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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

What is Workforce Planning?

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:

  • Talent availability
  • Business growth
  • Age of the existing workforce
  • Current knowledge/skill gaps
  • And much more

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:

  • Structural organization
  • Employee redeployment
  • Succession planning
  • Staffing budgets
  • Maintaining capacity
  • Reducing risk

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?

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Primary Workforce Planning Criteria

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

  • Employee numbers : getting the correct workforce size so the business is not overstaffed and inefficient but not too small to hinder growth and fail to match demand.
  • Skillset : having the right mix of skills, capabilities, knowledge, and experience to perform effectively and achieve your goals.
  • Budget : finding the optimal staffing expenditure to achieve a high return on investment from employees and maximize profits.
  • Flexibility : developing your workforce to be agile and adapt quickly when changes in the market occur.

The Goal of Workforce Planning

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:

  • Identifying understaffed departments and potential bottlenecks
  • Staffing requirement to scale operations
  • Excess employees for redeployment or termination

How Workforce Planning affects HR Processes

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.

The Benefits of Workforce Planning

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.

Read: Skills gap and skills gap analysis

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:

  • 62% of employees would be “significantly more engaged” if they had a succession plan at their company.
  • 94% of employers said having succession plans in place positively impacted employee engagement .

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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:

  • Increase your productivity and workforce ROI
  • Retain talent and reduce costs associated with employee turnover
  • Develop a flexible workforce that can meet customer demand in different circumstances

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 .

The 5 Core Workforce Planning Steps

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.

  • What direction do you see your business going in?
  • What are you hoping to achieve through workforce planning?
  • What are the primary goals/milestones you are targeting?
  • Why does your business need new workforce planning structures?

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:

  • Demand Planning – Determining the number of employees needed for each role required to reach your goal. Demand planning requires accurate business forecasts to determine your workforce’s future number, structure, and composition.
  • Internal Supply – Internal supply planning needs accurate talent evaluations, an understanding of the expected employee turnover rate (retirements, resignations, etc.), and the design of training and professional development programs.
  • Gap Analysis – Identifying the gaps in your workforce and making plans to close them through recruitment, redeployment, and training.

These strategies help to answer the following questions:

  • Do you have the right-sized workforce?
  • What skills, knowledge, and experience do your current employees have?
  • Do your employees need additional training?
  • What new resources can improve workforce performance?
  • Is your workforce correctly structured? (This includes organizational design, departments, communication channels, etc.)
  • What is your current employee turnover rate?

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 2023 figures and 2024’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 2024 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 2023. 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:

  • HR personnel to clearly understand their new roles and responsibilities.
  • Strategies and processes for recording all relevant data and information.
  • Effective communication channels between all invested parties to support the plan.
  • Defined measurement and evaluation criteria to assess the plan’s success.

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

  • Recruitment
  • Redeployment
  • Outsourcing
  • Deploying new technology

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.

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steps of strategic workforce planning

Ivan Andreev

Demand Generation & Capture Strategist

Ivan is a dedicated and versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in online marketing and a proven track record of turning challenges into opportunities. Ivan works diligently to improve internal processes and explore new possibilities for the company.

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Workforce planning definition - what is workforce planning?

The workforce planning process can help answer some of your business’s most pressing questions: Who do you need to employ? Who do you have on hand? How do you keep your top talent around? In this article, we answer each, while providing an actionable guide to strategic workforce planning success.

  • 1 What is Workforce Planning?
  • 2 What Is Strategic Workforce Planning?
  • 3 Why Is Workforce Planning Important?
  • 4 Who Is In Charge Of Workforce Planning?
  • 5 Do You Need Workforce Planning Tools?
  • 6 The Six Steps Of The Workforce Planning Process
  • 7 How Does Workforce Planning Benefit Employees?
  • 8 Start Strategic Workforce Planning With HR Software

What is Workforce Planning?

Workforce planning is the strategic evaluation and management of an organisation's present and future talent requirements. It involves analysing, forecasting and planning workforce supply and demand. The goal is to ensure that organisations have the right people with the right skills in the right places at the right time to drive success.

What is the Purpose of Workforce Planning?

The purpose of workforce planning  is to find out where you have the right people in the right roles. It’s ensuring you have the right number of people, who have the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience to help your organisation reach its goals. These often will include both your short and long-term goals.

What is an Example of Workforce Planning?

Here's an example of workforce planning: Let’s say that your business has ambitions to expand internationally, but your sales staff is centred in one country, in one language and attuned to the needs of one target group. Your workforce p

lanning efforts would involve finding out:

The number of new sales staff you need

The number of languages you want to cover

If those sales staff should be based in other countries

If members of that staff should have certain regional skills or knowledge

A common workforce plan  will often include a brief analysis or summary of your current workforce, your future needs, and how you plan to bridge the gap in between. This might include hiring plans,  learning and development opportunities , or identifying key hires that are not necessarily related to scaling your business (like a new leader or content specialist).

What Is Strategic Workforce Planning?

Strategic workforce planning  is designed to meet scenarios three-to-five years in the future. Therefore, it must be aligned with business needs and objectives. It also requires the knowledge and time to prepare a plan that looks at future business strategy and includes scenario planning.

What Is The Workforce Planning Process?

The workforce planning process encompasses:

Workforce planning might come across as a vague term. Especially when it comes to overall business strategy. But. it has a very straightforward purpose and reasoning behind it.

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Why Is Workforce Planning Important?

In today’s talent-based economy, the key element that keeps successful companies running is people.

But, as  the SHRM  states: “Despite its importance, this asset is often not carefully planned, measured, or optimised. This means that many organisations are not sufficiently aware of the current or future workforce gaps that will limit the execution of business strategy.”

As anyone who has ever experienced staff shortages will know, not having the right talent in place can cause enormous strain on a business. The professional services and HR consulting firm,  Mercer , explains it well: “A weak pipeline or hidden talent issues can shake your organisation’s very foundation before anyone has realised there might be a problem.”

However, if organisations are able to look ahead and plan what roles, skills, and people will be needed to meet their business goals now, and in the future, they are more likely to thrive.

Of course, this is often easier said than done. It involves a systematic, rigorous, and disciplined process combined with a:

Future-forward view of the world

Solid grasp of business strategy

Deep understanding of human talents and capabilities

Strategic, time-conscious, and thoughtful process

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Who Is In Charge Of Workforce Planning?

The short answer: a lot of people! In some organisations, there are a multitude of stakeholders in charge of the workforce planning process (HR, sales leaders, even the CEO). In some, it’s simply a mystery left to the C-suite. But, should it be that way? The responsibilities of workforce planning may reveal to us who truly should be in charge of steering the conversation.

After all, HR teams are the ones doing the majority of the sourcing, vetting, recruiting, and hiring. Being accountable to results like those means having a place at the table. This is most often where  strategic human resource management  comes into the equation as a tool to enable HR teams to lead conversations on greater workforce planning.

All of this is to say that the responsibilities of workforce planning will vary by organisation. It really depends on the role an HR team has, and whether or not they have been able to reserve their own spot at the table of management.

Do You Need Workforce Planning Tools?

Workforce planning tools can help offset some of the uncertainty surrounding workforce planning. That’s because it is an attempt to bridge the gap between where your workforce currently stands, and where it can go.

Check out our article about the top five workforce planning tools you can try today.

The Six Steps Of The Workforce Planning Process

The workforce planning process can be categorised into six key steps. As an organisation, it helps to sit down and define answers to each of these to try and bring meaning to each.

And, as mentioned before, while HR may drive the conversation, it is imperative that many key stakeholders find themselves a seat at the table. They all should be able to weigh in, in order to align your ‘people plan’ with your business plan.

Check out our guide to aligning your HR’s goals with the company’s goals today.

the strategic workforce planning process

1. What Is The Plan?

Where is your business going? Where do you want it to go? What are the current goals of top-level management? Workforce planning needs to start from the top down, and it needs to be set out by some kind of vision or overall goal to work toward. Whether that is doubling headcount or increasing the amount of leaders.

How do you formulate a proper HR strategy, overall? Here’s our guide to the process.

2. Who Do We Have Now?

The next step is to analyse the talent you have on hand. Who do you currently have working for you? What skills or training do they have? What seniority levels do you have a lot of? Take into account everything you currently have, ideally in the form of data and over a period of time to see how you’ve grown to this point.

3. What Do We Do Next?

Think about the space in between your current inventory of talent and your ultimate goal. So, what do you need next? Do you need more people? Different kinds of skills? More leaders? This will begin to inform you in terms of what you should do and what concrete measures you may need to implement.

4. Talent Gaps

Let’s dig a bit deeper. If we think about what we need to do next, first we need to think about what’s missing. What are the most pressing talent gaps in your organisation? Which ones would help you reach your goal sooner? For instance, would hiring the perfect high-level executive help to recruit even more mid-level talent? Which gaps, when solved, turn into their own amazing opportunities for growth?

5. Fixes & Initiatives

To address those gaps, what will you do? Will you focus on campus recruiting, formulating a more compelling remuneration package or rewards for top talent? What kind of fixes will help address those gaps, help you take the next in your workforce plan, ultimately to achieve your goal.

6. Measure Results

Did your fixes work? How much closer are you to your goal? Here, analytics and reporting are absolutely essential, as they can track your progress over time against your goal. And, in a click or two, you should be able to have a report that you can use and bring to executive management.

Here’s how to create reports in an instant with Personio.

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How Does Workforce Planning Benefit Employees?

Mercer puts it this way in their  Global Talent Trends Report 2020:  “It can’t just be about employee capacity and business unit alignment, [workforce planning] must recognise employees’ potential and engagement and be intertwined with the company’s technology roadmap.”

Sadly, the same report which gathered insights from 7,000+ people from nine industries and 16 regions says that two in five HR leaders say they don’t know what skills they have in their workforce today!

That means that successful workforce planning requires a combination of:

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Start your workforce planning journey on the right foot with an HR software like Personio. Unlock the power of employee data management, enhanced reporting, and improved decision making. Upgrade your people operations for now and into the future by starting a free trial with Personio today .

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What Is Strategic Workforce Planning? A Complete Guide

By definition, strategic workforce planning means creating a hiring process that will make sure the right candidates are brought on throughout every step of your organization’s growth. Business leaders aim to develop a process that will proactively identify future hiring needs while filling current ones.

Human resources and business managers collaborate to determine a business’s long-term goals. They then develop a business strategy to make sure the current and future workforce are equipped to meet those goals. This means that thorough workforce plans can be a great help to growing businesses.

Let’s look at what makes a good strategic workforce plan and how your business can get started on theirs.

What is the purpose of strategic workforce planning?

Workforce plans are meant to set a team up to scale by making sure all internal needs will be addressed, and growth will be seamless. Companies do this by anticipating future hiring needs and working to make sure the right people will enter the company at the right time.

This also means identifying any skill gaps that currently exist within the workforce or may arise as the business grows. You can use workforce planning to make sure you meet your diversity initiatives as well as job postings.

4 components of strategic workforce planning

The main components of strategic workforce planning are:

  • The Right People : Hires will be beneficial to the company and work well with the company’s culture, values, and needs.
  • With the Right Skills : New hires will have the right work experience and skill set to do their job correctly.
  • Enter the Right Job : New hires or promotions will be placed in a job that correctly uses their skill set and furthers the company’s goals.
  • At the Right Time : Hires or promotions will be immediately able to produce work that furthers the company.

The best way to find the right people with the right skills at the right time is to hire across borders. Incorporating global hiring into your strategic workforce plan empowers you to find candidates who check every box while maximizing your hiring budget.

Learn how to easily hire talent across borders, quickly expand your business into new markets, and ensure compliance for global talent in our guide:

How to build a global workforce that takes your company farther - get the guide

Strategic workforce planning examples

A few examples of what strategic workforce planning might look like include:

  • Putting together a talent acquisition strategy
  • Leadership development training
  • Global expansion initiatives
  • Career path development
  • Workflow optimization and streamlining

How do you create a strategic workforce plan? 6 steps for success

How to create a successful strategic workforce plan

Each business is unique and has its own hiring needs and goals, so no workforce plan will look identical to another. However, there are a few guidelines that every business leader can follow when developing their own plan.

1. Analyze your current workforce 

The first step to workforce planning is assessing what you already have. Look at your current roster and identify strengths and weaknesses. Determine what is going well within your organization and how you can become even stronger.

There are three main workforce issues that should drive workforce planning: your strategic plan, outside factors changing your workforce, and maintenance of your current workforce.

  • Strategic plan: Figure out how your workforce is meeting or not meeting your current goals and the steps that need to be taken to get to a point you’re satisfied with.
  • Outside factors: Determine which outside factors — like new competition, diversity initiatives , adopting remote work , or other factors — are going to affect your workplace.
  • Workforce maintenance: Decide how to strengthen your workforce with better training, new focus on employee wellbeing, or initiatives to boost employee engagement before you start looking to grow.

Tip: Internal surveys can help you gauge your employees’ satisfaction while you work to pinpoint issues affecting your organization.

2. Set long-term goals for your organization  

Setting direct, actionable goals can help you figure out how and who to hire as you work toward them. Your goals should focus on your most crucial business needs and help set a trajectory for the way your business will grow.

Most businesses follow a S.M.A.R.T. framework for goal-setting. That means the goals will be:

  • Specific: Each goal should home in on one aspect of your business to make the goal direct and meaningful.
  • Measureable: Tie a tangible way of measuring success to each goal so you can prove you’re making progress.
  • Attainable: Shooting for the moon isn’t always the best option — your goals should be within scope for your organization within the designated time frame.
  • Relevant: Goals should align with your company’s business model, needs, and objectives to make sure you’re staying on track.
  • Time-Sensitive: Goals should be set within a specific time frame so you can keep moving forward and setting new goals.

Tip: Setting long- and short-term goals can help keep morale up by creating more opportunities to celebrate company wins.

3. Anticipate roadblocks or future needs 

The key to an effective workforce plan is doing a little guesswork to anticipate future needs or potential roadblocks. By planning for these in advance, you can be ready to meet them head on.

Consider where you are now vs. where you want to be. How many staff members are currently needed to execute a project or meet a deadline? And if your business grows at the rate you’re anticipating, how many will you need in six months? If the projected number is larger than the current, you need to make sure you’ll have the staff on hand to meet deadlines.

Tip: You can also gauge your current roster’s bandwidth and burnout levels to determine how many new staff members will keep the team productive while prioritizing their well-being.

4. Fill in the gaps 

Once you know where you are, where you want to be, and any obstacles that might stand in the way of getting there, you can start to fill in the gaps and finalize your workforce plan.

Identifying these gaps can help you fill roles with people who will help support your growth. It can also help you determine whether the needs can be filled with a greater number of employees filling your current roles or if you’ll need to develop new roles altogether.

For example, if you’ve been working as the boss with all of your employees as your direct reports, you may need to hire managers to act as middlemen so you can focus on other tasks and let them handle project management.

Tip: Once you start feeling like you’re never logged off, you should consider promoting employees to management positions.

5. Seek help from experts 

Developing a relevant, efficient, and actionable workforce plan may not come naturally to some business leaders. Third-party agencies that specialize in workforce optimization can help you nail down your business plan as you scale.

Consulting an agency to help identify your workforce needs and assist in hiring for those needs can help you make sure you’re not only preparing yourself for the future but also setting yourself up for a successful one.

Tip: For those growing globally, a third party is even more important. Globalization partners can make sure you stay compliant with labor laws while selecting the right candidates for your growth.

6. Implement and adapt as needed

Just like an adaptable workforce is important, so is an adaptable workforce plan. Your plan might give you a solid trajectory for your growth, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need to make adjustments as you scale.

More than likely, you’ll be confronted with situations and needs you didn’t foresee. And while your plan will be able to tackle the bulk of these needs, some may arise that weren’t accounted for. In these scenarios, you may need to revisit and restructure your hiring plan.

Tip: Keeping track of your goals and growth within those goals can help you pinpoint when you’re getting off track as early as possible.

What are the advantages of workforce planning?

An effective workforce planning strategy can help make a good workforce great.

Addressing current workforce gaps 

A workforce gap is a mismatch between what skills you’re going to need from your workforce as you scale and what skills your employees possess.

Looking toward the future can help you pinpoint any skill gaps in your current roster. This can not only keep your organization on track to grow, but it can also make sure your current roster isn’t going to become overloaded when expansion does start to happen.

Keeping goals met

New business leads, deadlines, and deals can feel like a snowball rolling down a hill for a growing business. And if you’re not careful, you could get buried. Workforce planning makes sure that the new employees will continue to be onboarded as the company grows and more needs arise. This makes sure business goals will continue being met, and the business can keep growing smoothly.

Preparing for the future

Workforce planning allows HR professionals and business leaders to create a long-term strategy that will see the company through years of growth. Once the strategy is in place, business leaders can then get back to focusing on their day-to-day tasks, knowing that the organization is ready to grow when the time comes.

It’s best to plan ahead

Preparation is key, especially when looking to grow a business or go global. When taking your business overseas, you’ll need to not only have a firm workforce plan intact but also make sure you’re hiring the best candidates and staying compliant with labor regulations in your new locale.

Contact Velocity Global  to learn how we can help you confidently and compliantly hire talent in 185+ countries.

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steps of strategic workforce planning

4 Steps For Successful Workforce Planning

  • By Daniel Brits
  • Workforce Management

workforce planning

Table of Contents

For many businesses, especially those within the cleaning services industry, human capital management and efficiency are key to business success, turnover rate, and long-term profitability. Ensuring that this is managed efficiently is often more complex than it seems, especially within the context of this digital age. A key to solving these complexities is effective workforce planning, which we examine in more detail below.

workforce planning

Workforce planning overview

Before we unpack what effective workforce planning business strategies look like, it is important to understand what workforce planning is. Workforce planning is a process that aims to balance labour supply and skills with demand and the number of staff needed to meet that demand. 

Strategic  workforce planning  examines the current workforce, customer needs, future workforce needs and aims to identify any gaps between these different elements. Simply put, this process ensures that you have the correct number of people with the right skills employed at the right time, at the correct cost and on the right contract or project to achieve business growth and suitability. There are three primary strategic workforce planning principles that need to be followed, these include:

  • Ensure that workforce planning is aligned to your business’s current and future needs, objectives, and strategies. 
  • Make sure you are examining both long-term and short-term goals and opportunities.
  • Focus on the roles required to ensure your business can function optimally. 

When these three principles are followed, the  workforce planning process  will provide you with the insight necessary to make informed business decisions about employing staff and what you need in terms of your workforce to meet your business goals.

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workforce planning benefits

If correctly implemented, the workforce planning benefits will include:

  • Alignment of your strategic planning with staff numbers and talent planning.
  • Enhanced visibility over talent demand and supply issues across various areas that affect your business – overtime, added expenses, problem locations and more.
  • Access to insight related to your talent decisions, if they are working efficiently and if changes need to be made in the future. 
  • Enabling you to make informed decisions based on accurate data relating to elements and trends that may pose a risk or impact your business. 
  • Enhancing the control over unplanned talent costs and employee productivity.
  • Providing you with a competitive advantage in the market through proactive talent management, which also improves customer experience.

workforce planning steps

4 Workforce planning steps

From the above, it is clear that workforce planning is essential for many organisations. For this planning process to be successful, four steps need to be followed. These 4 steps include:

Step 1: The supply analysis: 

This is often referred to as a supply model or staffing assessment. This step requires an analysis of the business’s labour supply. This includes the number of staff, their skills levels, positions, and more to determine how well the existing workforce supports your current business strategy.

Step 2: The demand analysis: 

This analysis is often called the demand model and focuses on examining future business plans and objectives. This stage looks at the number of staff needed to complete the work at hand and any changes that could affect your workload and business in the future. 

Step 3: The gap analysis: 

During this stage, the supply and demand analyses are compared to identify skills surpluses and deficiencies.  This stage is often combined with an action planning phase where you evaluate these gaps and create a plan to address them. 

Step 4: The solution analysis:  

This stage allows you to plan and implement activities to close the identified workforce gaps that might negatively impact your business and objectives. This stage often involves developing planning capabilities as well as utilising data and metrics to identify risks and opportunities associated with your workforce needs. Many businesses at this stage will look into recruiting, training or retraining, contingent staffing and hiring part-time employees.

workforce planning digital transformation

The impact of digital transformation on workforce planning 

Workforce planning is essential to business performance and profitability, but several challenges and complexities are associated with this process. Traditionally, keeping track of these elements related to your workforce and contracts were recorded manually using spreadsheets. This took up a lot of time and finding the information needed wasn’t straightforward, especially for larger businesses. Digital transformation and innovative technology has transformed this planning process and made it more accessible and efficient to track and manage. 

This technology allows you to easily keep track of data related to your employees, contracts, and historical data, and will enable you to pull this up in real-time. It also often allows for reporting and analytics. This strategic direction provides valuable and actionable insights to improve efficiency, employee retention, flexibility and productivity related to workforce planning. 

This sounds like the perfect solution to efficient workforce planning, but you need to remember that not all technology is created equal. This is why it is important for you to do your research and find a workforce planning software solution that speaks to your unique business objectives and understands your industry, its needs, and challenges. 

workforce planning solution

For the cleaning services industry in particular, you want to look for a workforce planning solution that allows for: 

  • Contract and personnel management  – capture and manage all vital information related to your customer contracts and your employees all in one place, efficiently and effectively. 
  • Automation  – automate rostering to increase productivity and the efficiency of the rostering process to save time and resources.
  • Time and attendance per location  – provide insight into employee productivity by capturing the actual attendance details per job location. 
  • Forecasting  – forecast wage costs including overtime, non-productive time, allowances etc. per cleaner and per site, based on the roster. Utilise these reports to keep day-to-day control of operations to ensure that costs are kept to a minimum, and cleaner requirements are precisely met.
  • Reporting  – utilise information gained from indepth reports and workforce analytics to make informed business decisions regarding employees, contracts, issues, problems or opportunities related to workforce planning. 
  • Customisation  – not all businesses are the same, which means that you want to be able to customise the solution to fit your unique business needs and requirements. 


One solution that ticks all of the workforce strategy boxes and offers you a way to ensure maximum labour efficiency and effective workforce planning is Adapt IT Telecom’s EasyRoster.

This solution is based on over 25 years of industry knowledge and has been specially developed to answer to the changing needs of a cleaning services business. For more on the EasyRoster Workforce Management Software and how it can change how you manage your workforce planning process, book a demo today.

Daniel Brits

As a Senior Product Manager at Adapt IT, I lead the division responsible for one of our flagship products, EasyRoster. Our primary focus is to empower organisations with top-tier Workforce Management Software, enabling them to optimise operational efficiency and streamline processes.

With over 12 years of experience in the industry, I have collaborated with clients across 25+ countries, delivering training sessions and offering labor efficiency consultations to diverse groups of professionals.

In my capacity as Senior Product Manager, I oversee a multidisciplinary team that together, strive to create innovative solutions and maintain our commitment to excellence in the realm of workforce management.

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Workforce Planning

Workforce Planning is the process of analyzing, forecasting, and planning workforce supply and demand, assessing gaps, and determining target 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 fulfill its mandate and strategic objectives.

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Enter the Toolkit and learn how to get started with your Workforce Planning Activities.

Explore the 6 Stages of Workforce Planning

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1. Strategic Direction

2. supply analysis, 3. demand analysis, 4. gap analysis, 5. solution implementation, 6. monitoring progress.

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Strategic Workforce Planning

Translate business strategy into workforce strategy, strategic workforce planning insights.

Today’s environment of rapid change and uncertainty increases pressure on HR to ensure the organization has the required talent to support changing business priorities. Strategic workforce planning sets HR up to identify talent needs associated with the organization’s future goals and establish a strategy to ensure the organization has the right mix of talent, technologies and employment models to reach these goals.

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Strategic workforce planning begins with business strategy

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. Tip: Business leaders are under tremendous pressure to hit short-term targets and focus on immediate staffing needs. HR leaders should leverage data to illustrate how strategic workforce planning can mitigate those pressures and set leaders up for future success.

67% of users surveyed rate their organization's HR function as not effective at using data in workforce planning, while 33% rate their organization's HR function as effective.

Insights You Can Use

Gartner offers insights, advice and tools, like Gartner TalentNeuron, that help HR practice effective workforce planning, thinking ahead to address tomorrow's talent and business needs today.

steps of strategic workforce planning

Sources of Workforce Planning Intelligence

To develop a successful workforce planning strategy, organizations must gather intelligence to understand business strategy, identify talent risks associated with successfully executing that strategy and develop a plan to address those risks. In this Gartner research, we detail 13 internal and external labor market sources HR can leverage during the workforce planning process.

steps of strategic workforce planning

Build a Business Case for Workforce Planning

Based on extensive research on strategic workforce planning, this Gartner presentation template is designed to help HR leaders build a business case for workforce planning. The template includes guidance on building a proposal, explaining the importance of workforce planning and how to address potential challenges.

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How to Leverage Data for More Influential Workforce Planning

Effectively use data in workforce planning to ensure business leaders consider talent implications when making strategic business decisions. Data will help identify future needs and communicate the top talent risks to executing business objectives.

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Reengineer Workforce Planning for Transformation and Cost Savings

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The Unbounded Workforce: Decode the Future of Business

This complimentary webinar spotlights how trends like remote work, increased reliance on a contingent workforce, and the decoupling of critical skills and critical roles bring new challenges and opportunities to the forefront for human resource leaders.

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3 Workforce Planning Imperatives That Drive Business Outcomes

Understand the top challenges HR leaders face while workforce planning at their organizations, the implications of those challenges and how insight into the external talent market allows the HR team to best address each challenge.

Strategic Workforce Planning Case Studies

How does gartner support your future workforce strategy.

Ram Vadivelu, Senior Director, Talent and Workforce Analysis, Qualcomm, shares how Gartner TalentNeuron helped his team accurately identify emerging skills to solidify their talent strategy and how they rely on TalentNeuron's robust analytics and tools to support strategic planning and drive decisions.

Gartner TalentNeuron helps with both strategic and operational workforce planning. TalentNeuron figured out a way to synthesize over 60,000 data points that you can pull, leverage and then present to your senior leadership.

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Join your peer CHROs and HR leaders from leading organizations to discuss specific HR challenges and learn about top HR trends, insights and priorities.

steps of strategic workforce planning

Workforce planning questions Gartner can help answer

What is workforce planning.

In strategic workforce planning, HR evaluates workforce supply and demand, assesses skill gaps and determines what talent management initiatives are required for the workforce to drive business objectives now and into the future. 

To successfully implement a future-proof workforce planning model, HR leaders need to gather the right information to inform them of the existing skills gaps in the organization and identify pathways to filling those gaps as the business grows and develops. 

The workforce planning model is the roadmap of where HR’s hiring practices are currently and where they need to be to develop and acquire the strategic skills needed for the future.

Why do you need strategic workforce planning?

Organizations rely on workforce planning to map existing and future talent needs. Without strategically analyzing the skills gaps within the business, and projecting what skills will be required as the business evolves, the organization will lack the critical talent and knowledge needed to deliver on strategic goals.

What is the role of HR in workforce planning?

HR needs to drive the future-proofing of the workforce. If HR fails to fill skills gaps strategically, the workforce will continue to lack the necessary talent to develop and deliver on business strategy. 

Additionally, HR needs to educate and influence business leaders on the importance of upskilling employees and developing leaders to thrive in the digital workplace.

What are the key focuses of a workforce plan?

Keys to executing a successful workforce plan include:

  • Develop productive partnerships with business leaders and educate yourself about the future of the business. 
  • Integrate workforce planning into business planning so it isn’t a stand-alone process and can’t be easily dismissed by business leaders.
  • How key roles are evolving in the industry
  • How talent is flowing in and out of key competitors
  • How specific trends are affected by location 
  • How available diverse talent is in the labor market
  • Build HR’s ability to use and interpret talent data: Leveraging data isn’t only important for identifying talent; it can help determine the best strategy to close talent gaps. Data can drive your decision to build, buy, retain, outsource or automate. To improve HR’s ability to understand future organizational talent needs and the external labor environment, data skills are vital. 

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