Workforce planning

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Workforce planning is a continual process used to align the needs and priorities of the organization with those of its workforce to ensure it can meet its legislative, regulatory, service and production requirements and organizational objectives. Workforce planning enables evidence based workforce development strategies.[1]


Workforce planning is an outcome of a tight partnership between human resource management and the finance organization and it is related to the systematic identification and analysis of what an organization is going to need in terms of the size, type, experience, knowledge, and skills of its workforce to achieve its objectives. It is a process used to generate business intelligence to inform the organization of the current, transition and future impact of the external and internal environment on the organization; as well as a key input into the budgeting process.

Strategic workforce planning: usually covers a three to five year forecast period, aligned to business needs and outcomes. It focuses on identifying the workforce implications, current, transition and future of business strategic objects and includes scenario planning.

Operational workforce planning: usually covers the next 12–18 months and should align with the time-frame of the business planning cycle. It is the process and systems applied to gathering, analyzing and reporting on workforce planning strategy.[1]

Workforce analytics approach[edit]

An analytical approach is important as it provides a fact based method of understanding workforce behaviors. This analysis typically includes reviewing employee recruitment, promotion and turnover patterns. The analysis also uncovers the hidden causes of overtime, absenteeism, and low productivity.


Workforce plan can be classified in three ways:

  • Long term/Yearly Plan: It focuses on budgeting, financial planning, and investment planning
  • Medium Term/Monthly plan: Analysis of requirement like workload and headcount planning
  • Short Term/Weekly plan: It is on weekly or intra-day basis for material control, loading, and scheduling


There are fundamental activities that make up a workforce plan:

Getting Started
Establishing the team, building the business case; linking corporate, business, finance and workforce strategy; establishing communication plan to engage stakeholders; segmenting the workforce against strategic priorities; reviewing existing data; identifying information gaps; identifying future focused business scenarios.
Environment Scan
Environmental scanning is a form of business intelligence. In the context of workforce planning, it is used to identify the set of facts or circumstances that surround a workforce situation or event.
Current Workforce Profile
Current State is a profile of the demand and supply factors both internally and externally of the workforce the organization has today.
Transition Workforce Profile
demand and supply factors for the transition from current to future workforce.
Future Workforce View
Future View is determining the organization's needs considering the emerging trends and issues identified during the Environment Scanning.
Analysis and Targeted Future
Once critical elements are identified through quantitative and qualitative analysis, the future targets that are the best fit in terms of business strategy and is achievable given the surrounding factors (internal/external, supply/demand) are determined.
Risk Assessment and Risk Mitigation
The process is about determining appropriate actions to manage risk assessment and identify risk mitigation strategies to deliver the targeted future.
Action plan to embed strategic workforce planning into business planning process.
Monitor and measure impact of strategic workforce planning on business outcomes.


  1. ^ a b Sloan, Julie. The Workforce Planning Imperative JSM, 2010. ISBN 978-1-921037-37-5 (pbk.)