The Secrets of Successful Workforce Planning

A significant segment of our workforce is becoming eligible for retirement as birth rates are at an all-time low. Add to that a wave of uncertain budget and economic conditions in our future, and we’ve got a combination that presents a very real challenge for public and private industry. Let’s explore how workforce planning helps us achieve our goals:

  1. Know what to look for – Keep an eye on industry trends and predictions that are likely to impact your organization’s work. Use these insights to determine the needs of your workforce today, in the next fiscal year, and beyond.
  2. Look at what you’ve got – Use assessment tools, evaluations, existing workforce planning documentation, and leadership insights to determine the capabilities and potential of your current workforce.
  3. See what’s missing – Compare future needs to your workforce’s capabilities to reveal gaps.
  4. See where there is excess – As you compare needs to capabilities, you are likely to find that some previously essential skills will no longer be needed, at least in the same capacity, in the future.
  5. Identify rock stars – Determine who, in your current talent pool, has the right mix of knowledge, performance, and motivation to fill gaps.
  6. Draw a roadmap – You know where your organization is and where it needs to go. Now it’s time to determine the best way to reach your destination. Develop a plan that indicates how your current workforce will need to change, where your priorities lie, an estimate of the time required to achieve each milestone and the people who will be responsible for each leg of the journey. And, be sure to build in flexibility to allow for minor detours.
  7. On your mark, get set, go! – As you implement your workforce plan, it is essential that you communicate your actions to your workforce in a positive way. Change can be difficult, but, when individuals understand how and why things are changing, they will be more willing to do their part.
  8. Stay flexible – While your plan may have seemed promising at the start, not everything will work out the way you intended. Don’t be afraid to rework segments of the journey. Your ability to reach your destination is much more important than how you get there.
  9. Understand that change is constant – Once you have completed your initial workforce plan, you might find that some of the predictions you acted on no longer apply. Or, an unexpected event or new trend is now impacting your needs. The adjustment process remains the same. You will periodically need to devise and execute smaller, more flexible plans to address new conditions.
  10. Avoid reinventing the wheel – Getting change management and workforce planning right isn’t easy, but it can be done. Reach out to leaders in other agencies, organizations, or divisions who have managed similar plans. Meet with them, if possible, to discuss their experiences, and review related documentation for guidance.

These basics of successful workforce planning are simple but not easy. Conducting an accurate assessment, creating a strategic workforce development plan, reskilling and upskilling current talent, recruiting new talent, and overcoming obstacles along the way is very challenging. In addition to support and lessons learned from the experiences of your colleagues, you may want to hire professional consultants who can guide you throughout your journey.

Management Concepts has been serving the needs of government for more than 45 years. As workforce needs change, we provide education and services that help agencies and organizations address those needs. In addition to courses about workforce planning, our professional consultants help agencies and organizations assess, plan, implement and evaluate workforce development needs.

Human Capital & Human Resources
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Natalie Komitsky

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