Human Resources Q&A: Workforce planning is part of strategic planning

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The question: I am a manager with a nonprofit service organization. We have just completed our strategic planning retreat. I appreciate the process and the new initiatives that have been identified as a result, however I am uncertain about how we can maintain our current services and achieve new strategies with our existing staffing levels. I feel that we have neglected to acknowledge and recognize the impact of new initiatives on our existing workforce. How can this be addressed effectively?

Your observation is valid and not uncommon. Strategic ripple often goes unrecognized and organizations can set themselves up for failure when workforce planning is not completed hand in hand with strategic planning. Changes at the strategy level have a high impact at the ground level.

Systematic workforce planning is an integral part of strategic planning. By carefully considering the impact of strategic initiatives on the existing workforce and identifying the changes required, the organization can ensure it has the staffing levels, competencies and corresponding HR levers in place to ensure that the strategic direction is realized.

Whether the strategy involves growth or shrinking of services, effective workforce planning helps ensure that the required knowledge, expertise and required numbers of staff are in place for a smooth transition. The workforce plan takes into account all the factors that impact the ability of staff to successfully achieve the outcomes required of them in relation to strategic and operational goals.

Systematic workforce planning is an ongoing process conducted in conjunction with strategic planning. As the strategy of the organization changes, so too, does the workforce plan.

The eight step process used by Gailforce to assist organizations with workforce planning is as follows:

  • Strategy integration — this is the process of considering how each initiative impacts the roles within the organization.
  • Environmental scanning — the process of reviewing internal and external environments and their relation to achieving strategic success.
  • Forecast workforce needs — The process of projecting your future workforce needs.
  • Analyze your workforce supply — The process of determining your current workforce supply & its implications on future workforce needs.
  • Weigh your HR Levers — A process of reviewing the effectiveness of your human resource levers in relation to the required outcomes of each role.
  • Identify the gaps — The process of identifying numbers, competency & lever gaps in relation to your desired organizational outcomes & strategic plan.
  • Develop strategies — The process of developing an action plan, to close the gaps in numbers, competencies and HR levers, which are needed to support the achievement of the organizational strategy & operational goals.
  • Evaluate and revise — The process of evaluating and revising both your workforce planning process prior to roll out and ongoing review and revision to ensure your workforce plan is effective and changes along with the strategy of the organization.

This is a collaborative process that brings together key executives and front-line staff to ensure a holistic approach that addresses the real issues of the organization and develops a workforce plan that staff will recognize as valuable to their roles and the organization as a whole.

Disclaimer: Advice and recommendations are based on limited information provided and should be used as a guideline only. Neither the author nor make any warranty, express or implied, or assume any legal liability for accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided in whole or in part within this article.

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