workforce planning meeting around table

Prepare for a productive workforce plan

No one has a crystal ball, but creating and updating a comprehensive workforce plan can help ensure you have the right people with the right skills at the right time. It requires examining your organization’s strategic plan.

  • Where will your organization be in one year? In five years? In 10 years?
  • What does the vision for your organization’s future say about future workforce needs
  • What skills will your future workers need? What skills will become obsolete?

Clearly, discussing these big picture questions can be difficult because many of them will impact your employees. Challenging topics can include bringing the right skills on board for a variety of reasons, from meeting the needs of a demanding client to to planning for the retirement of a key executive.

The best way to prepare for necessary changes is to talk about them as early as possible. That means cultivating a workplace culture of open communication about the organization’s future and a transparent process for developing a workforce plan.

We can help you identify what’s needed to develop or update your workforce plan. Get started by considering these important questions:

  • Does your organization have an up-to-date strategic plan? Developing a practical workforce plan requires knowing which direction your organization is headed. The more specific and realistic the strategic plan, the better.
  • What skills and talents will you need to achieve your vision? Do you have the information you need to make a clear-eyed assessment of any gaps between your current workforce and what will be needed to achieve your strategic goals? If you don’t, where can you get the information to assess where your current workforce and your future organizational needs may require alignment?
  • What time or budget constraints must be calculated into your workforce plan? No organization has unlimited resources, and it helps to know your budget parameters for hiring or developing talent. Timing can also be tricky; hiring too soon or waiting too long both have costs. 
  • What has the past year been like? Assessing recent workforce successes and challenges is a necessary step in developing a useful workforce plan. How well does your current workforce meet your needs? Where are the gaps in skills and knowledge? Have your efforts to hire new or develop existing talent to meet your needs been successful? What has worked? What hasn’t?
  • What workforce changes can you plan for? You’ve heard the old adage that no one is irreplaceable. Successful organizations make a priority of succession planning. They also plan for likely staff retirements. For example: Do you have several workers in the same department nearing retirement age at the same time? If so, how are you ensuring they transfer essential institutional knowledge before they leave?

Here are some helpful resources: