What Is Workforce Planning?

Planning for the workforce is a critical business process. Workforce planning aims to reconcile changing organizational needs with human capital strategy. It is an ongoing process, owing to the fluid nature of organizational change. While this may be a difficult task, it does not have to be. Workforce planning can be modified and adapted to reflect your organization’s maturity and size. Workforce planning can be tailored to an organization’s size and maturity. Now a little more in-depth. Workforce planning analyzes the current workforce, forecasts future workforce requirements, identifies gaps between current and future workforce requirements, and develops solutions to ensure effective organizational change. It all comes down to finding the ideal fit. According to statistics, 60% of businesses believe they need to improve their workforce planning capabilities.

Benefits of Workforce Planning

Acquiring genuine talent can be difficult in today’s candidate market, but retaining them can be even more difficult. Suppose you do not support your organization’s talent strategy and culture through methodical workforce planning. In that case, you risk losing out on critical projects and increased costs across the business due to an inability to hire, retain, and empower top talent when it is most needed. With strategic workforce planning, you’ll gain the intelligence to forecast future skill and employee requirements and define strategies for balancing business demand and the supply of crucial talent over time. Here are seven of the most significant advantages.

Prepare for and anticipate change: Strategic workforce planning enables you to establish critical metric benchmarks that inform executives about workforce issues and arm them with tools for identifying talent risk before impacting business objectives. For instance, are labor costs expected to increase as the business expands? Are there any employees who intend to retire soon, and how will this affect the business’s operations? What is the average churn rate by department, and how can you implement a process to ensure that levels of a workflow are maintained? This data will assist you in optimizing business planning and financial forecasting by quantifying the talent requirements to achieve short- and long-term organizational goals.Reduce the cost of hiring: Having a detailed understanding of your organization’s headcount requirements and the productivity levels required to run and grow the business ensures that you’re making the best use of your talent. This will reduce recruitment costs and improve the efficiency of business operations, which will benefit the entire organization.Enhance the recruitment process: Strategic workforce planning can assist you in defining the characteristics and traits of high performers in each department and inform your hiring criteria to identify candidates who are most likely to fit the business’s goals and culture. This will increase employee retention and interview-to-hire rates and save time and money during the recruitment process.Contribute to talent investment allocation: Strategic workforce planning enables you to identify which employees generate the greatest return on investment for the business and thus merit increased investment in their training and development. Likewise, it will outline which areas require additional resources to reach their full potential and contribute more to the business. Additionally, this will inform you of which roles are critical to the business’s growth, allowing you to take steps to protect them and mitigate risk.Identify talent gaps in your organization’s talent chain: If your workforce strategy and business objectives are aligned, you can quickly identify which will be required in the future as the business approaches a critical point of expansion. Additionally, you can quickly identify any existing gaps in your workforce that could be filled.Utilize informed retention strategies: Human resource professionals and managers may abuse raises, bonuses, and promotions intended to deter resignations without the proper tools. Strategic workforce planning enables you to leverage predictive analytics to accurately identify high performers and individuals in critical roles who are on the verge of leaving. From here, you can develop a retention strategy to mitigate risk and progress.

Tips for Strategic Workforce Planning

Strategic workforce planning determines the company’s future human resource requirements and recruits individuals with the necessary skillsets. When you plan strategically, you ensure that you have the appropriate people, with the appropriate skills, at the appropriate time. Strategic workforce planning is synonymous with proactive workforce planning. It is critical to actively and consciously anticipate industry changes and hire for future job fit. You must consider the company’s strategic objectives and recruit candidates who can assist you in accomplishing them. Now, let’s look at how you can adequately implement your strategic workforce planning process:

1. Eliminate workplace planning myths

The majority of strategic workforce planning snafus occur due to workforce planning misconceptions. These erroneous beliefs affect how people engage in the process. Another widespread misconception is that human resource planning is solely the responsibility of the human resources department. However, this is incorrect. Departmental and project managers are aware of their divisions’ unique hiring requirements. They can ensure that the hiring process produces the best results if they participate in the strategic workforce planning process. Another indeed fatalistic misconception about workforce planning is that each plan/strategy must be perfect once the plan is implemented. However, change is an unavoidable part of life. As you carry out your recruitment plans, market conditions, competitors, and company growth necessitate adjustments to your hiring strategies. Participants in the strategic workforce planning process must understand that the exercise is robust and dynamic. Otherwise, your strategic workforce planning will hire the incorrect type of employees.

2. Maintain a vigilant eye on the changing internal landscape of your business.

Your business is a living, breathing entity. For instance, your company may be transitioning from a highly hierarchical environment to one that is more open and flat. Alternatively, you may have begun hiring people outside the country rather than locally, resulting in a highly diverse corporate culture. All of these factors impact the process of strategic workforce planning. That is why you must monitor and keep track of the changes within your organization and assess the impact of these changes. It is critical to monitor these changes constantly and understand your business’s direction. Also, it will benefit if you determine whether these transformations are consistent with your company’s mission, vision, and objectives. If they are not, you must determine how to close these gaps to align your company’s growth with your long-term goals. It is critical to assess how your hiring practices will change to accommodate these corporate-wide changes.

3. Prepare the ground for action

The right environment can distinguish between a successful and unsuccessful strategic workforce planning exercise. To foster an environment conducive to learning, you’ll need to pool multiple resources, including data, technology, and external expertise. Any successful strategic workforce planning exercise must start with data. However, it can be extremely overwhelming if data is not filtered appropriately. It would help if you encouraged department heads, project managers, and line managers to document everything on their teams. Updating employee information in a centralized database can help ensure your workforce planning team access to critical information. Also, data is useless if the appropriate technology is not in place to convert it to usable metrics. Predictive analytics technology can assist with this. This technology uses artificial intelligence to collect and process data on your current employment, hiring trends, and candidate/employee behaviors. The tools generate comprehensive reports on your current workforce, forecast changes in your staff profile, and forecast future hiring needs. Often, you lack the knowledge and experience necessary to plan for and hire for the future. Inviting external consultants to advise you on the next steps in such instances is acceptable. These individuals could be recruiters or specialists knowing the industry’s impending revolution. Additionally, political or sustainability consultants can advise you on the types of skills that candidates for leadership positions may need in a competitive market. Internal data, technology, and external advisory services can all work in tandem to assist you in developing a targeted and streamlined strategic workforce plan.

4. Improve internal communication within the company

Without the buy-in and collaboration of other teams/departments, no strategic workforce planning can occur. All stakeholders must have an open, friendly, and transparent line of communication and input. Communication and collaboration can be facilitated with technology. For example, the human resources department can distribute opinion surveys to other managers and company leaders to ascertain their strategic hiring needs. These surveys are also an excellent way to assess each department’s diversity and skill inventory and uncover current gaps. Webinars/online discussions with managers and C-suite executives can be held to discuss workforce planning initiatives. A shared recruiting application tracking system dashboard can be used by departments to monitor the workforce planning and hiring process, assessing applicants collaboratively and hiring prospects who will genuinely benefit the firm in the long run. Intra-company messaging platforms can communicate hiring updates and solicit instant feedback from participating teams.

5. Form a workforce planning team to guide your hiring initiatives.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, establish the appropriate workforce planning team when doing a strategic personnel planning exercise. After all, if your workforce planning team lacks focus and cannot grasp the company’s mission, the entire strategic workforce planning exercise will fail. Top management buy-in is critical for the strategic workforce planning process to succeed. As a result, you must have a firm leader – CEO, board member, vice president, etc. – overseeing the project. Once a champion for the workout emerges, others will follow suit. Following that, senior individuals from those functional teams that the incoming staff will immediately impact must be included. Together, these individuals will be able to direct the team’s activities and plan for a cost-effective and successful strategic workforce hire.

How To Have a Successful Workforce Planning

In a continuously changing business climate, you must be astute about who you hire and how they can assist you in achieving your business goals. This entails giving attention and analysis to your workforce’s (future) skills: the employees you already have, the ones that require additional development, and the ones you still need to hire since they will be needed soon. That is the role of strategic workforce planning. This part will examine the benefits of strategic workforce planning in further detail and provide you with a seven-step strategy for success.

1. Consider the organization’s long-term objectives.

We talked about “strategic workforce planning at the beginning of this article.” This is about making sure your people can help your company reach its goals. The company’s short- and long-term direction What does it want to do, and what does it need to do this? Getting everyone on board with strategic workforce planning before starting is essential to move things quickly. You’ll need to get the support of HR and finance, operations management, line managers, and the CEO.

2. Analyze your current staff.

What does your current personnel look like? What individuals and capabilities does your organization already have? The first step in strategic workforce planning is to assess your current staff. Talent analytics, more specifically workforce analytics, can be highly beneficial in this situation. It will provide information about your workforce’s age demographics, seniority profile, contract type, evolution, etc. When reviewing your current staff, there are two critical aspects: workforce quality and workforce quantity. The quality of your workforce is determined by how well you evaluate your employees’ current performance and future potential. Who are your highest achievers? Are they considered to have a high or poor potential? They will have varying (development) requirements depending on the response. Talent analytics can also be beneficial in this situation since it can assist you in determining the primary drivers of performance in your firm. As the definition implies, workforce quantity refers to analyzing the size of your staff, including recruits, employee churn, and internal promotions.

3. Determine potential skill shortages

After mapping out your current staff, you may plan, including their talents and requirements. At the very least, in terms of possible skill gaps. If you do a skills gap analysis, you will learn when certain employees will retire and may begin planning how to address the gaps they will leave behind. Do you intend to hire freelancers and transition to a more project-based work environment? Or are you more interested in training current employees? Another factor to consider is the globalization of the digital world and technological advancements. As numerous research studies have proven, this will result in a (digital) skills gap that must be bridged.

4. Prepare for a variety of scenarios

So, of course, the future isn’t set in stone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for different things. Take, for example, a cashier at a grocery store. As more people shop at supermarkets, self-checkout machines are becoming more common. These machines let customers scan and pay for their goods. If your company’s financial situation suddenly changes for the worse, or if the world’s economy goes down, this also comes up. However, it is not likely that every job affected means that the person who has that job will lose their job. Instead, HR and strategic workforce planning should start planning now and develop a mix of attrition, retirement letters, and up-and re-skilling to avoid big rounds of lay-offs in the future. This way, they can avoid having to cut a lot of people.

5. Do not be afraid to seek external advice.

Strategic workforce planning is a challenging endeavor that should not be handled lightly. When creating a great plan, there are numerous variables to consider, so you should not be afraid to seek assistance. Engage a consultant or an expert in strategic workforce planning to assist you along the process. They will guide you in getting started and keeping your planning current.

6. Bear in mind your company’s culture.

Yes, the talents required to accomplish your organization’s business objectives may vary. And technology will influence the future talents for which you hire. However, it would benefit if you do not overlook your corporate culture while developing your strategic personnel. Just as the people and talents you need are continually growing, so is your organizational culture. Consider how you want to steer this cultural evolution and what basic principles you want to keep throughout time as you plan.

7. Monitor and adapt

Your work is far from over once you’ve developed a strategic workforce strategy and implemented it. Indeed, it is the polar opposite. As we’ve previously stated, the business climate of the twenty-first century is continually changing; technology, labor, and customers are all evolving. Thus, to have a responsive workforce, you must also have an adaptable workforce planning process. And to determine what needs to be adjusted, you must monitor your process – which requires the use of analytics. Then you may adjust your strategic workforce plan appropriately and remain current with business transformation.


Which three levels of workforce planning are there?

These phases are also referred to as the pre-hiring, training, and post-hiring phases.

Which component of workforce planning is the most critical?

Determine appropriate tactics for concentrated human development. The fundamental basis of workforce planning is that businesses evolve, and as businesses evolve, individuals must evolve as well. Identifying skill shortages and developing strategies to close them is a critical workforce planning function.

What is excellent practice in human resources?

Human resource best practices are a collection of methods and techniques that have been demonstrated through research and experience to improve business performance. They are internal policies that a firm sets to streamline procedures and achieve optimal results across all business segments.

It’s always essential to have a strategy in place. Especially if you are a large organization that hires for hundreds of positions each year, you must think strategically about how to maximize your workforce’s productivity at each given moment. A good workforce plan will assist you in optimizing weekly expenses, preparing for demographic changes, developing a long-term recruitment strategy, and ultimately improving your bottom line.