Human Resources Strategic Planning: an Introductory Guide

When thinking about the future of your company, there are plenty of variables that will affect your productivity and profitability, the most valuable of which is the skilled employees that make up your team. By developing a human resources plan, you can properly strategize, utilize and maintain the members of your staff. This article explains what human resources planning is, lists the steps to develop an HR plan, details some of the challenges that the process presents and answers frequently asked questions.


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What is human resources planning? 

Sometimes referred to as HRP or workforce planning, human resource planning is a continuous process of forward-thinking that allows an organization to properly utilize and maintain their most valuable asset: skilled and effective employees. Companies use these plans to accommodate various tasks and goals, such as:


  • Promoting or releasing employees from their positions
  • Effectively dealing with conflict and unexpected employee absences
  • Reaching and attracting skilled employees to join the team
  • Choosing, training and rewarding ideal candidates

Though the process of human resource planning can be tedious, it is a valuable investment that ultimately allows companies to remain profitable as well as productive. Human resource plans offer countless benefits, such as:


  • They help match employees with appropriate tasks while simultaneously avoiding labor surpluses or shortages.
  • HR planning helps organizations consistently keep skilled employees.
  • The process assists companies as they evaluate their needs, which then allows them to create a plan to facilitate those needs.

Related: How to Hire a Human Resources Manager


How to develop a human resources plan

Here are some steps to guide you as you develop a human resources plan for your organization:


  1. Assess the organizational objectives
  2. Evaluate the current HR capacity
  3. Forecast future workforce requirements
  4. Conduct a gap analysis
  5. Develop a plan that supports the organization’s strategies
  6. Implement and integrate the plan


1. Assess the organizational objectives

In order to plan the staffing that your organization will require in the future, you’ll first need to analyze the overall objectives of the company in terms of expansion, sales, finance, marketing and production.


2. Evaluate the current HR capacity

Next, you will need to create a catalog of your company’s current supply of human resources. In other words, create a list of your employees that identifies their performance levels, benefits, positions, qualifications and skills. If your company uses a human resource information system, most of this information will already be gathered in one place. Once the information is compiled, you can analyze the data in order to assess the company’s ability to fulfill certain job requirements. 


3. Forecast future workforce requirements

While taking into consideration variables like transfers, turnover, retirements and promotions, the HR department must try to outline the labor and skills needed to satisfy certain tasks. They do this by matching a person’s profile with a job that they would be well-suited for.


4. Conduct a gap analysis

The next step in the process of human resource planning utilizes the forecasting of the company’s employment demand that was completed in the previous step. A gap analysis is created in order to detail the specific needs of the company and then compare the labor supply to future demand. This analysis will allow HR professionals to decide if employees are well-suited in their current roles, if the company needs more managers and if more training is required for the current staff.


5. Develop a plan that supports the organization’s strategies

Now that you have gathered and analyzed the data, you can create a plan that will help the company meet its needs and reach its goals. Here are some examples of strategies that you may decide on:


  • Restructuring to increase efficiency
  • Training of current staff
  • Recruitment of new employees
  • Outsourcing certain tasks to external resources
  • Collaboration with another company


6. Implement and integrate the plan

Once a plan has been formulated, it is time to execute it. This process requires collaboration from all departments and employees. After the plan has been implemented, you will need to closely monitor its effectiveness by continuously troubleshooting and addressing any discrepancies.

Related: How to Hire a HR Generalist


Challenges of human resource planning

Though there are many benefits for developing a clear human resources strategy, it does come with some challenges, such as:


  • The process is costly and time-consuming. Though human resource planning provides countless benefits, it does require a lot of time, making it a fairly expensive process.

  • Effective planning requires current and accurate data. If the company lacks a comprehensive human resource information system that is reliable and up to date, then it will be very difficult to accurately predict and plan for the future of the company’s workforce.

  • Unpredictable changes affect planning. There are many unpredictable factors that can affect the planning process, such as market fluctuations, technological changes, seasonal employment, employee turnover and absenteeism.

  • Employee resistance can make it difficult to implemen.: Some employees may struggle to adopt the new plan because of the alterations that they experience to their tasks and overall workload.

  • Forecasting can lead to inaccurate information. Human resource planning is heavily dependent on forecasting, which is an imperfect process. 


FAQs about human resources plans

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding human resource planning:


What is a human resource strategy? 

A human resource strategy is an organization’s comprehensive, long-term plan for managing and maintaining an effective team of staff members to ensure that they are aligned with the company’s values and overall strategies. In turn, this guides all aspects of the human resources department.


What are the 6 steps for creating an HR plan? 

Though the number and verbiage varies depending on the resource you are looking at, there are six basic steps of human resource planning:

  1. Evaluate the future plans of the company
  2. Take an inventory of the current state of human resources within your company
  3. Predict the supply and demand of your staff
  4. Estimate gaps in manpower
  5. Create an actionable human resource plan
  6. Implement and monitor the plan


What is a human resources mission statement?

Human resource strategies often result in the creation of an HR mission statement that defines the plans of the organization and the role that the human resources department will play to reach those goals. In other words, the mission statement outlines the decisions and practices that the department will take part in.

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