What is Workforce Planning?

Keith Koons

Workforce planning is a strategic process in which businesses determine how to locate and hire qualified employees. Business leaders use workforce planning to evaluate their current staff in order to make determinations on which areas of the company require the most improvement. By using a process called environmental scanning, companies also rate their talent in comparison with other industries similar to theirs. Anytime a business wishes to expand or begin operations within a new venture, workforce planning helps them find qualified workers from colleges and other businesses as well. Another big aspect of workforce planning is closing the gaps, which entails all of the services that the human resources (HR) department provides.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Every business implements some form of workforce planning in one aspect or another, even if the company only has a few employees. By evaluating the current staff and determining each person's strengths and limitations, the business leaders can determine what methods could be implemented to boost sales or to raise employee morale. For example, if one area of business appears inadequate, the owner may decide to implement new training protocols like seminars or classes. Other situations may require that certain employees are terminated, but this usually does not occur until replacements are already found.

Environmental scanning is also a common workplace planning technique since most businesses do everything they can to learn about their competition. If a competitor is successful largely due to a single employee or leader, similar industries may be inclined to approach that individual and offer him employment. Without monitoring other businesses, this information would not be available to employers and they would have little on which to base their successes and failures. This is particularly true when it comes to launching new campaigns or implementing new products and services. Each of these moves is made in response to what the competition is doing.

Closing the gaps is a term used to describe how HR departments keep qualified employees within the business. This is accomplished not only by monitoring the current staff and keeping them happy, but it also involves finding ways to hire top professionals in the future. For example, if a business has experienced positive growth for an extended period of time, it knows from experience that employees at all levels will have to be located and trained. By finding new workers before the company actually needs them, the HR department ensures that the transition periods of new employees are kept to a minimum.

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