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Workforce Planning: 2 Types of Staff Planning & 6 Stages of Workforce Planning

For any organization, workforce planning is crucial to ensure that the correct number of employees with the right skills are available. Workforce planning involves:

  • Assessing the current workforce.
  • Identifying future needs.
  • Developing strategies to ensure that the right people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time.

If you want to ensure that your human resources align with the overall goals and objectives of the business, you must understand staff planning.

That’s what we are exploring in this article. We look closer at why workforce planning is essential for organizations to adapt to changing business environments and stay competitive.

Workforce planning is crucial for organizations for many reasons, the most important of which is ensuring that the right number of employees with the right skills are available to ensure productivity and profitability. 

When you invest in workforce planning systems, you can anticipate and respond to changes proactively, ensuring you have the talent needed to achieve business objectives. There are several reasons why strategic workforce planning is of such importance.

1. Strategic alignment

Workforce planning can help understand the business’s long-term goals and anticipate what skills and talents will be needed to achieve those objectives. Such strategic alignment is essential for sustained growth and competitiveness.

2. Anticipation of future workforce requirements

When you are proactively investing in staff planning, you can easily identify potential skill gaps, technological advancements, or industry trends that give you an edge in the competition.

3. Efficient resource utilization

With reliable workforce planning systems, organizations can easily prevent overstaffing or understaffing, leading to increased efficiency, reduced labor costs, and improved productivity.

4. Talent retention and development

Workforce planning helps managers identify employees with high potential. Then, they can create strategies for their growth and retention to strengthen the existing workforce. It helps in succession planning, ensuring a pipeline of skilled individuals ready to assume key roles.

5. Cost savings

When you can allocate resources efficiently, you can prevent unnecessary expenditures associated with hiring, training, and onboarding. You can optimize your budgetary allocations and achieve cost savings by identifying and addressing workforce gaps.

6. Improved decision-making

Workforce planning enables data-driven insights, empowering HR and leadership decision-makers to make informed choices regarding recruitment, training, and organizational development.

7. Engagement and satisfaction

When companies are invested in the skill development of employees and recognize their contributions, it enhances their engagement and job satisfaction.

Workforce planning fosters a work environment where employees feel their contributions are meaningful and integral to the company’s success.

Types of Workforce Planning

Staff planning is a sophisticated process that demands understanding the classification of workforce planning. Two key types of workforce planning, strategic and operational, serve distinct purposes within this comprehensive framework. Let’s understand each in detail.

1. Strategic workforce planning

Strategic workforce planning is essential to ensure that organizations have the right talent, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time to achieve their strategic goals. It is a forward-looking, long-term approach that focuses on aligning an organization’s human capital strategy with its overall business strategy.

Its prolonged duration sets strategic workforce planning apart from operational workforce planning. Typically, strategic workforce planning spans several years, anticipating the organization’s future needs. 

Strategic planning is essential because it makes businesses adaptable to changes in the external business environment, allowing organizations to pivot in response to market trends and industry shifts. It often involves initiatives for talent development, succession planning, and leadership pipeline creation.

An example of strategic workforce planning is when a manufacturing company wants to adopt automation. The plan may involve:

  • Hiring workers who can operate CNC machines.
  • Upskilling existing employees.
  • Developing a strategy for retaining top talent.

2. Operational workforce planning

Operational workforce planning, in comparison, is a more short-term and tactical approach that addresses immediate workforce challenges. This type of workforce planning is necessary for day-to-day operational requirements, focusing on the current state of the workforce and immediate staffing needs.

As mentioned, a key differentiator is the shorter time frame; operational workforce planning often takes weeks or months to address immediate concerns. Rather than long-term planning, it is task-oriented, involving scheduling, staffing, and ensuring that essential roles are filled promptly. 

Operational workforce planning has to be flexible to allow organizations to adapt quickly to fluctuations in demand, unexpected staff shortages, or other operational challenges.

Let’s understand operational workforce planning with an example. In retail, operational workforce planning can help adjust staff schedules based on peak shopping hours. It will help ensure enough employees are on the sales floor during busy periods and optimize staffing levels during slower times.

Therefore, the key differences between strategic and operational workforce planning are time horizons, scope of planning, and flexibility. Strategic workforce planning looks at the organization’s long-term future, while operational workforce planning addresses more immediate needs.

Now that you understand the types of staff planning, taking steps involved in successful workforce planning is essential.

There are six stages of workforce planning to create a comprehensive framework for organizations to assess their current workforce, anticipate future needs, and develop strategies to meet those needs effectively.

1. Decide strategic direction and goals

The first stage of workforce planning involves determining the organization’s strategic direction: where you are and where you want to go. You can only expect to truly plan for workforce changes if your goals and objectives are comprehensively defined.

You must engage with organizational leadership to understand the long-term vision to decide on strategic direction and goals. Based on the insights, align workforce planning with the broader strategic plan.

It would help if you define specific, measurable, and achievable goals to achieve this. Doing so successfully will provide the foundation for subsequent workforce planning stages.

2. Analyze the existing workforce

For staff planning, you must clearly understand the current workforce. Managers should thoroughly analyze the current workforce composition, skills, and capabilities. This will help them identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement within the current workforce.

An easy way to analyze the existing workforce is to collect overall data on current employees, including skills, experience, and performance. Assess the effectiveness of the current workforce in meeting organizational goals.

A comprehensive understanding of the existing workforce is essential to identify areas of strength and potential gaps.

3. Gap analysis

An organization’s prospects will require workers to possess the necessary technical skills. A gap analysis will help you compare the current state of your workers with the future requirements identified in the strategic goals.

As a result, you can easily identify discrepancies and areas where additional skills or resources are needed. Once you get the data, you can plan how much you can upskill the existing employees and to what extent you must acquire talent to achieve the planned strategic goals.

4. Develop your plan

Based on the insights you get from the above three stages of workforce planning, create a comprehensive workforce plan that outlines strategies to address identified gaps. It would help if you define what specific actions need to be taken for recruitment, training, and talent development. 

The HR department must be included at this stage to formulate strategies to acquire the necessary skills through recruitment or internal development. Ensure you mention each strategy’s timelines, budgets, and key performance indicators to keep planning real.

5. Implement workforce planning

Once a strategic workforce plan is created with participation from all the stakeholders, execute the strategies outlined in the workforce plan. It will start with initiating recruitment, training, and development activities.

The organization must implement recruitment initiatives to acquire missing skills at this stage. Training programs for upskilling existing employees need to be deployed. Furthermore, the execution of the workforce plan should be closely monitored to make any adjustments when needed.

6. Monitor progress

Continue evaluating and adjusting the workforce plan based on the data from key performance indicators and assess the impact of implemented strategies. Regularly take feedback from employees and leaders. Their insights can be valuable in adjusting the workforce plan based on changing circumstances or goals.

When these six stages of workforce planning are implemented effectively, you create a dynamic and adaptive workforce plan that evolves with the organization’s needs. Such a plan ensures continued alignment with strategic objectives.

Principles of workforce planning

Several principles guide the development and implementation of initiatives to ensure the effectiveness of workforce planning. Here are the fundamental principles of workforce planning:

1. Be flexible

Workforce planning should empower an organization’s overarching business strategy and goals to be flexible to adapt to changing market trends. Workforce planning can ensure the workforce is strategically positioned to contribute directly to the organization’s success with changing requirements.

2. Address inefficiencies

Workforce planning’s accurate and relevant data-driven approach can help identify the skill gap in the workforce. It will ensure the right talent is available to execute future development plans.

3. Improve quality

Workforce planning is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment. It ensures the right talent is available at the right time for the job.

4. Improve retention

When employees across different departments, teams, and functions get feedback on their performance and ample skill development opportunities, it boosts the employee retention rate.

5. Collaboration and communication

Successful workforce planning involves collaboration among stakeholders, including leadership, HR, and departmental managers. It helps in building transparency and support for workforce planning initiatives.

Benefits of workforce planning

1. Helps create a roadmap for achieving business goals

Workforce planning helps create a roadmap for achieving business goals by aligning human resources with the requirements of strategic goals and objectives. It results in improved efficiency and effectiveness in achieving organizational objectives.

2. Preparing for the future

Workforce planning involves forecasting future workforce requirements based on industry trends, technological advancements, and organizational goals.

Anticipating such needs helps companies proactively adapt to industry changes and market demands. It reduces vulnerability to skills shortages and workforce challenges.

3. Discovering workforce gaps

Workforce planning systems can easily identify gaps in the current workforce – whether in skills, experience, or quantity. This highlights areas where an organization may be lacking the necessary talent.

4. Effective succession planning

When organizations know the key positions and critical roles, it helps develop strategies for nurturing talent and ensuring a pipeline of skilled individuals for leadership positions. Workforce planning can reduce disruption during leadership transitions.

5. Providing data to support HR decisions

Workforce planning significantly relies on data-driven insights. It provides HR professionals with the information to make strategic decisions regarding recruitment, training, talent management, and resource allocation.

6. Improved retention strategies

When organizations understand the skills and aspirations of employees, they can develop effective retention strategies. Workforce planning assists in recognizing and addressing factors that contribute to employee turnover.

7. Flexibility

Workforce planning makes organizations flexible so they can easily adapt to changes in the business environment by adjusting staffing levels, skills, and resources as needed.

How does Truein help with workforce planning?

Truein is a cloud-based time and attendance management software crucial to workforce planning. Featuring AI-based facial recognition and GPS geofencing technology, this app can provide accurate data on employee work hours, attendance patterns, and related metrics. 

It helps with faster onboarding, balanced work scheduling, and precise productivity monitoring. Truein can be deployed as a smartphone self-service app, so your employees don’t have to use timecards or kiosks to clock in or out. It eliminates manual timekeeping errors, reducing inaccuracies in payroll and attendance data.

With its GPS geofencing capabilities, managers have visibility into employee attendance, working hours, and their location at work. This visibility helps in understanding workforce availability, identifying trends in attendance patterns, and making informed decisions about resource allocation and scheduling.

Truein’s robust scheduling features optimize employee work schedules and ensure you have the right workforce to meet operational demands.

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Workforce planning is crucial for sustainable growth and profitability. It can help businesses navigate the complex and ever-changing technological and business landscape. With effective workforce planning, you can align human resources with strategic organization goals, ensuring the right talent is always available to succeed today and in the future.


1. What is the goal of workforce planning?

Workforce planning aims to align an organization’s human resources with its strategic goals and objectives. This involves assessing the current workforce, identifying future needs, and developing strategies to ensure that the right people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time.

2. How is workforce planning different from workforce management?

Workforce management is more operational and concerned with day-to-day activities such as scheduling, time and attendance tracking, and performance management. Workforce planning, on the contrary, is a long-term commitment to align human resources with organizational goals.

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