The Role of Workforce Planning

The greatest goal of strategic workforce planning is ensuring alignment with organizational goals and objectives (Mayo, 2015). For organizations this means that the strategy, technique, and plan to manage the workforce must be created by HR professionals in a manner that sets the organization up for success. For this to happen HR has to be integral to the overall creation of organizational strategy, they need to be included in major decisions, understand the reason behind objectives, and give insight into potential hurdles that may be faced from an HR perspective (Geimer, Zolner, & Allen, 2017). When HR professionals are fully aware and understand organizational goals and objectives then they can begin the workforce planning process.

This process can be described as complex but it ensures that the organization takes a proactive instead of reactive approach to the workforce planning process (Mayo, 2015). While there are multiple strategies that can be taken to align an organizations workforce to its goals and objectives, the most likely first step is conducting an internal and external analysis (Cotten, 2020). An internal analysis would look at the current state of employees within the organization, assessing the ability of these workers to meet organizational goals and objectives (Mayo, 2015). Areas of concern, where talent or workers may not be present, are identified as gaps and would need to be highlighted as areas to address in the workforce plan. This is the proactive approach, identifying gaps in skills, knowledge, and abilities allows for the gaps to be addressed in multiple ways. HR professionals can then decide if they should implement training programs to bring current workers KSA’s to the point of meeting needs, or whether they would need to look outside the organization for workers to meet them (Cotten, 2020).

Once the internal analysis is complete the HR professional should be able to clearly identify the gaps, issues, or potential pitfalls that may be presented by the current workforce and its ability to meet organizational goals and objectives. The focus then turns external, where HR professionals can gauge the current workforce supply, recruiting techniques of competitors, shortage of workers, or even the compensation strategies needed to attract the right talent (Cotten, 2020). This is perhaps the most important aspect of external analysis, understanding what competitors and the market are doing in regards to the employees or workers the organization may need. Many organizations only focus internally and when it comes time to attract new talent are struck by “sticker shock”, or are not prepared to be able to offer competitive compensation, leading to loss of candidates (Rees, Crampton, Gauld, & MacDonel, 2020).

Conducting and internal and external analysis are two strategies that will allow HR professionals to have a clear starting point in the workforce planning strategy. The gaps identified, the skills needed, and potential challenges will then lead HR professionals into the next phase, the strategy to address gaps. This includes the recruiting and selection of external candidates, the creation or revamping of training and education programs, and any other initiatives that will allow the organization to be successful. Workforce planning strategies not only need to be aligned with organizational goals and objectives but they need to be ongoing and proactive in practice (Mayo, 2015).


Cotten, A. (2020, September 30). Seven Steps of Effective Workforce Planning. Retrieved from

Geimer, J. L., Zolner, M., & Allen, K. S. (2017). Beyond HR competencies: Removing organizational barriers to maximize the strategic effectiveness of HR professionals. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 10(1), 42-50.

Mayo, A. (2015). Strategic workforce planning – a vital business activity. Strategic HR Review, 14(5), 174-181.

Rees, G., Crampton, P., Gauld, R., & MacDonel, S. (2020). Rethinking workforce planning for integrated care: using scenario analysis to facilitate policy development. BMC Health Services Research, 20(1), 1-12.

Wei, Y. (2015). Do employees high in general human capital tend to have higher turnover intention? the moderating role of high-performance HR practices and P-O fit. Personnel Review, 44(5), 739-756.