five steps of workforce planning

Workforce planning is a structured process that should involve all key players, including HR, finance, line leaders and supervisors and executives. This high level of collaboration can improve overall results and ensure that these results align with company goals. Below is a look at the five steps every effective workforce planning strategy should follow.

1.  align workforce planning with business objectives

The first step of the workforce planning process is to set your company’s overall goals and objectives. It’s important for the entire planning team to meet and discuss the short and long-term goals of the company and to set the direction for the plan. Consider factors, such as where does the company want to grow in the upcoming years, what new products are being launched and what is the company’s overall vision for the future.

Without the right alignment, you will have a difficult time developing a workforce planning strategy that drives the results your company requires to secure the skills and competencies needed for the future.

2.  conduct a workforce analysis

The next step is to conduct a comprehensive workforce analysis. This process requires your team to assess the current skills and competencies within the workplace as well as predict the future needs of the company. You can determine current skills by evaluating job descriptions, meeting with workers and managers, and by assessing  the various tasks within your workplace. Tracking emerging industry trends and standards as well as conducting competitor research can help your company get a better understanding of the future needs of the company.

Once this analysis is complete, it’s important to compare your current talent attributes, such as skills, size of the workforce and workplace structure, with the projected future needs of the company. This comparison will enable your team to identify potential gaps between your current talent attributes and the company’s future needs.

For example, your workforce analysis may reveal that your company significantly lacks the tech skills required for the future. On the other hand, it may also show that due to increased automation, your overall workforce may be reduced by 10% over the next five years.

3.  develop an action plan

Once you have completed a comprehensive workforce analysis and identified any looming skills gaps or anticipated shifts in the workforce, your team can begin to devise an action plan. This plan should address as many of the needs revealed in the workforce analysis as possible. For example, your workforce planning strategy could include:

  • upskilling or retraining
  • career development
  • success planning
  • recruitment
  • outsourcing
  • company restructuring

This is just a sampling of some of the strategies that may need to be included in your company’s action plan. It’s important, however, to realise that each organisation must develop a customised action plan that addresses the unique needs of the company.

4.  implement an action plan

Implementing your action plan is likely to be the most difficult step of the workforce planning process. It requires  a strong commitment from your operational managers  as they are the ones often tasked with implementing the plan.  On the other hand, a buy-in from the executive team is necessary to secure the resources, such as the technology needed to develop an effective plan.

Communication is another key element of implementing the plan. For example, depending on the outcome of your workforce analysis you might need to communicate to employees about career transitions and your recruiters should know exactly what type of candidates the company wants.  

5.  monitor, assess and adjust

Workforce planning is not a one-time process, but rather an ongoing practice that must be monitored, assessed and adjusted as needed. Milestones and set measurements should have been developed during the first step of the process. You can now use various metrics to measure the success of your workforce planning strategy or to adjust the current plan to better meet the company’s talent needs.

Periodically, your team will also need to revisit each of these steps to ensure your workforce planning strategy is up-to-date and able to meet any emerging talent demands, including new skill sets.


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