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Strategic Workplace Planning: A Comprehensive Guide

Comprehensive knowledge about strategic workforce planning. Learn what strategic workforce planning is, why it’s important & steps to develop your plan.


By ActivTrak

4 numbered blocks to symbolize the steps in strategic workforce planning.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, organizations need to stay ahead of the curve. This means planning for their most valuable asset – their workforce. Strategic workforce planning (SWP) is a crucial process that helps organizations align their human capital with their business goals, ensuring long-term, sustainable success. 

What is strategic workforce planning?

Strategic workforce planning is a systematic process of determining the workforce requirements of an organization and devising strategies to fulfill those requirements. It involves analyzing the current workforce, predicting future needs and developing a comprehensive plan to meet those needs. It’s a vital process for organizations to ensure they have the necessary talent to drive growth, manage risk and achieve their strategic objectives. 

What is the purpose of strategic workforce planning?

The goal of strategic workforce planning is to give companies the ability to plan ahead and pivot as needed. By aligning the workforce with business goals, organizations can ensure they have the necessary skills, capabilities and capacity to meet evolving market demands. SWP enables organizations to progressively address major human resources issues before they become a problem.

Benefits of strategic workforce planning 

Strategic workforce planning helps organizations prepare ahead for known changes as well as unforeseen issues. Beyond aligning human resources and talent departments with the strategy of the overall organization, SWP can help retain employees and minimize the costs of hiring and training. SWP can also help an organization recognize and fix gaps in talent and improve the recruitment and hiring process. Productivity and performance can also be improved with SWP. 

Examples of strategic workforce planning

There are many ways a company might engage in strategic workforce planning, depending on its goals and needs. While there’s no set path for any organization to take, a few examples include:

  • Introducing training programs to help employees reach their own career goals
  • Developing leaders through workshops and outside training programs
  • Creating a talent strategy that includes recruitment goals and planning
  • Addressing workforce gaps through recruitment efforts and internal training
  • Addressing employee turnover through employee engagement programs
  • Gathering data on workforce engagement and productivity through employee monitoring
  • Analyzing technology’s impact on employees 

5 elements of a strategic workforce plan

In order to create an effective workforce plan, there are key areas to address in the plan. While there are many ways for an organization to implement an SWP, addressing these five general initiatives can help guide the process most effectively.

  1. Defined workforce goals: The first key element is a clear definition of what your organization needs in terms of a workforce, whether that’s to grow headcount, to improve leadership or to increase engagement and productivity of existing employees. Your SWP should match your company’s business strategy. This is also the first step in creating your plan, as stated below. 
  2. Alignment with other strategies, processes and policies: Leadership across the organization should be involved in SWP in order to ensure its success and that the proposed plan aligns with strategies and policies. Changes in your workforce affect every department, which means everyone has a stake in the overall plan. A good SWP will include alignment with business objectives and action plans. 
  3. Talent management strategies: Any SWP should include talent acquisition goals and other ways to address skill gaps. Expanding your workforce can mean trying new methods of recruiting, but you may find that hiring from within can help suit your needs. Your SWP should address both recruiting and training existing employees. 
  4. Financial planning and budgets: As with any new program, it’s important to budget resources for your SWP. This can include salaries for new talent, employee bonuses for improved performance or hitting goals, recruitment bonuses and more. 
  5. Technology needs: Technology is an important part of any SWP. Determine which programs or apps you’ll need to monitor productivity, recruit new talent, train employees and measure success. 

4 Steps to create a strategic workforce plan

The workforce planning process isn’t a one-time activity but rather an ongoing commitment. You’ll need several interconnected steps to ensure a holistic approach to your plan: 

  1. Identify business goals

The first step in SWP is to clearly define your organization’s business goals and objectives. Strategic goals must include the company’s mission, vision and values, as well as its short-term and long-term goals. By aligning the workforce plan with overall business goals, your company can ensure that its human capital strategy supports the overall organization strategy. 

  1. Analyze the current workforce

To effectively plan for the future, your organization needs to understand its current workforce. This involves looking at the composition of the existing workforce in terms of skills, experience, demographics and performance. By identifying strengths, weaknesses and gaps in the workforce, you can develop strategies to optimize talent utilization, address any skills shortages or surpluses and reward high performers. One way to achieve this? Conduct a skills gap analysis. Another idea is to use employee monitoring software such as ActivTrak to gain data points on employee productivity and engagement. 

  1. Predict future workforce needs

To anticipate your future workforce requirements, consider internal and external factors that could impact your talent needs, too. This includes industry trends, technological advancements, regulatory changes and other market dynamics. By understanding future demand for specific skills and job roles across the market, you can proactively plan for talent acquisition and development based on your goals. 

  1. Documentation

Based on your analysis of current and future workforce needs, you can develop and document a comprehensive strategic workforce plan. This plan should outline the strategies and actions you’ll need to take to acquire, develop and retain necessary talent. It will include recruitment and selection strategies, training and development initiatives, succession planning and performance management processes. The plan should also consider diversity and inclusion goals to foster a culture of equality and belongingness within an organization. 

Put a strategic workforce plan into action at your organization

Strategic workforce planning can help your organization get a leg up in terms of talent acquisition, retention and overall performance. ActivTrak gives your company insights into productivity and performance to help inform your workforce planning strategy. 

Our employee monitoring platform helps you spot trends in workforce capacity to help you better plan workloads. Plus ActivTrak provides insight into employee disengagement to help you prevent burnout and improve employee retention. You can also quickly see which technology is helping or hampering employee productivity, as well as which processes may need tweaking so employees can effectively do their jobs. 

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