total rewards, talent management, recruiting and L&D.

When setting business objectives:

When analyzing external labor markets:

When analyzing internal labor market:

When assessing talent needs:

Step 3: Diagnose Risks to Strategy Execution

You will need to use the results of the internal and external labor markets analysis in Step 2 to diagnose risks of executing a workforce strategy. A key activity here is to align talent needs with business objectives. This involves:

Step 4: Develop a Plan to Address Risks

When drafting a workforce plan to address talent risks:

Execution Activities

Execution activities are mostly conducted at the BU level but involve collaboration with stakeholders throughout the organization. In executing a workforce plan, set clear triggers for when a plan needs reevaluation and assign ownership for trigger identification.

Step 5: Prepare to Execute the Plan

Before you can effectively execute the organization’s workforce plan, you need to:

The Australian Financial Security Authority splits the responsibility for updating workforce plans between HR and business leaders based on their existing expertise. This way, each party works on updates where it can have the greatest impact. The split is made such that HR is responsible for identifying labor market triggers, while business leaders are responsible for identifying business triggers, which they already track for business strategy purposes.

Trigger Identification Process for Updating the Workforce Plan

Step 6: Monitor the Plan

To know if a reevaluation is needed, it's imperative to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the workforce plan. BU leaders should set up regular check-ins with HRBPs to review the BU’s workforce plan against objectives. The head of talent management should do the same with BU leaders to evaluate the effectiveness of the workforce plan and determine if an adjustment to the plan is needed.

Conducting workforce planning at an organizational level can indeed be challenging. However, it is not an insurmountable task.

To foster success, work closely with other stakeholders in the organization, especially the BU HR leaders who can collectively contribute to the creation of an effective workforce plan at an organizational level.

With effective coordination and greater transparency, workforce planning at an organizational level can overcome the limitations of BU-level workforce plans and better support the organization in advancing toward its strategic priorities.

This article originally appeared in HR Leaders Monthly in October 2021. Download the full issue here .

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steps in strategic workforce planning

October 15, 2021

Five crucial steps to strategic workforce planning.

Workforce planning is an integral part of the full lifecycle of talent management in an organization, starting from hiring to retention. However, not many organizations actively take part in the effective workforce planning or fail to see its relevance in employee management. 

Workforce Planning, in simple terms, involves the process of analyzing, forecasting, and planning workforce supply and demand, assessing talent gaps and determining any talent management interventions to ensure that an organization has the right people  – with the right skills in the right places at the right time to carry out business operations effectively and efficiently. Here are the five crucial steps of effective workforce planning.

Identify Your Current Recruitment Needs 

Identifying your current recruitment needs is one of the core steps of effective workforce planning. Even if you’re sorting your workforce requirements through a  manpower supplier , identifying the proper recruitment needs of your company is a crucial step. 

You can quickly identify the current recruitment requirements of your company by answering questions such as, What positions need to be filled? What positions are critical in your organizations? What areas or job positions do you have a hard time finding talent for? Like so systematically evaluating your current recruitment needs, can give you a clear outline of the structure or type of workforce you need. 

Assess The Current State And Future State Of The Workforce 

The next step of effective workforce planning is assessing the current and future state of the workforce. What is the current state of the workforce? Is the current workforce stable, or does it need a restructuring? If so, where? and what should your workplace or workforce ideally look like in 12 months down the line? 

Based on your company’s vision and mission, where do you see the essential requirements for the workforce or manpower supply ? If you’re planning to launch a new product or a new branch in a few years down the line, what are new staff requirements? 

Determining answers to these questions will help you prioritize your workforce needs both in the present and the future and will help you develop appropriate recruiting and retention strategies that can easily set up your future organization’s workforce success. 

Identify Talent Gaps 

The next step you need to take towards workforce planning is to identify talent gaps. Sometimes,  although you might have all the positions filled in an organization, you might not get the desired results, outputs or performances because of the talent gap that exists. In simple terms, is the mismatch that exists between your employees’ current level of talent, skill, or competencies and where you require them to be to meet your organization’s or team’s goals. 

By identifying talent gaps appropriately, you can easily make sure your workforce planning is rectifying these gaps in future recruitment processes. They also provide sufficient insight into the types of training and development programs your current workforce requires to upgrade their competencies and performances to meet your organization’s objectives. 

Assess The Current Workforce Risks 

Workforce risks are an inevitable factor within an organization. Be it from a higher employee turnover or challenges in attracting suitable candidates; every organization has vulnerabilities in terms of staffing. Some organizations may also face workforce risks as a large group of senior talent quickly works towards retirement. And in some cases, workforce risks may come in the form of fierce competition for a particular group of talents (e.g. Tech talent) or trying to hire reliable candidates in less-than-desirable parts of the country. Likewise, by assessing your organization’s current workforce risks, it’s easier to ensure your workforce plans focus more on mitigating these risks, resulting in higher workforce productivity and effective recruitment and retention strategies. 

Develop A Recruitment & Retention Strategy 

The final step of effective workforce planning is to develop a robust recruitment and retention strategy based on the insights you gained from the other 4 steps. The ultimate goal of workforce planning is to ensure you’re hiring the right candidates and retaining them in the long run for your company’s success. Typically your recruitment and retention strategy should focus on the following, 

If you’re struggling with an effective workforce plan to equip your business with precise talent, contact us at the World Star Manpower. As one of the leading  manpower supply companies in the UAE , we have a proven record of experience in the manpower supply industry in the UAE. We assure to provide you with the right manpower, for every unique blue and white-collar job requirement across all major sectors with minimal downtime. 

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8 keys to a successful strategic workforce planning implementation

A comprehensive approach for workforce planning , featuring insights from the Human Capital Institute

We read everywhere that business is global—it’s not becoming global, it is global. People are working remotely and collaborating globally more than ever before. Companies are opening offices in more places all over the world and hiring in local communities more than ever before, all in a period of heightened competition to attract and retain top talent. Additionally, according to recently released research on workforce planning by Workday and the Human Capital Institute (HCI) surveying nearly 400 professionals, employees are growing increasingly disengaged and more are demanding flexible work engagements.

These reasons, along with the need to mitigate risk and adapt to changing business models, aren’t unnoticed by HR leaders—the majority of the companies surveyed acknowledged the need for a comprehensive approach to strategic workforce planning . According to Jenna Filipkowski, the director of research at HCI and author of the survey report, effective implementation of a strategic workforce plan can enable leaders to “address the workforce skill and capability gaps and changing workforce demographics, and to facilitate growth plans for new markets.”

Yet only 44 percent of companies surveyed report that they are effective at tying workforce strategy to business strategy. Additionally, 45 percent say that they are unprepared for the talent needs of the future.

But as one survey respondent said, we all have to start somewhere—and in this blog, I’ll detail the eight keys HCI recommends in order to implement a successful strategic workforce plan.

Key 1: Articulate workforce planning processes that support and sync talent and business outcomes

According to the report, the strategic workforce planning process should flow throughout the organization and repeated as necessary for greatest success. But when companies were asked how often they revised their plans, more than half admitted that they do it only once a year. Not only that, but only 43 percent of respondents say that their process is scalable across the organization.

Clearly, these numbers can be improved—and doing so requires working with a living plan that can be adjusted in real time, using real-time data, so that HR leaders can identify skill deficiencies and improve operational efficiency to ensure that business results will align with company goals.

Key 2: Segment roles to determine how each position contributes value and which roles are a priority or on the periphery

Do you have too many account executives (AEs) and not enough engineers? Or too many people in the finance department and not enough in marketing? To determine this, HR leaders need to identify the key skills needed in the company, particularly those that are most directly correlated to revenue, cost, controls, or cost and operational efficiencies.

For example, in a robust economy, Company A wants to increase revenue and raises sales goals for its AEs. HR leaders and hiring managers must then quickly determine how much support the AEs will need from a demand generation perspective and hire for those roles accordingly. On the other hand, if the economy contracts and the company sees a drop in demand, it’s likely to slow or freeze hiring for non-essential roles.

Key 3: Conduct a scan of the workplace environment to identify and monitor trends that affect the workforce and the organization

With employee disengagement rising, implementing employee engagement programs to address retention risk is becoming increasingly important for companies that want to attract and retain top talent.

If your company doesn’t do so already, a good place to start would be to survey your employee base. Additionally (and this may be somewhat controversial), you should continue conducting performance reviews—but ensure that they’re fair. One way to ensure fairness is to “rate the rater” or manager, which then allows you to normalize the routinely low and and high scores.

Leaders can then see whether an employee is stagnating in a role, based on data like time since the last promotion or raise, and if there’s a better fit in another department or another role. This data can also be used for proper filtering to determine which employees are ready for a promotion.

Key 4: Inventory and evaluate the current workforce and management

This sounds similar to the last point as it also ties into retention planning , but there is a slight difference: By looking at data across the workforce, leaders can identify if there is a particular department in which attrition is happening more than others. Once identified, they can provide a solution, such as improved leadership training, to address the situation.

Key 5: Construct a detailed plan of how the organization and the workplace environment should look in the coming years.

Markets are always evolving. Demographics change, new regions become stale while old ones are revived, and consumer demands shift. To stay competitive, you should consider advances in both technological and operational norms—for example, new technologies can help you stay on top of required headcount for new markets or redistribute headcount based on consumer demand.

Having a process that facilitates conversations with your lines of business leaders and their HR counterparts is essential for surfacing future skills needs—and having the right strategic workforce planning solution can help you with that. The first step is to determine what skill sets are needed for getting ahead of disruptors (trends- or technology-based) in your current market and new markets, as well as for newly identified channels to deliver your products or services (e.g., online vs. big box stores). The process should also encompass identifying trends in how your workforce of the future is deployed and address questions such as how the growing trend of having virtual teams will impact office space requirements.

Key 6: Identify gaps between the current state of the workforce and the desired future state of your organization.

This goes back to Key 4 discussed in the first blog, which outlines the importance of inventorying and evaluating the current workforce and management. After gathering the information about your workforce, you can now use the data to compare and see whether your current workforce meets your company’s needs in the near future. If new skill sets or training is necessary, you can develop a timeline for transitioning the workforce to ensure you stay ahead of competitors.

Key 7: Build in a repeatable action plan to revise pieces (or all) of your workforce planning process to better reflect organizational changes or new talent source system initiatives that require integration.

Change happens. Full collaboration among people, data, and technology is key to effective workforce planning process maintenance. As mentioned in Key 1 and according to the HCI report, the strategic workforce planning process should flow throughout the organization and be repeated as necessary for greatest success. However, only 55 percent of respondents reported revising their strategic workforce plans on a yearly basis, while 13 percent said they “never” revise their plans. On top of that, 12 percent said they revise their plans biannually, and the remaining 12 percent do it quarterly.

Key 8: Monitor and report quantitative and qualitative benchmarks and milestones to stakeholders and management.

According to the survey, the lack of analytic capabilities is one of the biggest barriers to using data effectively for strategic workforce planning and is driving strong demand for corporate talent management software.

And no wonder: Less than half of survey participants reported that their workforce planning team analyzes data effectively (45 percent). Seventy-one percent cited utilizing predictive talent analytics as one of the top challenges, while 66 percent said the ability to access data spanning the entire talent lifecycle was a challenge. Additionally, 66 percent of respondents said tying talent data to business outcomes was difficult and 61 percent had trouble integrating data from other business functions.

As you can see, strategic workforce planning is still a challenge for many companies. However, with a solution like Anaplan Workforce Planning in place, you can plan for and optimize the workforce as needed so your organization can gain and maintain its competitive edge.

For more information on how Anaplan helps HR departments, watch the workforce planning video .

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What are the Steps in Workforce Planning?

Explore –, what is workforce planning.

How Can Workforce Planning Help?

Workforce planning is a process in which organizations align their needs with the needs of its workforce. It is the process of having the right people who have the right skills at the right time in the organization.

According to Bersin by Deloitte, one of the world’s leading firms for HR research, 90% of companies conduct some level of workforce planning; only 15% take a strategic approach to addressing the talent demand, talent supply, and the steps required to close the gap between the two. According to Bersin, only 20% of the workforce planning produce useful results for business leaders while forecasting revenue and operating budgets.

Traditional workforce planning process involves the human resource team, while strategic workforce planning is a shared responsibility between business leaders across the organization. The key to effective strategic workforce planning comes from its ability to hone on critical talent, their needs, their historical data, and develop a targeted talent strategy.

The Strategic Workforce Planning Process 

Workforce planning comes with a lot of challenges, and it is essential to use useful tools and methods at your disposal. The most crucial function of any talent management team is to build the organizational capability required to execute strategy, along with the ability to conduct Strategic Workforce Planning effectively.

5 Proven Steps for Strategic Workforce Planning:

Step 1 – having strategic intent.

The entire process begins with having a strategic plan. The talent management team, along with line executives, should review the business strategy at the Corporate and Functional level, capturing key business priorities and understanding the drivers of business success.

Step 2 – Determining Strategic Positions

The next step towards strategic workforce planning involves determining strategic areas. Identifying roles that have the potential to accelerate the achievement of the business strategy and competencies are vital to executing strategy and in delivering results in line with the business goals.

Step 3 – Identifying Strategic Players

Every organization has individual employees who occupy strategic positions, and they are vital players. They possess immense knowledge, attributes, and skill for that position, and their profile becomes a point of reference. It is crucial to assess each incumbent in a strategic area since the roles are only as important as the people who occupy them.

Step 4 – Implementing an action plan

The action plan step involves the coming together of different teams and departments in bringing your workforce plan to life. The measures include discussing allotted budget with accounting team and communicating and marketing new positions available to the respective parties. There is also a need to coordinate with your executive team, IT staff, and middle management for the smooth running of the process.

Step 5 – Report, Monitor, and Adjust 

Once you have clearly defined what is required to deliver your strategic intent, it is imperative to develop reporting, monitoring, measuring frameworks to ensure the process is self-sustaining. This step helps you to adjust and improve the results of your workforce planning.

What are the Steps in Workforce Planning? 9

When used correctly, workforce planning can help businesses identify and rectify issues quickly. It is an integral part of any organizations recruitment strategy. It helps in identifying critical roles and aid in filling such positions. The company can recruit for these vital positions at the right time to ensure that the expansion goes according to schedule. Workforce planning aligns the business planning with hiring and employee retention planning .

To Sum It Up! 

To assess the current and future needs of an organization Workforce planning is crucial, both in terms of quality and quantity. It directly links human resources activities to organizational objectives.

Organizations sustain and develop high-quality workforce planning programs and break down the traditional barriers to effective workforce planning.

Organizations must invest in workforce planning technology that supports predictive supply analytics, employee- level action-planning, bottom-up demand planning, and summarization of gaps.

It provides organizations with a cushion by preparing it for external and internal factors that may affect its activities. Workforce planning determines the successful implementation and achievement of an organization’s objectives and goals.

What are the Steps in Workforce Planning? 10

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Strategic Workforce Planning – 5 Simple Steps

workforce planning

Strategic workforce planning involves ensuring that an organization has the right people who have the right skills at the right time, according to CQ University Australia. The workplace planning model helps your HR team examine the gaps in your present workforce. It also helps to determine HR needs in the future.

As your HR and executive teams are aware, planning and achieving your organization’s human capital needs is one of the greater challenges you face. It takes a short-term toll it takes on your HR team’s time and energies. It also affects your company’s overall strategic plans and budget and finances. Human resource projects require that you consider environmental factors and legislative requirements. Regulations and governance should be considered too.

It is easy to imagine HR feeling overwhelmed when faced with workforce planning tasks. This makes it important to develop steps to strategic workforce planning to simplify the process.

How Can a Strategic Workforce Planning Model Help Your HR Team and Organisation?

Developed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the 5-step Workplace Planning model serves as a practical starting point. This provides a detailed understanding of all the elements involved in workforce management. A solid workforce planning process helps your HR team and organization in several ways, including:

Key Challenges That HR Teams Face in the Modern Workplace

The forecasting aspect of strategic workforce planning is likely to reveal the biggest hurdles your HR team will face. Explore some of the following challenges to determine if any seem familiar:

There are many possible workforce management challenges, on top of standard HR issues. It is important to use any effective tools and processes at your disposal.

Follow 5 Simple Steps to Efficient Workforce Planning

There is a strategic five-step planning cycle for planning in the workforce. The steps to workforce planning are simple to follow. Once you feel ready, you may expand and tailor them to your organization’s specifications.

1.Set Strategic Planning

At this point, gather all the relevant information for your workforce planning process. Request your agency’s strategic plan for the time that you plan to explore. You might ask your executive team to provide you with an annual and business plan. This should feature the projected needs for how to carry out goals, including the number of employees required. Discuss factors with project leaders regarding the duration of engagement with new employees. Determine overall onboarding goals.

2. Analyze Your Current Workplace Profile

This step allows you to take a deeper look at the current staff. Set out to identify where frequent understaffing might occur in your organization . Understand the reason for larger turnover rates in one department over another. You may unearth strategic requirements that lie at the root of these issues.

3. Develop an Action Plan

Identify strategies to help close any gaps you learn in the first two steps. Consider investing in real-time reporting software to help track employee productivity accurately. You might discover that this is a specific issue within your organization, for example. Restructuring and outsourcing can provide prudent solutions. However, most problems can be isolated to certain teams. This can be remedied in the form of additional recruitment, in-depth training, and technological investments.

4. Implement Your Action Plan

This step requires working with different departments and teams to bring your workforce efficiency plan to life. Discuss your allotted budget with your accounting team or financial analyst. Communicate and market new positions available to the desired parties. You will need to coordinate with your executive team, IT staff, and middle management. This is to ensure things keep running smoothly at this point.

5. Monitor, Evaluate, and Revise Your Plan

Monitor the implementation of your plan to determine its effectiveness, as well as any weaknesses. This step allows you to make adjustments to improve the results of your workforce planning project.

The Benefits of Workforce Planning

The workforce planning model offers your HR team many advantages, including:

Get Support When Starting Your Own Workforce Planning

Whether you plan to take a training course or invest in workforce planning software , this guidance can help your HR team get up to speed quickly and with greater confidence.

Author:  pierce

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McKinsey Expert: How to Build the Best Team to Support the CFO

As CFOs are tasked with more responsibilities, one way to create greater value across the enterprise is to envision what next-level financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams will look like. McKinsey & Co. expert Michele Tam identifies considerations for finance leaders looking to the future.

steps in strategic workforce planning

How Sales Teams Can Successfully Navigate Today’s Environment

In a time when unpredictability is the new status quo, sales teams need a powerful planning tool that can help them course-correct with precision and speed.

steps in strategic workforce planning

How to Solve the Challenges of Headcount Reconciliation

Finance and HR routinely produce headcount numbers that don’t match—and that’s a problem.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Efficiently Navigating International Regulations and Multinational Growth: Can Your ERP Do This?

Shifting regulatory environments, compliance obligations, and tax laws around the globe are increasing challenges for businesses using legacy systems. The Workday Enterprise Management Cloud offers a new approach geared toward the future.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Workday Podcast: The A to Z of Quote-to-Cash for Tech and Media Companies

You may not realize how quote-to-cash is a part of everyday life, but it’s humming behind the scenes as companies work to influence your decisions about apps, services, and subscriptions. In this episode, it’s all about quote-to-cash for technology and media companies with Igor Stenmark from MGI Research and Justin Joseph from Workday.

steps in strategic workforce planning

How to Make Financial Planning a Year-Round Process

Making financial planning a continuous, year-round process will improve your company’s agility and help it reach its strategic goals.

steps in strategic workforce planning

A Future-Ready Workforce Calls for Companywide Planning

For successful workforce planning, organizations must rethink their talent strategies to minimize skills gaps, maximize hiring investments, and better align talent with corporate objectives.

steps in strategic workforce planning

9 Ways to Plan for the Changing World of Finance

To thrive in a competitive and global marketplace, you need exceptional financial forecasting processes and a finance team capable of orchestrating them.

steps in strategic workforce planning

The Power of Continuous Planning for Retail CFOs

The age of continuous planning for retail CFOs is here, and it is the key to unlocking increased efficiency, lowering costs, and forging a positive path forward, even through disruption.

steps in strategic workforce planning

The Power of the Employee Voice in Successful Business Transformation

Successful business transformation initiatives can be difficult to manage, especially when employees aren’t aligned with leadership. The best way to close that stakeholder gap is by empowering the employee voice.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Continuous Planning Catapults Finance Forward

As countless businesses have discovered, adopting a culture of continuous planning helps unlock an agile future.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Why an Intelligent Data Foundation Is Key to Becoming Decision-Ready

How can you get to the underlying financial and operational data that reveals what’s really driving the business? Discover how to overcome common barriers and where to best invest so you can adapt to change as it happens.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Planning for a Sustainable Future: How Organizations Can Deliver Data-Driven ESG Results

Organizations dedicated to their role in the global movement toward sustainability have put responsible environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices at the forefront. Deloitte’s Rikki Stancich and Andrew Wood describe how to use Workday Adaptive Planning to assess ESG metrics, determine improvement goals, and report progress.

steps in strategic workforce planning

To Plan Better, Close Smarter

A modern close process can accelerate business agility and create a frictionless, collaborative environment for accounting and financial planning and analysis (FP&A).

steps in strategic workforce planning

These 2 Imperatives Will Help You Close the Acceleration Gap

The gap between the intensifying rate of change and an organization’s ability to keep up with it is a strategic problem with painful results. Here’s what’s required to close the gap.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Accelerating the Digital Finance Journey: A Four-Step Framework for Value Creation

The enterprise management cloud can help organizations remove friction in their finance processes to achieve greater efficiency and add enterprise value. Workday's Barbara Larson lays out the process.

steps in strategic workforce planning

How Flexibility Can Drive the Great Retention of Frontline Workers

Workplaces that employ hourly workers aren’t always known for flexibility. But technology, powered with artificial intelligence and machine learning, can help workplaces be more attractive to frontline talent. Enter flexible scheduling for frontline workers.

steps in strategic workforce planning

CFOs Reveal Top Priorities for Future-Proofing Finance Teams

Workday’s latest CFO Indicator survey asked 267 CFOs around the globe about their plans and priorities for the next five years. Learn how those who were identified as “finance outperformers” are leading the way by investing in skills and technology for the future.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Why Finance Needs to Rethink the Reporting Process

With data visualization and real-time dashboards, CFOs and finance teams are able to better understand what their data is trying to tell them.

steps in strategic workforce planning

What CFOs Need to Consider When Envisioning the Future of Finance

CFOs must take a forward-looking approach when thinking about data, talent, and technology for the finance function, according to experts from AICPA, Deloitte, and Workday.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Dynamic Forecasting: A North Star for Businesses in Uncertain Times

Dynamic forecasting can guide businesses through fluid markets and uncertain times. A recent report by Business Application Research Center (BARC), in collaboration with Workday, indicates businesses are starting to respond to the urgency to be more agile and are shifting to intelligent, real-time forecasting.

steps in strategic workforce planning

How to Improve Profitability Analysis

Profitability analysis can drive decision-making and move the needle on future profits by answering key questions.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Increasing Finance Operations Efficiency at First Sentier Investors

When First Sentier Investors was acquired, company leaders only had six months to stand up an all-new financial management platform. The CFO of First Sentier Investors shares how the company transformed its reporting, analysis, budgeting, and forecasting processes in record time.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Technology, Media, and Entertainment Companies Explore the Future of Hybrid Work

At Conversations for a Changing World, leaders from Cisco and Accenture talked about the future of hybrid work for technology, media, and entertainment companies.

steps in strategic workforce planning

From Workforce Management to Optimization: The Evolving Roles of HR and Operations

What may seem like a tipping point in the labor market has, in reality, always been a constant: change. Navigating this change in the moment requires a strong partnership between operational and HR leaders.

steps in strategic workforce planning

How Continuous Recalibration Helps Your Business Avoid the Acceleration Gap

The pace of business is even faster now as companies plan for life after COVID-19. What's trending today becomes tomorrow’s disruption—and tomorrow’s disruption will eventually define a new way of working.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Why xP&A is the Future of Planning

Want to improve collaboration? Here are five tips to ignite company-wide engagement and build confidence in your financial planning process.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Charting the Path to Modern Planning

For a growing number of successful enterprises, becoming more adaptable has meant charting a path to modern planning.

steps in strategic workforce planning

What Is Zero-Based Budgeting?

Zero-based budgeting is useful for companies looking to align spending with business goals during uncertain times.

steps in strategic workforce planning

Machine Learning and the Future of Intelligent Planning

The pace of change was accelerating even before businesses were rocked by the pandemic. Change will remain a fixture long after pandemic disruption is over.


  1. What is hr planning process. 4 Steps to Strategic Human Resources Planning. 2019-03-03

    steps in strategic workforce planning

  2. Workforce Planning

    steps in strategic workforce planning

  3. Workforce planning

    steps in strategic workforce planning

  4. Successful Workforce Planning

    steps in strategic workforce planning

  5. Strategic workforce planning

    steps in strategic workforce planning

  6. PPT

    steps in strategic workforce planning


  1. Strategic Workforce Planning

  2. Strategic planning

  3. Strategic Planning

  4. Overview: Connected Planning

  5. Strategic HRM |Chapter-5

  6. Overview: Connected Planning


  1. What Is Strategic Workforce Planning? 5 Steps for Successful Planning

    Correspondingly, actions arising from strategic workforce planning will include: Buying in new skills or creating learning roadmaps or talent pipelines to develop them internally Developing transition pathways to reskill and redeploy people where demand is reducing Improving retention and engagement.

  2. Strategic workforce planning guide: Key steps and objectives

    Workforce planning encompasses such processes as analyzing the current workforce and determining future needs, identifying gaps between status-quo and destination point, designing and implementing solutions to accomplish the goals, and finally, fulfilling the strategic plan through the proper use of talent. Step-by-step guide

  3. 14 Essential Steps In Workforce Planning

    One essential step in strategic workforce planning is the follow-through with evaluating, monitoring and making ongoing adjustments to the workforce plan. Ensure regular performance...

  4. 7 Steps For Successful Strategic Workforce Planning

    Steps to successful strategic workforce planning 1. Consider the long-term goals of the organization 2. Analyze your current workforce 3. Find future skills gaps 4. Prepare for different scenarios 5. Don't hesitate to ask for external advice 6. Don't forget your company culture 7. Monitor and adapt In closing Before you continue

  5. Four Main Steps of Strategic Workforce Planning

    Four Main Steps of Strategic Workforce Planning To determine the human resources your company needs, you must first know where you want to go. Step 1: Strategic workforce planning begins with the business and organizational strategy of the company and flows from there. Is the company growing current product lines?

  6. 10 Steps for Effective Strategic Workforce Planning

    10 steps for effective strategic workforce planning 1. Keep in mind the organization's long term objectives Strategic workforce planning is about making sure people within your organization are able to deliver the wider business goals. It would therefore be logical to start with those key business goals.

  7. A Guide to Strategic Workforce Planning

    Workforce planning centers around three key steps. The first is an analysis of the current workforce. The second is a conceptualization of the future. The third is an analysis of the workforce in the future. Let's discuss these one by one 1. Analysis of the current formation of the workforce

  8. Strategic Workforce Planning: Steps and Process

    The workforce planning process typically consists of four steps: Setting Strategic Goals And Direction Analysing the Existing Workforce Developing an Action Plan Implementing Workforce Plan Monitoring & Evaluating Results Let's discuss the steps in detail. Setting Strategic Goals And Direction

  9. 6 steps to skill-based strategic workforce planning

    The strategic workforce planning process generally includes the following steps: Strategic direction. Needs analysis. Workforce analysis. Gap analysis. Solution implementation. Measuring progress. In this blog, we will examine each of these steps and propose a better, skill-based approach to strategic workforce planning.

  10. Workforce Planning: Model, Process, Steps [Guide 2023]

    Strategic workforce planning tends to take place at the senior leadership level and focuses on big picture goals such as: Structural organization Employee redeployment Succession planning Staffing budgets Maintaining capacity Reducing risk Operational workforce planning

  11. The 5-step strategic workforce planning framework

    A five-step framework for strategic workforce planning 1) Plan. Regardless of how well-established your business is, every good leader has a business plan. The best plans are in an easily digestible format and usually fit a 3-5 year window.

  12. Strategic Workforce Planning

    The first step in building an effective workforce plan is understanding the organization's business strategy and goals. HR leaders should partner with business leaders to understand strategic objectives and build a business case for the investment in a strategic workforce plan.

  13. Strategic Workforce Planning: Definition, Steps, Maslow's Pyramid

    There are two ways to consider the analysis of your workforce, in terms of quality and quantity. Quality: Assess employees on their current performance and future potential. Quantity: Quantify your workforce then segment it, taking into account recruitment, turnover and internal mobility. Ask yourself:

  14. 6 Steps to Implement Strategic Workforce Planning

    6 Steps to Implement Strategic Workforce Planning into your Business Step 1 - Align Business Strategy with Hiring Needs The first step is to align your workforce plan needs and long-term and short-term business strategies to plan your hiring needs correctly.

  15. Workforce Planning: How to Do It on an Organizational Level

    Step 1: Prepare for Strategic Workforce Planning. As part of preparation for the strategic workforce planning process, identify: Key components in a workforce plan document. Key stakeholders and their responsibilities in the process. Critical BUs to partner and prioritize investments in.

  16. 5 Key Steps To Strategic Workforce Planning

    The final step of effective workforce planning is to develop a robust recruitment and retention strategy based on the insights you gained from the other 4 steps. The ultimate goal of workforce planning is to ensure you're hiring the right candidates and retaining them in the long run for your company's success.

  17. 8 keys steps to successful strategic workforce planning

    The first step is to determine what skill sets are needed for getting ahead of disruptors (trends- or technology-based) in your current market and new markets, as well as for newly identified channels to deliver your products or services (e.g., online vs. big box stores).

  18. What are the Steps in Workforce Planning? [5 Proven Steps]

    5 Proven Steps for Strategic Workforce Planning: Step 1 - Having Strategic Intent. The entire process begins with having a strategic plan. The talent management team, along with line executives, should review the business strategy at the Corporate and Functional level, capturing key business priorities and understanding the drivers of ...

  19. 5 Simple Steps to Efficient Workforce Planning

    There is a strategic five-step planning cycle for planning in the workforce. The steps to workforce planning are simple to follow. Once you feel ready, you may expand and tailor them to your organization's specifications. 1.Set Strategic Planning At this point, gather all the relevant information for your workforce planning process.

  20. PDF OPM's Workforce Planning Model

    Step 1: Set Strategic Direction . This step involves linking the workforce planning process with the agency's strategic plan, annual performance/business plan, and work activities required to carry out the goals and objectives of the strategic plan (long term) and performance plan (short term). Step 2: Analyze Workforce, Identify Skill Gaps ...

  21. Planning

    Adaptability Is a Strategic Imperative for Future Success. Traditional planning practices can leave organizations poorly equipped to anticipate and respond to economic or market shifts. Learn how cloud-first modern planning software makes a big difference. Dennis Yen December 15, 2022.