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Implementing a Strategic Workforce Plan - Here’s what you need to know

The need to employ talent management strategies before there’s an unexpected gap is especially important in core departments that depend on highly skilled professionals for long-term stability. By implementing a Strategic Workforce Plan – a long-term blueprint to ensure workforce optimization – you can ensure that your team is built to support your organization’s strategy and culture, and position your business for ongoing success.

A comprehensive plan typically involves the following steps:

Analyze internal resources and prioritize key positions

  • Identify key positions, individuals and skill sets that will have the most business impact during the next two years. Prioritizing your workforce in this way allows you to focus your retention, redeployment and development efforts on the most valuable positions.
  • Map out and understand the employee life cycle (how and where they enter, develop and leave).


Identify talent gaps – understand the strengths and weaknesses of your current team

  • Perform a gap analysis to determine how well your workforce is positioned for the future (consider gaps or excesses in headcount, skills and experience) and evaluate potential solutions to address these.
  • Consider how changes (i.e. technology, outsourcing, organizational structure) that are expected in the next several years will affect volume, type and locations of work and required skill mix.
  • Outline what people, competencies and overall staffing levels will be required to respond to these changes and realize strategic business goals.


Develop a strategic plan to increase the retention of top employees

  • How you treat your employees now will directly affect your employees’ willingness to stay should another opportunity arise. Remember that as demand for certain roles or skill sets increases, so do the number of recruiters targeting your top talent.
  • An effective retention plan first identifies what excites and frustrates your key employees and then outlines a plan for implementing challenge, learning and growth opportunities within your organization.


Attract the best talent – create a compelling company brand and proactively build talent pipelines

  • Anticipate future hiring needs and develop a plan for sourcing and building talent pipelines ahead of time. The result? Better-quality hires in less time and at a lower cost.
  • Create an attractive employer brand with a keen understanding of what job candidates want, from competitive salaries and benefits packages, to work-life balance, autonomy and opportunities for growth.
  • Consider how your overall employer brand manifests itself across departments. While your overall brand should apply company-wide, specific departments may have their own version of the brand that appeals to the local market and the employees you hope to attract.



Optimize your workforce – invest in your employees and increase internal movement

  • Invest in strengthening your team’s competencies and skills to position them as future company leaders.
  • Develop a proactive process for redeploying your top performers and highly skilled individuals out of less critical roles and into business units and jobs where they can have a greater impact.
  • Make sure your top performers are doing what they do best, with the right skill set for the job, with the right tools, resources and motivators and the right manager and team.



Develop a strategic plan to increase the retention of top employees 

  • How you treat your employees now will directly affect your employees’ willingness to stay should another opportunity arise. Remember that as demand for certain roles or skill sets increases, so do the number of recruiters targeting your top talent.
  • An effective retention plan first identifies what excites and frustrates your key employees and then outlines a plan for implementing challenge, learning and growth opportunities within your organization.


While Strategic Workforce Planning may seem like a daunting task at first, it is well worth the competitive edge it can provide for your company. It has the potential to generate labor savings, improve efficiency and productivity, attract high quality employees and strengthen retention rates.

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