Implementing an effective workforce plan

1 – Establish where your business is going – Business strategy drives the organizational structure

The first step in the strategic workforce planning process is to have a clear understanding of your business strategy.

At the end of the day, your workforce is there to implement the strategy and achieve the expected business results.
Elements of your business strategy that will have the greatest impact on your talent strategy include:

  • Areas of your business that you want to grow
  • Areas of your business that you want to maintain but make more profitable
  • Areas of your business that you want to divest or exit

What does this changing strategy mean for the business?
This is a crucial question that must be understood at the executive level, the business unit level and the front-line operational level. Strategic change fails when the people implementing the change don’t know what they need to do differently in order to support the new strategy. These disconnects create confusion, conflict, and stress, and put even the best people in a position to fail. Make sure that you have thought through the operational details of your strategy, and that you have sufficient facts and the support necessary to make a good decision.

How far, how fast?

Know how far and how fast you can reasonably move. It takes time, money and thought to design and build technology infrastructure, production facilities and distribution capability. Similarly, it takes time to source, deploy and train talent. This is even more true when your workforce requires special skills or credentials, or when your jobs are located in a talent-poor or highly competitive region.
The bottom line is that you need to know your business strategy, and the impact of that strategy, before you can create a meaningful workforce plan.


2 – Understand where the labor market is going

Scanning the market helps you identify talent supply and limitations

Understanding the labor market for the jobs necessary to drive your strategy will help you better understand the length of time it will take to fill a job, the salary you should expect to pay for the job and potential challenges to filling the job. For example, maybe there is a need for a new school in a growing suburb, but the area is expensive and it is difficult to attract teachers. You need to take these factors into account as you build your STRATEGIC WORKFORCE PLANNING.

Common factors to consider include:

Macroeconomic forecasts

A vibrant, growing economy usually increases demand for talent and raises the cost of employment. Conversely, a challenging economy often increases the supply and affordability of even the very best talent.

Demographic trends 

The age of the available workforce can be an indicator of the capability and availability of workers in an area. Therefore it may be desirable to locate a technology business near a college town as opposed to a retirement community.

Regulatory trends 

Consider the regulatory changes that have accompanied the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. People who work for larger organizations because of the health benefits may choose to enter business independently, and this changes the employment mix.

Talent movements trends within your industry 

Who’s moving, where are they moving and why? This can be driven by many external factors such as better job security, better pay or the opportunity to do the most interesting work.


3 – Identify your future talent demands

Business strategy drives organizational and job design

Once you have translated your business strategy into operational requirements, you must design the organization and the jobs necessary to implement the strategy. If you contrast this with your organization and jobs as they stand right now, you can identify jobs you will need to create, jobs you will need to phase out, and the optimal timing of your transition.

Focus on what really matters to avoid “paralysis by analysis”

As with most forecasting efforts, identifying talent demands can be part art and part science. We need to make certain assumptions when we develop our business strategies, and the further ahead we plan, the more uncertain those assumptions become. Rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae, we recommend focusing first on critical roles and critical employee segments.

Critical roles are those jobs that are mission critical to your future business strategy. If you don’t have a solid plan for filling these roles with capable people, the business strategy simply won’t come to life. For example, a new cardiac ward in a hospital needs cardiologists and acute care nurses in order to function.

Critical employee segments can include mature workers, visible minorities, members of Gen Y, ethnic groups, veterans, aboriginals, and others. They can be strategically important to certain organizations that need to fulfill requirements for certain types of government contracts or grants, or that want to meet the needs of key customer groups. For example, a retail organization wants to position itself in areas with a growing Latino population. Having Latino employees is necessary to accomplish this aspect of the strategy.


We found this article from the Cavalry Management Consultants by Don Kolojek