As a business leader, if workforce management isn’t top-of-mind, you risk being left behind. Mastering the art of creating a workforce plan is critical to staying ahead. 

Why create a workforce plan? A solid workforce plan aligns your organization’s human capital with its strategic objectives, ensures optimal use of resources, and fosters a culture of productivity and engagement. 

You can’t afford to overlook workforce planning: Failing to assess skills gaps and forecast business needs can leave your organization without the necessary talent and expertise to achieve its objectives.

Developing a workforce plan requires careful consideration and a structured approach — and we won’t lie to you. It won’t always be easy.

Luckily, we’ve created this guide to simplify the process. We’ll cover how to create a workforce plan and then show you some tools to help ease the process. 

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Understanding workforce planning

Workforce planning is the strategic process of identifying and forecasting an organization’s current and future human resource needs and developing strategies to meet those needs effectively. 

Workforce planning aims to align the organization’s workforce capabilities with its strategic objectives while anticipating and addressing potential challenges or gaps in the labor market and workforce demand. 

88% of organizations report that they are already using time and attendance workforce management applications. Businesses that don’t adapt to this new way of working will struggle to retain and attract top talent and hit organizational goals in the future. 

88% of organizations reported that they have already adopted time and attendance workforce management applications.

An organization can enhance its competitiveness, productivity, and resilience by proactively managing human capital.

Benefits of workforce planning 

Workforce planning is essential for organizations to anticipate current and future talent requirements. Before we delve into how to create a workforce plan, let’s establish why you should prioritize building out a process. 

Here are the key benefits we’ve identified for businesses that focus on workforce planning, backed up by statistics:  

  • Save money: Effective workforce planning helps organizations avoid unnecessary labor costs associated with talent shortages, turnover, and reactive hiring. Turnover alone costs employers an average of $15,000 per worker.
  • Talent optimization: Workforce planning enables organizations to optimize their talent resources by identifying current and future skill gaps, surpluses, and critical roles. This is compelling, considering 87% of talent-optimized companies surpassed or met their goals in the past year.
87% of talent-optimized companies surpassed or met their goals in the past year
  • Mitigate risk: The State of Risk Management 2022 report found that 41% of organizations have experienced three or more critical risk events from internal and external factors in the last 12 months. This helps organizations identify and mitigate potential risks associated with talent shortages, succession gaps, or workforce imbalances. 
  • Improve employee engagement: Gartner HR research has found that only 31% of employees are engaged, enthusiastic, and energized by their work. Others have also done research on employee disengagement and clocked it at up to 85%. A well-organized workforce increases employee engagement by ensuring teams are productive but not overworked. 

Now, let’s get into the meat of this article: creating a workforce plan. 

How to create a comprehensive workforce plan

A well-designed workforce plan serves as a roadmap, aligning organizational objectives with talent needs and ensuring the right people are in the right roles at the right time. 

This section will delve into the essential steps and strategies for creating a comprehensive workforce plan that empowers organizations. With a proper workforce plan in place, you can then proactively address current and future workforce challenges while driving sustained growth and performance.

Step 1: Establish objectives and scope 

Begin by defining the workforce planning initiative’s objectives and the scope of the analysis. 

Meet with all stakeholders to determine what you hope to achieve and the expected time frame in which you expect to accomplish those goals. It’s important to discuss your budget, time commitment, and also the types of strategic workforce planning tools you need to achieve your goals. 

Start with considering the big picture of what you want to improve. Here’s a rough idea of what that might look like.  

The situation:

A mid-sized software company has found that their employee turnover is increasing, and it is costly to replace their team members. In addition, managers are reporting that their teams seem less productive and are not hitting their goals. 

In exit interviews, they’ve been told that employees feel there isn’t a clear succession plan or room for growth. The company has now decided to focus on a workforce planning strategy.   

Project scope: One year 

Project goals:

  • Increase employee retention rate 
  • Reduce employee turnover rate 
  • Develop succession plans 
  • Increase employee productivity

Once you have identified your goals, it’s time to jump into analysis. The first step is finding a tool that automates this process. 

Step 2: Find a workforce management tool

To build a solid workforce plan, you’ll have a lot of data to gather, and we believe that the key is finding the right tools to help you gather and interpret this data.

Various strategic workforce planning tools have emerged to facilitate workforce planning, offering sophisticated solutions to help organizations forecast future talent needs, analyze skills gaps, and develop workforce management strategies.

  • Hubstaff: Hubstaff is an all-in-one workforce management tool that allows you to track time and see real-time productivity insights. As a manager, you can access detailed productivity metrics (like performance trends and industry benchmarks) to simplify workload management.

    • You can also try the Insights add-on to fight burnout, cut down on meetings, and more.
Hubstaff Insights add-on for workforce management
  • Oracle HCM Cloud: Oracle HCM Cloud offers comprehensive workforce planning capabilities, allowing organizations to align talent strategies with business objectives, forecast future workforce needs, and then develop action plans to address skill gaps and succession challenges.
  • Workday Adaptive Planning: Workday Adaptive Planning is a cloud-based platform enabling organizations to create detailed workforce plans, model different scenarios, and then optimize workforce resources to support strategic goals and objectives.

Try some free trials to see which tool will work best for your process. Then, it’s off to the races. 

Step 3: Perform a workforce analysis 

Once you’ve found a tool to help you collect and analyze your data, you can conduct a thorough analysis of the current workforce, including metrics like:

  • Turnover rate
  • Employee skills and competencies
  • Employee engagement scores
  • Absenteeism
  • Productivity rate
  • Employee workload 
  • Time spent in meetings

The key to this step is gathering the correct data and using it effectively to impact your organization positively. Gartner has found that less than half of teams are nailing this. 

Organizational effectiveness 

To avoid this common pitfall, you need to create an actionable plan with a realistic scope for your organization. 

Step 4: Establish KPIs

Based on the workforce analysis, develop action plans to address identified workforce gaps and align the workforce with organizational objectives. 

Here, you will take the broad goals you identified earlier in this process and identify specific goals you want to achieve like:

  • Increase employee retention rate to 90%
  • Reduce employee turnover rate by 15%
  • Develop succession plans for 100% of leadership positions
  • Increase employee productivity by 10%

With these goals in mind, it’s time to establish a plan to improve metrics. 

Step 5: Develop an action plan

Now that you have clear KPIs to hit, it’s time to create an action plan addressing these goals. 

Using our KPIs from above, here are some action steps you could take to improve those metrics:  

  • To improve employee retention: Implement mentorship programs, offer employee development opportunities, and prioritize employee well-being initiatives.
  • To reduce employee turnover: Conduct exit interviews to identify underlying issues, implement competitive compensation and benefits packages, and foster a positive work culture.
  • To develop succession planning: Identify high-potential employees, provide targeted training and development programs, and create clear career advancement pathways.
  • To increase employee productivity: Use productivity insights to determine where employees spend their time. You can also cut down on unnecessary meetings and use workload management to reduce burnout and overworking. 

By following these steps, organizations can develop comprehensive workforce planning initiatives that align talent strategies with business objectives, optimize workforce resources, and drive organizational success.

Implementing your workforce plan

A top-notch workforce plan is no longer negotiable for businesses aiming to outshine their competitors. Luckily, you have all the tools and information you need to create a workforce plan.  

Remember, this is your game plan: 

  1. Establish objectives and scope
  2. Find a workforce management tool
  3. Perform a workforce analysis
  4. Establish KPIs
  5. Develop an action plan 

The first step is to gather business leaders and key stakeholders, set some objectives, and then find a workforce planning tool. A solid plan ensures your team is perfectly aligned with your business goals, maximizing your resources while keeping everyone motivated and engaged. Happy planning!

Have you optimized your business strategy with a workforce plan that identifies future needs? Let us know what you learned in the comments.

Category: Workforce Management