HR and Workforce Planning

Some see workforce planning as both art and science, along with a little business alchemy. It involves knowing your current employee roster, projecting your future needs, staying aware of hiring trends and more.

While members of your finance and budgeting offices—along with managers and executives—will have a say in how you plan your workforce, HR often serves as the hub.

HR and Workforce Planning

The importance of workforce planning cannot be over-stated, especially in a strong labor market. While workforce planning can be fairly analytical and numbers-driven, at its core it involves projecting hiring needs, predicting talent gaps, and shoring up the links between training, mentoring, and recruiting.  

Workforce planning considers how things like employee turnover, operational needs, and business growth affect talent acquisition.

In a strong hiring environment, it can be difficult to stay ahead of talent acquisition, and therefore support workforce planning. However, workforce planning can help you target your recruiting efforts, and thereby speed up your time-to-fill.

Keep reading to discover four tips that can help you sync up workforce planning and recruiting efforts.


Workforce planning involves recruiting, hiring, and developing your current employees, which can be a key to retaining talent. Download the Spotlight report, “Improve Employee Retention,” to discover other ways to support employee retention efforts.

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Talent Acquisition and Workforce Planning

Workforce planning can help you identify the skills your organization needs at different times, and make targeted hiring decisions. By recognizing current and potential talent gaps, you can make key decisions related to your employee roster. 

Too many organizations still operate reactively when it comes to talent acquisition.

When you recruit reactively, you run the risk of creating a gap in your workflow that other employees will have to fill. Some studies suggest it can take 52 days to fill a position, which is more time than most organizations want to wait.

However, when your recruiting efforts reflect a larger workforce planning strategy, you can nurture prospective candidate relationships ahead of time, and target efforts when it’s time to turn recruiting engines on.

Here are four tips to help sync up your workforce planning and recruiting efforts:

1. Gather key information from managers and department heads

Connect with hiring managers, department heads, and executives. There are a number of key questions you can ask, including:

  • What are their priorities when it comes to the makeup of various workgroups and departments?
  • Have they identified growth and industry challenges?
  • What changes do they envision coming over the next year to 18 months?
  • Is there a new initiative on the horizon for which they need to staff up?
  • What skills do they need in order to meet current organizational goals? How do these needs align with current training and mentoring that’s already underway?

2. Communicate talent gaps

After you’ve gathered information from department heads regarding the makeup of the current workforce, you’ll want to communicate instances where gaps might exist.  

Discuss the types of positions you might need to fill in the short- and long-terms.

This includes required skills and competencies you’ll either need to bring in through recruiting, or help current employees acquire through things like mentoring, job shadowing, or even job rotations.

3. Build candidate profiles

Candidate profiles can help you define key aspects of various positions, and generate a portrait of your ideal candidate. Doing so before you announce an opening can help you target your candidate search, starting with the way you write your job ad.

  • Make it a collaborative effort with other members of your talent acquisition team, hiring managers, and even employees. Find out what skills other people would want a new employee to possess.
  • Generate a broad list of desired experiences, functional skills, and educational background, then narrow down by focusing on key “must-haves.”
  • Include things that might disqualify a candidate right away, such as lack of specific experience or necessary skill.

4. Maintain your talent pool

While the first three tips involve work you’ll do internally, the fourth tip is all about staying connected with talented candidates.

  • Staying connected to talented candidates and fans of your brand can help you jumpstart your recruiting efforts, and drastically reduce your time-to-fill.
  • Some previous job applicants might be strong candidates for future positions. Therefore, the way you handle rejections can come into play when you’re trying to build a talent pool you can connect with in the future. 
  • Therefore, be sure you reject qualified candidates in a way that leaves the door open for future connections, and ongoing brand engagement.
  • Referrals from your current employees can also help you build a talent pool, and speed up your recruiting efforts. In fact, according to SHRM, employee referrals account for as many as 30% of all hires. 

Within the larger scope of your recruiting, training, and retention, workforce planning is another way to stay ahead of trends, and focus on building and supporting an engaged, productive workforce.

When you take the lead on a collaborate workforce planning effort, you can more readily identify critical links between hiring goals, employee turnover, succession planning and more. That way, you can make sure your talent acquisition strategy is targeted and proactive.


How does workforce planning fit in to your recruiting and retention strategies? Dedicated applicant tracking software like myStaffingPro can help support the way you engage with candidates and employees, from requisition through retention. Contact a representative today.

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