What is workforce planning?

Workforce planning is the process of building a robust organization through attracting, hiring, and training suitable candidates within each department. Businesses use workforce planning to avoid under or overstaffing and to support hiring employees with appropriate levels of knowledge, skills, and experience.

Incorporating a workforce planning strategy enables companies to carefully respond to emerging economic or technological trends disrupting the workplace. Just as individuals meal plan to avoid routine consuming fast food and support optimal health, companies “workforce plan” to maintain a healthy and functioning staff and successful organization.  

Why should HR leaders care about workforce planning?

Organizations can readily adapt to their labor needs through workforce planning. Perhaps a rapidly developing company is growing its client base and needs a competent workforce to continue delivering high-quality work at a faster pace. Hurriedly hiring mediocre staff for the sake of filling a vacancy can result in unnecessarily high expenses and decreased productivity and morale. Alternatively, effective workforce planning can reduce extraneous spending, eliminate inefficient hiring practices, and enable accurate predictions of future job developments. 

Workforce planning impacts every department within an organization and can support:

What can HR leaders do to create an effective workforce planning program?

HR leaders are responsible for enlisting executives, department leaders, and HR colleagues to collaborate in a workforce planning team. The team can aim to simplify the workforce planning process through these practices: 

  • Develop a strategy. Drafting and adhering to a central document that outlines the workforce planning timeline, methodology, and objectives can help leaders maintain direction througstatus quocriticalrocess.   
  • Include succession planning. Integrating succession planning into the workforce planning process assists HR professionals in filling vacancies as they emerge. Building a collection of talented employees ready to assume new roles is an essential component of effective workforce planning. 
  • Evaluate the status-quo. Teams can identify issues such as poor communication, low morale, or lack of employee development opportunities. Meeting with representatives from separate tiers can paint a holistic picture of the present and future job evolution. Conducting talent gap analyses can also provide HR leaders with relevant data to make informed decisions to anticipate emerging workforce needs. 
  • Integrate routine check-ins. An operative workforce planning system must be agile; HR leaders and their teams should frequently re-evaluate to see which areas need adjustments. Consistently gleaning relevant information from managers and department leaders can help ensure that the current workforce planning practices align with company objectives.   
  • Evaluate workforce planning effectiveness. Incorporating these key workforce planning metrics can help HR leaders assess their practices and navigate their workforce planning towards low turnover and high retention and engagement. 

How can a well-designed workforce planning improve company culture?

Developing a beneficial workforce planning system is the foundation of effective recruiting and hiring. Strategically selecting and hiring individuals enables organizations to build a workforce of engaged employees to enthusiastically contribute to a pleasant, positive, and attractive company culture.