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What Is Workforce Planning?

An effective workforce plan is an essential tool to identify appropriate workload staffing levels
and justify budget allocations so that organizations can meet their objectives.

Workforce planning has many definitions. For purposes of this guide, we have adopted the
following common definition:

Workforce planning is a systematic process for identifying the human capital required to meet
agency goals and developing the strategies to meet these requirements.

This definition covers what many consider to be the key elements of workforce planning. The
National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), an organization chartered by Congress to
improve government at all levels, broke the definition down in its May 2000 document titled
Building Successful Organizations: A Guide to Strategic Workforce Planning. According to
NAPA, workforce planning involves:

• A systematic process that is integrated, methodical, and ongoing.

• Identifying the human capital required to meet agency goals, which consists of
determining the number and skills of needed workers and where and when they will
be needed.
• Developing the strategies to meet these requirements, which involves identifying
actions that must be taken to attract (and retain) the number and types of workers the
agency needs.

In other words, effective workforce planning is a continuous process that ensures an agency
has the right number of people in the right jobs at the right time.

Workforce analysis is the process of aligning your workforce planning efforts with current and
future business requirements and forecasting staffing needs based on assumptions of retirement
and turnover. This phase involves gathering and analyzing specific information about staffing
levels, skill sets and competencies needed in your workforce. The analysis process consists of
three steps: supply, demand and gap analysis. It is the process of looking at your current talent
supply, projecting demands for the future, and realizing potential gaps and surpluses in order to
enable action planning to eliminate the gaps.

There is a variety of sources that can be used to collect needed and valuable information. It is
recommended that workforce analytics be used as well as on-going dialogue with managers and
supervisors. You may wish to consider structured interviews or focus groups to begin the process
of gathering information, and understanding specific needs and challenges. The involvement of
managers and supervisors is critical, as they are the eyes and ears of an organization and are a
source of valuable information.

Environmental Factors

Identify internal and external environmental factors that will impact decisions such as legislative
changes, agency initiatives, budget trends and patterns, etc.

How will your workforce be different in five years?

• Which generations will still be working? Which will be retiring? Which will be
coming into the workforce? What are the characteristics of each of these
• How will the racial and ethnic backgrounds differ from today?
• How will educational backgrounds be different?
• Will future employees require different competencies?

Step 1: Scan the environment: S.W.O.T. Analysis

• Do an environmental scan then examine the Strengths, Weaknesses,

Opportunities and Threats that were identified for both internal and external

• Identify both internal and external environmental factors that will affect the
agency. The environmental scan should address both short-term and long-
term workforce planning needs.

• External factors/forces, may include:

• Demographics, economics, technology, political, legal, cultural factors

• Internal factors/forces, may include:

• Current workforce skills, retirement patterns, demographic profiles of current

employees, agency’s culture and philosophy