As you might have heard hundreds of times before, employees are the lifeblood of a company — which we fully agree with. However, there is an often unsung hero within most successful businesses: structure. In many instances, this comes as a workforce plan template that helps ensure the company always has the right people for current and future projects.

In this article, we’ll discuss how workforce plans work so you can develop one that effectively leverages your employees’ talents and streamlines your processes.

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The essentials of a workforce plan

A well-designed workforce plan is instrumental in unlocking your team’s potential.

When building a workforce plan, don’t focus just on what tasks it can do. Instead, learn how it works and its potential impact on future company support and development.

This approach will help you obtain the foundational skills needed to create workforce plans for any scenario instead of relying on just one version that worked before.

planning your workforce is as important as any other business planning need

What is a workforce plan?

A workforce plan determines if your company has the necessary workforce for its organizational and functional requirements. It identifies future organization demands and gaps in your current team so you can make strategic HR decisions ahead of time.

Simply put, a workforce plan involves identifying factors including, but not limited to:

  1. New tasks and processes resulting from business growth
  2. Current workforce skills and limitations
  3. Future staffing requirements
  4. Current process bottlenecks and projected improvements
  5. Hiring, training, and development budgets

For example, suppose you’re a marketing executive planning to ramp up brand awareness campaigns.

To execute this action plan, you hired PR and email marketing specialists, reworked the workflow to prioritize these campaigns, and reassigned a few writers to meet new content production needs. You identified the skills needed to meet your company objectives, hired people to fill workforce gaps, enabled people to work on these tasks, and removed bottlenecks.

All these processes are part of workforce planning.

Why is it important to use a workforce plan template?

To say that workforce planning is complex would be an understatement. The process consumes considerable time and resources because it features many moving parts and involves people from nearly every business team.

One of the primary benefits of using a workforce planning template is that once you’ve built a successful one, you can treat it as a recipe for future success. Templates also build upon the foundation of success at past companies — you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, just adapt something established to your specific organization.

A workforce plan founded on your business’s unique characteristics lets you make more accurate project forecasts and better on-the-fly adjustments based on your experiences from previous iterations.

Even if you don’t have a company template handy, you can find several templates to tailor-fit to your business strategy needs or simply use them as references.

people discussing how life gets easier with a workforce plan template

Creating your workforce plan

If you’ve never created a workforce plan before, don’t worry — here are the core workforce planning steps to get you started.

How to create a workforce plan

1. Define your business goals

Business goals can differ in scale. The bigger your goals, the more processes and objectives will be needed to achieve them.

2. Identify HR needs

Once you’ve determined your objectives, it’s time to identify the skills and specializations required to meet them. Ask questions like:

  • How many people do you need to hire?
  • Will you need to restructure teams?
  • Are there specific skills that can make a more profound impact on future success?
  • What do I need to help assess the skills of current team members? 

3. Assess your current workforce

Assessing your people isn’t just looking at each employee’s job description and inputting their responsibilities on a spreadsheet. Each person in the company has unique strengths that may make them an excellent fit for specific roles.

For instance, if you’re planning on starting a YouTube channel and need a scriptwriter, you may not necessarily need to start recruiting for one. You might already have writers on your blog team who possess an affinity for writing video scripts.

While understanding your team’s capabilities can be tedious, the results are worthwhile. Connect with the people behind the job descriptions to accurately judge aspects in which your team excels or may need extra help.

4. Perform workforce gap analysis

With your goals and workforce capabilities defined, you should be able to identify gaps in resources. This workforce gap analysis will allow you to identify:

  • If and how many people that you need to hire.
  • If you can address skill gaps by providing training to existing employees.
  • Estimates for your workforce planning budget.

Sometimes, restructuring your team may be more optimal than hiring new people.

If you have several part-timers in the company, promoting them to full-time hours might be more sensible. Since they already know the ins and outs of the company and you already have connections with them, it will be easier to implement your workforce plan with these same people.

5. Define success metrics

No planning process would be complete without clearly defined success conditions. Performance metrics will indicate whether or not your workforce plan is working.

Don’t be alarmed if you experience a few road bumps along the way. Unexpected factors and adjustments are part of execution, but remember that success ultimately depends on whether you met your goals, not on how few issues you encountered.

The 5 Rs of workforce planning

The 5 Rs of workforce planning are a system designed to ensure output quality without sacrificing team flexibility or exceeding budgets. If you can build a workforce planning template based on these principles, you’ll be off to a good start.

These 5 Rs are:

  1. Right size: A bigger team can offer better coverage over skills and responsibilities, but it also translates to higher costs. On the other hand, a smaller team may not provide the same versatility as a larger one, but it’s easier to stay on top of their budget, coordinate between people, and ensure no work is wasted.
  2. Right shape: What does your organizational chart look like? When building your workforce plan, consider how many people you need for strategy and execution. Too much bulk on the bottom line may overwhelm managers and slow them down. Conversely, an excess of managers or leadership figures may grind processes to a halt because too many people are involved in decision-making.
  3. Right skills: Strategy tells you which way to go, but employee skills and specializations are what move the needle. Identify critical skills essential to your business goals to minimize roadblocks and ensure efficiency.
  4. Right site: Consider each person’s unique strengths when designing your workforce’s architecture. Do the responsibilities assigned to them make sense, or are there other roles or teams in which they can make a more significant impact? Place employees where they can bring out their best, as this benefits both them and the organization.
  5. Right spend: Staying within budget isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial for profitability. The challenge is finding the right person for the specific job. Hiring an overqualified person may perform well but push you over budget, while a less experienced professional may lead to additional expenses because they’re struggling to produce the desired output.

Workforce plan templates

The good thing with workforce plan templates is that you can take a template and mold it according to your specific needs.

Types of workforce planning templates

Workforce plan templates can be documents, spreadsheets, or presentations. Depending on the scope of your goals and other factors, one format may be more suitable.

Document templates

Workforce plans in PDF or document format — like Microsoft Word — are a good starting point if you need to write expansive documentation detailing every requirement and step, precise budget numbers, step-by-step processes, and other minute details.

Sample workforce plan for [X Company]

1. Business goals

  • Current state of the company
  • Future goals
  • Summary of workforce requirements

2. Assessment of the current workforce

  • Employee headcount
  • Team distribution
  • Skills, responsibilities, and specializations

3. Future workforce needs

  • Breakdown of future goals into tasks and responsibilities
  • Skills required to handle tasks

4. Gap analysis

  • Review existing workforce capabilities
  • Requirement or skills gaps

5. Hiring/development strategy

  • Recruitment criteria and channels
  • Hiring timelines
  • Interviewers for specific positions
  • Candidates for training or reassignment

6. Budget plan

  • Budgets for job roles and training programs

7. Performance monitoring

  • KPIs and success metrics
  • Milestones and roadblocks

Table template

Workforce planning templates in tabular or spreadsheet format aren’t as detailed as documents. However, due to their visual nature, they make understanding the workforce planning model easier.

GoalCurrent workforceFuture workforce needsBudget
Goal #1(People and skills relevant to the objectives)(Workforce skill gaps and priority needs)(Budgets for hiring specific roles or employee development)
Goal #2
Goal #3

Presentation template

A presentation template may be more useful when introducing an action plan to your team or acquiring approval from stakeholders.

It’s a good idea to complement your complete document with a presentation that highlights the critical points. This presentation makes it easier for everyone to stay on the same page.

You can also develop your template using a project management tool to make transitioning to the execution phase easier.

hiring gets easier when you use a workforce plan template to understand your skills gaps

Best practices for implementing your workforce plan

Developing an organization plan is only half the journey. Even a well-designed plan may fail with poor execution.

To ensure your workforce plan’s success, follow these best practices.

1. Clearly define responsibilities

There should never be vagueness of any degree when you’re defining responsibilities. This can be disastrous for the strategy and the company’s overall employee experience.

Sensible responsibilities pave the way for realistic expectations. Specify what each employee needs to deliver, when they need to provide it, and who they can reach out to if they need help.

2. Be prepared to make adjustments

It’s important to accept that things can go wrong early on — even when it looks like your talent plan has no points of failure.

There’s nothing wrong with having faith in your strategy. However, it isn’t uncommon to encounter issues or uncover flaws in the plan as you’re executing it. An issue does not mean a failure of strategic direction or a mismatch in business needs. 

A comprehensive action plan is one that will prepare you for flexibility to address the transition.

If something clearly isn’t working out, find another approach. Such situations don’t mean the workforce plan is a failure; they only show the unpredictability of work processes and offer a unique opportunity for your team to collaborate and resolve issues.

3. Track your metrics

It’s difficult to understand what you can’t track. Tracking your metrics informs you if things are going to plan or if you’re falling behind in some aspects. Include places to record this data in your workforce planning template and any final documentation you make for future reviews.

Hubstaff workforce development tool

A tool like Hubstaff Insights gives you access to valuable talent data such as:

  • Time tracked to projects
  • Resource-consuming activities
  • Productivity trends over time
  • Time spent on meetings

Hubstaff also automates several administrative tasks like payroll, invoicing, and timesheet management, giving you more time for work that drives results.

Review tools to see how you can capture data associated with all strategic goals. If you have multiple options, consider ones that operate with greater efficiency around metrics important to employees and their challenges and expectations.

4. Listen to your people

Finally and most importantly, always communicate with your team

They know best how the plan is going, and their experiences will be the most genuine data you’ll have access to.

The people at the ground level are often the first to see when things aren’t going according to plan. Their feedback helps you assess how to proceed when you need a change.

It’s important to remember that your people want success as much as you do. When they tell you something isn’t going right, don’t hesitate to trust them — even if it means making decisions not originally included in your workforce plan.

Sometimes, you won’t be able to respond to their concerns. When that happens, first tell them that you trust them. Then, explain why you’re not following their suggestions because of your plan or ultimate goals. 

Explanation and consideration are critical to maintaining trust throughout your process.


Human resources is directly responsible for the amount of success a company can achieve. Workforce planning enables them to synchronize with stakeholders, leaders, and core employees to build a powerhouse team. You’re ready to bridge any gap and analyze progress at every step.

Workforce planning templates provide structure to this arduous process. A great template will guide you to your immediate goals and serve as a blueprint for future planning campaigns, helping you overcome any challenge that can affect your bottom line.

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Category: Workforce Management