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Step 4: Identify Workforce Strategies

Strategies and action plans describe how to achieve the objectives set by employers. Many factors influence what combination of strategies to use. Employers should choose only those few strategies that have the best chance of improving performance.

The chart below shows the typical workforce planning strategies areas. Click here for a more thorough list of Workforce Planning Strategies by Focus Area (PDF file).

Workforce Planning Strategy Areas

  • Recruitment
  • Assessment
  • Training & Development
  • Deployment
  • Retention
  • Affirmative Action
  • Succession
  • Reduction-in-Force
  • Employee Performance Management

  • Classification
  • Compensation
  • Performance Incentive
  • Programs
  • Statutes & Rules
  • Policies & Procedures
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements

  • Reorganization
  • Work Process Redesign

  • Values
  • Diversity
  • Change Management
  • Employee Engagement

  • Critical Incident
  • Preparedness
  • Workplace Violence
  • Workplace Safety
  • Employee Health & Wellness
  • Employment Litigation

Strategy Clusters

While employers may develop stand-alone strategies around a single topic such as succession planning, commonly they will ‘cluster’ interrelated strategies around a complex issue or problem. This is often preferable to single-strategy efforts that only partly address an issue. For example:

Issue: Expected management retirement bubble.

Goal: Minimize the impact of anticipated management retirements.


  • Maintain management turnover at or below 5% for next three years.
  • Maintain the average management ‘time-to-fill’ under 45 days.

Strategy cluster:

  • Reorganize reporting relationships to expand managerial span of control and reduce the number of vacancies that need to be filled. (Organizational Development – Reorganization Strategy)
  • Implement a retention incentive program to encourage mid-level managers to stay past their retirement eligibility date. (Staffing – Retention Strategy)
  • Develop a management training program for succession planning to create a pool of prospective replacements. (Staffing – Succession Strategy)
  • Develop a management recruitment program to proactively identify and build relationships with prospective candidates before vacancies occur. (Staffing – Recruitment Strategy)
  • Develop new recruitment marketing strategy to source management candidates from out of state. (Staffing – Recruitment Strategy)

Click here for more Workforce Planning Strategy Cluster Examples (PDF file).

Action Plans

While there are many ways to develop strategies and action plans, most include action steps that detail the following information:

  • Who is accountable for completing each action step?
  • What specifically needs to be accomplished in each action step?
  • By When does the task need to be completed?

For example:

Goal: Minimize the impact of anticipated management retirements.
Objective: Maintain the average management ‘time-to-fill’ under 45 days.
Strategy: Develop and implement a management training program for succession planning to create a pool of prospective replacements.
Who What By When
Recruiting Manager Interview high performing managers. Review job analyses and position descriptions of managerial positions. Review most recent screening and selection criteria for managerial positions. Develop knowledge, skill, and behavior profile of high potential candidates. 03/01/09
Training Manager Develop course requirements and training objectives. Identify potential training vendors. Estimate costs. Develop training program proposal. 04/01/09
Recruiting Manager Develop recruitment / nomination and selection process for training program, including selection criteria and process. 05/01/09
HR Director Present succession training program proposal to Senior Manager Team. 05/15/09
Recruiting Manager Develop management screening and selection tools that mirror profile of high potential candidate. 07/01/09
HR Director Form Screening / Selection Team. 07/01/09
Screening / Selection Team Select first group of participants. 09/01/09
Training Manager Begin development program. 10/01/09


Click here for an Action Plan template (Word file).


Workforce Planning Guide

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