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Introduction to Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is grounded in its contribution to organizational performance. It provides management with a way to align the workforce with the business plan, and address current and future workforce issues. Workforce planning helps employers better:

  • Project and respond to organization-wide staffing needs.
  • Influence development of job classes, rules, and collective bargaining agreements.
  • Deploy staff and organize work.
  • Manage organizational culture.
  • Anticipate and manage risk.

What is Workforce Planning?

The terms workforce planning and succession planning are often used interchangeably. Many books and articles also use the terms human capital plan and talent management.

Washington State uses the following definitions:

  • Workforce Planning: The overall process of linking workforce strategies to desired business outcomes.
  • Staffing Plans: The specific workforce strategies for recruiting, retaining, developing, and managing employees.
  • Succession Programs: The specific staffing strategies designed to develop an internal pool for anticipated vacancies.

Click here to view a chart of Workforce Planning Strategy Areas (PDF file).

Strategic Planning and Workforce Planning

Strategic business plans create direction and a foundation for allocating resources. The goals, objectives, strategies, and performance measures within the business plan should highlight the key workforce priorities.

Workforce planning requires leadership, commitment, and cooperation. While workforce planning is chiefly a responsibility of management, several business units contribute, including Strategic Planning, Budget, and Human Resources. A workforce planning consultant can help ensure all units work together to ensure success.

Workforce Planning Guide

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