How to make your strategic staff planning a success!

In this article, we explore effective methods for achieving successful strategic staff planning. It provides actionable insights and strategies to enhance workforce planning processes and meet organizational goals efficiently.

When you start looking for new hires to fill existing vacancies, it’s referred to as ‘reactive recruitment’. But by implementing ‘strategic staff planning’, you recruit pro-actively, anticipating future vacancies. This article discusses how to do just that.

So what is strategic staff planning exactly? Copied

Strategic staff planning focuses on predicting your organization’s staffing requirements. Not just for a seasonal peak in production, but for the longer term.

By analyzing the market in general and your organization in particular, you can start making strategic decisions about how to keep staffing levels, skills, and competences aligned with future operational objectives. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to optimize your staffing levels, today and tomorrow!

But why implement strategic staff planning? Copied

It’s smart to look ahead – at both organizational and individual levels. These are some of the biggest wins you can score by implementing strategic staff planning.

  • Keep pace with market developments. Roles and responsibilities are evolving rapidly. For example, in the past ten years, automation, digitalization, and robotization have replaced jobs that now no longer exist. With strategic staff planning, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the game and anticipate any changes.
  • Align strategic objectives more closely. If your organization is planning to branch out into new areas in the near future, strategic staff planning will help you keep staffing levels, skills, and competences more closely aligned with your organizational objectives. What’s more, you’ll be able to start your recruiting efforts on time!
  • Spot over- and understaffing levels more quickly. Strategic staff planning helps you pinpoint departmental understaffing or overstaffing not only now, but also in the future. This will help you maximize productivity and minimize labor costs.
  • Map skills and competences. Strategic staff planning helps you map out and identify the skills and competences you’ll need to continue operating successfully in the future. This also provides keen insights into creating targeted training programs and recruitment drives.
  • Reduce staff turnover. Once armed with a long-term strategy, you’ll be able to help your staff upskill and reskill in a more targeted fashion. This benefits your staff in terms of longer-term employability and your organization in terms of reduced turnover levels. What’s more, you retain valuable knowledge in-house and maintain higher employee satisfaction levels.

4 steps to making a strategic staffing plan Copied

1. Map out your current workforce

Before looking to the future, it’s important to benchmark where you are right now. Make a list of all your organization’s staff and ask yourself the following questions.

  • How many people do you have in employment?
  • What roles and responsibilities do they perform?
  • Which teams and departments do they work in?
  • What skills, competences, and qualifications do they have already and/or still need to acquire?
  • How old are they? Are they approaching retirement?
  • Who are the high performers, and who are the low performers?
  • Which positions are currently still vacant? Which skills and competences are needed to fill these positions?

2. Gain clearer insights into staffing requirements

Most organizations only look at who they need right now. We refer to this as ‘reactive’. With strategic staff planning, we look further ahead. But there are several factors involved in doing this effectively.

  • long-term organizational objectives
    • current & longer-term turnover forecasts
    • pending mergers and/or acquisitions
    • new products and/or services being planned
    • new company sites or relocations being planned
  • workforce trend analyses for past few years
    • staff turnover levels
    • employees approaching retirement
    • skills, competences & qualifications
    • average employment duration
    • promotions
    • demographics
  • market trends & developments
    • economic upturns/downturns
    • technological innovation
    • unemployment rates
    • competition

By collecting and analyzing all this information, you’ll gain a better feel for where you are right now and where you’ll need to be in the future. And subsequently who you’ll need to recruit, upskill, or reskill, and what skills they’ll need to have.

3. Compare current and future staffing levels and requirements

By comparing your current and future workforce needs, you’ll be able to determine how many staff you’ll need in the coming years and what skills will be relevant and important. We refer to this as a ‘gap analysis’.

4. Create a staffing plan

Armed with all this information, you’ll be able to create your plan for the next few years. Your plan needs to answer questions such as these:

  • Which roles and positions will need to be filled?
  • Which roles and positions will no longer be needed?
  • Can we reskill or upskill existing staff members?
  • Which skills and competences are we missing altogether?
  • How will we tackle retirements and promotions?


Tips & pointers Copied

1. Adopt a dynamic approach

Everything’s connected and related when viewed from a strategic staff planning perspective – both internally and externally. And some things are simply outside your sphere of control or influence. So don’t view strategic staff planning as a one-off exercise, but more as a ‘work in progress’ – continually evolving and adapting in response to new developments or information. Use it as a compass, not as a straitjacket!

2. Refer to your plan when recruiting

When you implement strategic staff planning, you develop a vision for your organization’s future. Such a vision is highly appealing to potential new employees, so communicate this vision to candidates throughout the recruitment and selection process. This not only helps you work out who you want to employ, but also makes it easier to convince them to come work for you.

3. Use skills matrices

Skills and competences are an important part of strategic staff planning. And nothing makes these clearer than skills matrices. Skills matrices provide a snapshot of all your staff’s or teams’ skills, competences, and qualifications in a schematic layout.

Using skills matrices has numerous benefits for strategic staff planning …

  • View all your staff’s current skills, competences, and qualifications at a glance.
  • See which competences are available, scarce, or missing.
  • And adjust your training and/or recruitment efforts accordingly.


Using special-purpose skills management software, you can accurately map, view, and update your staff’s skills, competences, and qualifications in real time.

Schedule a free demo to find out how skills management software would benefit your organization!

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Original version | December 7, 2021

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