What is workforce planning?

Workforce planning or human resource (HR) planning involves analysing:

  • your current staffing situation
  • skills gaps
  • potential vulnerabilities in your workforce such as productivity or turnover.

Benefits of workforce planning

Common reasons for workforce planning include:

  • struggling with your business's workload
  • changing your operations based on regulatory changes, market changes or new technology
  • poor staff performance
  • achieving business growth.

1. Your current staffing situation

The first step in workforce planning is to look at what staff and skills you already have. Good HR records should help you gather this information.

If you don't have this information at hand, you can conduct staff surveys or talk to your staff.

Ask the following questions to determine your current staffing situation:

  • What are your employees' characteristics – for example, age, salary, who they report to?
  • What skills do you have in your business?
  • What's the rate of workforce growth or decline over time?
  • What's your staff turnover rate?
  • How would you rate your workers' satisfaction in their roles?

2. What's best for your business

Think about the design of your organisational structure. Usually inefficiencies can be traced back to poor organisational design.

Effective organisational design creates an environment where people can work and communicate efficiently.

Before you hire new staff, consider the:

  • skills your business needs and already has
  • potential costs
  • arrangements that best fit your resources
  • options for broadening your search.

Look for skills gaps

Make sure you've carefully analysed the needs of your business:

  • Would your business be significantly hurt if you couldn't find someone to fill the job?
  • Does one of your employees already have the skills you need but isn't using them in their role?

Consider the unexpected costs of hiring

Consider the costs of hiring someone new. This doesn't just mean wages and entitlements. You'll also need to think about:

  • turnover (and the potential for long-term vacancies if the job isn't well thought-out)
  • loss of training
  • inexperience.

Suitable employment arrangements

Think about your resources and the kind of commitment you're able to offer a new staff member:

  • Will your resources change in 3 to 5 years? If so, how are you planning for it?
  • Will the role be full-time, part-time or casual?
  • Can you offer flexible working arrangements?

Options for potential employees

Consider upskilling existing workers and taking on new entrants to the workforce and training them.

When you're ready to hire, be sure to look at the following services:

  • Restart Program offers incentives for employing people aged 50 or older.
  • Jobs Victoria provides targeted support services for people looking for work and for employers looking for workers.

3. Your future staffing needs

Once you've identified your business needs and profiled your current workforce, you can get your workforce to meet your business goals.

4. Create a P&P manual

Tailor a policies and procedures (P&P) document that will ensure your staff will fit your workforce plan.