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5 Steps to Using Strategic Workforce Planning in Your Business


Strategic workforce planning can help companies better manage the full lifecycle of talent management, from hiring to retention. Looking at your company's current talent situation and future workforce needs makes it easier to think about hiring the right people and planning the training needed to get your team up to speed. Workforce planning is a challenge for many small organizations, but it doesn't have to be. According to one study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 69% of participants said planning their workforce was an important or essential activity, yet less than half of the organizations actively took part in doing so. Here is a closer look at how workforce planning can benefit your organization - and five easy ways to incorporate it into your human resources initiatives.

Take Stock of Your Current Talent and Recruiting Needs

Strategic workforce planning helps you align your hiring needs with your business' current and future growth opportunities. One of the first steps business leaders should consider is taking stock of current recruiting needs. What positions are most critical at your firm? What areas are you having a difficult time finding talent for? Systematically evaluate your existing talent, recruiting needs, and where the gaps may occur. Many companies find it's useful to segment these results by department, job type, and field to get a better handle on where future needs and opportunities exist for the company.

Systematically evaluate your existing talent, recruiting needs, and where   the gaps may occur.

Project Future Needs and the Ideal State of Your Workforce

What does your workplace and workforce ideally look like in 12 months, two years, or five years down the line? Based on what you know about the company's priorities, where do you see the largest growth? For example, the launch of new products may require adding an in-house development team or growing a small sales team into a full-fledged sales force. Determining your priority needs makes it possible to focus on developing recruiting and retention strategies that can set you up for future success.

Identify Gaps and Hard to Fill Areas

Within the wider area of recruiting, strategic workforce planning allows you to focus on those positions that are hard to fill. By identifying talent gaps in your organization, it is possible to take steps now to mitigate the impact of a talent gap. For example, if you identify a future gap in technology leaders, your company could take several routes. One step might be to invest in training and career development for current lower-level technology employees so they will be ready to step into management opportunities when they arise. Another option might be to begin recruiting and establishing relationships with professional organizations for managers and technology, so you have a wider pool of applicants when positions open up. By identifying these gaps in advance, it is possible to be more strategic with solutions.

Assess the Current Talent Supply and Risks

What are your greatest vulnerabilities in terms of staffing? In some cases, it's turnover. For other businesses, a wave of senior talent is quickly working their way toward retirement. Whether you are facing fierce competition for tech talent or looking to recruit for positions in less-than-desirable parts of the country, every business has its talent challenges. By understanding what risks you face in this area, it's possible to focus on expanding your sourcing, training your current team, or investing in employee retention initiatives.

What does your workplace and workforce ideally look like in 12 months,   two years, or five years down the line?

Roll Your Insights Into an Action Plan

Based on the HR analytics you've reviewed and the information you've collected, it's possible to develop strategies in the following key areas:

  • Talent acquisition and candidate sourcing
  • Building a better recruiting process
  • Developing a successful onboarding strategy
  • Employee training and development
  • Employee retention
  • Knowledge transfer and exits

Strategic workforce planning can be the key to ensuring your talent management aligns with your company's present and future needs. Take advantage of the analytics and data available to predict future needs, develop a talent strategy, and implement an approach that will help your business grow and meet its goals in the years to come.


This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.