How to get started with Workforce Planning

The human capital residing within an organisation is arguably the most important factor impacting an organisations ability to sustain long-term growth and success. Workforce planning is one of the key components of effective human capital management and a topic widely discussed as having an ever-growing importance on the future of work, yet we see so many HR functions failing to successfully embed effective workforce planning process. Why is this?

What is workforce planning?

Let’s first start with defining what workforce planning is. Workforce planning is the process of analysing your current state, determining your future state and identifying the gap between the workforce that you have, and the workforce that you require for the future. It also encompasses the implementation of solutions aligned to your organisation’s strategic goals to ensure you have the right people, with the right skills, at the right time, in the right roles and locations.  

The opportunity for HR

Organisational leaders are more enthusiastic than ever, to see the connection that links their people and workforce information to their business strategy, outcome, and cost. While it is widely accepted that workforce planning is extremely important to an organisation, in a study from Harvard Business Review on how CEO’s and CHRO’s can connect people to business strategy, only 41% of CEO’s & CHRO’s involved in the study reported receiving any information relating to workforce planning, from HR.

Workforce planning presents an important opportunity for HR to deliver real insight to the business, by providing a holistic view of their workforce and an understanding of how their talent strategy aligns to their business strategy. It’s also an opportunity for HR to not only facilitate the strategic end of the process but to set the agenda for workforce change and become a trusted advisor to the business.

When done well, workforce planning can lead to greater innovation, talent generation and process improvement within an organisation, allowing informed, data driven talent decisions to be made, that are aligned to strategic priorities and underpinned by advanced and predictive analytics.

Investing in workforce planning allows business leaders to make more targeted talent related investments and supports effective OpEx management, both of which are critical enablers in ensuring that organisations stay ahead in an ever-changing environment. As companies try to create more agile organisations with a mix of full-time, part-time, permanent, contractor and freelance talent, the ability to plan effectively, forecast skill gaps, and understand the supply and demand of talent has never been more important.

The problem we are currently facing

With that said, many organisations are failing to foster an environment where workforce planning is embedded in its core. Without effective workforce analytics or planning, organisations will find it increasingly difficult to retain talent, positively impact their workforce, and struggle to deliver on their business outcomes.

There have been extensive amounts of research looking into why organisations fail at sustaining and embedding workforce planning processes. One of the key factors identified is the lack of definition around what workforce planning is and more importantly why it’s important for both HR and the business. Without clear understanding around the ‘what’, the ‘why’ and the ‘what’s in it for me’ of workforce planning processes, lack of buy-in from both within HR and the business is inevitable.

The change that we need to drive

In order to be successful HR must adopt the role of the ‘facilitator’ of workforce planning within an organisation. Ultimately their primary role is bringing the right people to the workforce planning table and facilitating the right conversations to breakdown the planning silos that are all too often, prevalent in many organisations. We need to foster more collaboration and knowledge-sharing in which a continuous dialog between HR and the business is maintained.

Online Training on Workforce Planning

If you’re looking to get started in workforce planning checkout our newest online training course, Getting Started with Workforce Planning. This introduction to workforce planning will ensure that as a HR professional, you not only understand how to create a strategic workforce plan, but also how you can gain buy-in and manage your workforce planning activities.

The course covers the following key areas:

  • What is workforce planning?

  • How to create a strategic workforce plan

  • How to consider external talent supply and demand

  • How to involve and get buy-in from key stakeholders for your workforce plan

This course aims to provide a solid foundation to the principles behind workforce planning and shows you how to create a strategic workforce plan for your organisation.


Manpreet Randhawa is the Head of Digital Content for In her previous role as the Change Management Lead for People Planning, Design & Analytics at Cisco Systems, she was responsible for defining and executing on the change management strategy to successfully implement and sustain the digital and cultural transformation across the enterprise. Manpreet is very passionate about change management and technology and how to use both to transform the employee experience and prepare companies for the Future of Work.