Getting Started

What is Workforce Planning?

Workforce planning is the process of analyzing, forecasting and planning workforce supply and demand, assessing gaps, and determining targeted talent management interventions to ensure that an organization has the right people – with the right skills in the right places at the right time – to fulfill its mandate and strategic objectives.

Workforce planning is composed of six phases:

  1. Strategic Direction
  2. Supply Analysis
  3. Demand Analysis
  4. Gap Analysis
  5. Solution Implementation
  6. Monitoring Progress

Why do Workforce Planning?

When properly implemented, workforce planning ensures an organization has the right people with the right skills in the right places at the right time. These factors, people, skills, positions, and timing, need to be aligned to ensure your organization is able to continue to meet its mission.

What are the benefits of Workforce Planning?

As you develop your business case for workforce planning, it is important to discuss the tangible benefits workforce planning can have on your organization to engage business leaders and emphasize the value of this effort. The more tangible and relevant the benefits are to your specific organization, the stronger your business case. If you are having trouble thinking of benefits specific to your organization, think instead of what might happen if you do not take action. When properly implemented, workforce planning can:

  • Identify staffing levels and competencies required to support both short- and long-term strategies and goals to minimize the chance of workforce misalignment.
  • Address gaps between the current and desired future workforce and defines these talent surpluses and shortages.
  • Align the workforce with business plans to appropriately target and prioritize skill requirements and transition strategies.
  • Support organizational change efforts and create a roadmap to achieve an ideal future workforce.

Not sure where to begin with workforce planning? There are two common paths when getting started:

Path 1: Unidentified Needs

Workforce planning needs are not currently defined or identified by a leader or sponsor. Try these four steps to identify what workforce planning activities may be best for your IC or current project needs.

1. Identify the Workforce Planning Sponsor(s), and Customer(s), and Prepare for a meeting to discuss priorities and needs.

Use the How-To Guide: Conducting a Customer Needs Assessment to help guide you, as needed.

Here are some key things to consider as you identify the sponsor(s) and identify the customer(s).

  • SPONSOR: the parties who lead or are responsible for workforce planning in your Institute/Center, or for a specified workforce planning need or current project. The sponsor should be an individual who can articulate the need for workforce planning, who can influence and direct desired outcomes, and who can provide information that will assist practitioners with prioritizing activities (e.g. Executive Officer, Division/Program/Branch Head that seeks workforce planning in his/her unit, or for some ICs, the sponsor will also be the primary customer).
  • CUSTOMER: who had the workforce planning need. Be sure to define what does success look likes for the customer.

2. Conduct a Workforce Planning Assessment with your IC Workforce Planning Sponsor or Project Sponsor.

During or before your meeting with the identified workforce planning sponsor, walk through the statements in the Workforce Planning Status Assessment tool or request that the sponsor fill it out ahead of time to determine where the sponsor may wish to see improvement in status across the various workforce planning activities listed.

3. Create the Business Case for Workforce Planning for your specific project.

During the meeting with your sponsor, walk through and request answers to the questions in the Business Case for Workforce Planning Template, or listen for answers to the included questions as your sponsor discusses the problem, needs and desired outcomes

4. Create a Strategic Workforce Plan.

Review the Strategic Workforce Plan template to develop a deeper understanding of the level of effort and resources required to complete your project or IC’s plan, and begin!

Questions? Contact the NIH Workforce Planning to speak with a practitioner in the NIH Workforce Planning Community of Practice about how to get started.

Path 2: Needs Known

A current workforce planning-related challenge or problem statement is known/specified. There is a known, specific workforce planning need. If that is the case, browse the FAQs to see if your need/challenge is represented. For each FAQ, a recommended next step and/or corresponding tool is listed. If you do not see your need/challenge represented in the FAQs, contact the NIH Workforce Planning to speak with a practitioner in the NIH Workforce Planning Community of Practice.

The following tools have been carefully selected as the most relevant to the initial steps to address workforce planning needs.

Tools to Get Started