Strategic workforce planning; perhaps it’s a term you’ve heard bandied around the office or used in meetings, maybe you’ve even used it yourself without fully understanding what it is.  What do we mean when we speak about strategic workforce planning and what can it bring to your business, your team and, let’s face it, more importantly, you?



A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim


Ultimately it’s all about your business needs, which will emerge from your business strategy; what do you need your business to achieve and is this possible with the combined abilities of your workforce?  By reflecting inwardly and asking the right questions you can discover whether your business is, in its current state, ready and capable for the growth you have planned for it!

The power of your people is vital to your assessment, you won’t be able to plan strategically for your workforce if you don’t know where your power lies and what powers your staff possess, or more importantly, the vital skills that your staff doesn’t possess.  By analysing, evolving and planning ahead, you’ll avoid any fire fighting situations, having to make changes as you’ve already hit issues, are already missing deadlines or losing customers, strategic workforce planning equips and prepares your business so emergency measures like laying off teams or panic-hiring aren’t neccessary. 


Work through the following points to ask the right questions of your organisation and build up your strategic workforce planning methods. 

strategic workforce planning

Skill Building: Identify gaps in knowledge within the whole team. Fill and repair these gaps by engaging in training and retraining for team members or by bringing in specialists where they’re needed.

If your business is striving to provide a service it is not equipped to provide, you’ll never succeed, so be critical of your own progress and of your team (but remember not to flippantly criticise individuals – that’s bad leadership), and discover those gaps in knowledge!

Q1: Do team X currently have the skills to achieve the things they should be achieving?

Q2: Can any missing skills be taught or do you need another team member to fill this skills gap?


Efficient and Lean:

Build an effective team and a lean organisation which does not waste talent or company resources.  A lean organisation understands providing the best possible customer satisfaction with the least resources possible.  This does not mean cutting out staff.  This means creating a team which provides value and knowing the size of your organisation is just right; by having an unnecessary excess of employees, you have not effectively planned your workforce. Similarly by not having enough staff to deal with demand, you have failed to strategically plan your workforce. Know the size that you need your team to be for your organisation to operate at its optimum.  

Q1: Are there any unnecessary positions in your business structure?

Q2: Is any part of your team struggling to keep up with their demands?



How is your business structured? Often our teams grow and develop organically, and while there is nothing wrong with this, it can lead to an oddly structured business with overlapping roles and leaves us open to inefficiency. Defined roles, teams, hierarchies and development routes make it easier to assess and develop an organisation’s strategic workforce planning.  If you need to remodel how your teams coordinate or fit together holistically, then do – a flexible business is a strong business.

Q1: Ask your staff if there is anything that they feel does not work. 

Q2: Ask yourself, with the knowledge you now have, how you would structure your business if you had to do it from scratch

strategic workforce planning

Don’t be too frugal:

We all know that sometimes we need to spend money to make money.  So by ensuring we are growing and running efficient, lean businesses, we can then find the slack in the purse strings to allow for investment into new equipment, staff, training or whatever it may be that you know will lift your business from great to outstanding!

Q1: What would you like to invest in, in an ideal world?

Q2: What would this bring your business and will the gain outweigh the initial investment?


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