Using a Workforce Planning Template (And a Downloadable Version)

October 27, 2017 by Josh Hrala

When it comes to successfully running a business of any size, you need to have a strong grasp on what your workforce needs to look like to perform at the highest level. This can be challenging as it often involves forecasting into the future, which is why we recommend coming up with a simple, easy-to-use workforce planning template to get started.

Before we jump into what you need to know about workforce planning to make sure your organization performs at the best of its ability, we want to offer you this complementary workforce planning template – also known a ‘manpower planning spreadsheet’ – that you can customize for your needs along the way. You can download it here:

Download our workforce planning template here.

With this template, you’ll be able to follow along below to identify your needs and act accordingly.

Let’s get into it.

First Off, What’s a Workforce Planning Template Used for?

Workforce planning, in a nutshell, is a set of “specific workforce strategies for recruiting, retaining, developing, and managing employees,” reports Washington State’s Office of Financial Management.

In other words, workforce planning is how your employees will be used to meet your business’ goals. This may include figuring out how many employees you need for a project, what skills these employees need to have, and how you will use these employees in a way that utilizes their individual skills to make your business run smoother and more efficiently.

While this all sounds like a simple process, many HR leaders put off workforce planning because it can be a tricky process without a template or stratedgy. In fact, workforce planning is constantly reported as an area of HR that managers want – but fail – to implement year after year, suggesting that many understand the importance of having a plan but fail to actually make one.  

“In today’s talent-based economy, the workforce itself is arguably the most important tangible asset of most organizations. Despite its importance, this asset is often not carefully planned, measured or optimized,” reports the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

“This means that many organizations are not sufficiently aware of the current or future workforce gaps that will limit execution of business strategy. Yet at the same time, boards of directors, CEOs and chief human resources officers will frequently declare that workforce planning and data- driven decision-making is a top priority for their organizations.”

While there are a ton of different reasons why HR managers and business leaders fail to launch successful workforce planning model, one of the biggest reasons is simply that these professionals lack the time needed to sit down and create a proper plan.

workforce planning template

The good news is that there is a way around this: use a workforce planning template. By using a template, you can fill in what your goals are and explore how they will impact your workforce. It’s a rather simple solution to an ongoing HR problem.

With that said, let’s look at how to use a workforce planning template and what sort of questions they can help you answer.

Workforce Planning Template: The Process

Like any tool or service, workforce planning templates aim to align a process with an intended goal.

According to SHRM, this is what the workforce planning process strive to accomplish at a high-level:

  • Align strategic goals with available talent or talent needs
  • Break down this talent pool to understand where you are lacking. It’s best to focus on individual areas to make this easier to follow. Try breaking them up by expense, location, reporting area, etc.
  • Create a reporting system for managers to easily understand where they need to invest in more talent for their future goals.
  • Create metrics so that leaders can easily see talent risk and reward to better plan for future projects and goals.
  • Use these tools and metrics to accurately calculate talent costs, limiting the amount of unforeseen costs.
  • Get away from reactionary talent acquisition. Focus on planned action instead.
  • Share reports early and often to ensure talent decisions are working out, allowing managers to proactively address issues before they get out of control.

With a proper workforce plan on hand, you can accomplish all of these things. And, if the report we cited earlier is correct, having a proper and efficient workforce plan on paper is a giant competitive advantage because few businesses ever enact them even if they really see the benefit of it.

Workforce Planning Template: Break Down Your Goals

In order to use a workforce planning template, you need to break down your goals into easily digestible pieces. If you were to take your whole organization’s goals and attempt to fit it into a single plan, it’d get really confusing really fast.

We suggest you examine all of your goals and break them into chunks ranging by dates because this makes them easier to focus on.

workforce planning template

For example, what are your long term goals, your short term goals, and your immediate goals? When it comes to workforce planning, it’s easy to see how they three areas can be more easily managed.

If you have a deadline coming up that requires a ton of content creation, for example, it stands to reason that you need to hire more content creators or assign content creation to existing staff. The question here is: will you need to constantly create new content? If so, you might want to hire a content specialist who can perform that duty. If not, you might want to bring on a freelancer to fulfill the requirements in the immediate sense.

By understanding how your talent and your goals align, you can make better decisions, allowing you to proactively prepare a plan for your bigger goals and maintain your budget.

It doesn’t make sense, after all, to hire a full-time content creator if you only need them for a few days and it also doesn’t make sense to keep a freelancer onboard for a long term goal. In the end, your talent has to match the need. If it does, you’ll be a step ahead, and if it doesn’t, you’ll likely be wasting money and other resources.

Workforce Planning Template: How to Improve Your Existing Staff

While it may seem like workforce planning is all about hiring and laying off staff members as needed, it’s also a way to see what skills your current staff has and what they can improve upon.

This goes far beyond merely having the right staff. It, instead, finds ways for you to develop current staff members for new roles in the company.

In a recent study by researchers from the American Psychological Association (APA), workers are more concerned with development than ever before. In fact, the study found that many workers who do not feel like they are being developed by their managers say they are likely to leave their current job within the next year.

“Nearly half of American workers are concerned about the changing nature of work, and although most report that they have the skills they need to perform their current job well, those without supervisor support for career development are more likely to distrust their employer and plan on leaving within the next year,” the report claims.

workforce planning template

This is important because many of these workers want to continue working for their companies, however, they see that the demand for their labor is changing. They do not want to become stagnant and redundant. They want to grow and meet new challenges, which means they want to fit into your workforce plan even if they need a bit of development to do so.

“Employee growth and development is a key element of a psychologically healthy workplace, but it’s often overlooked in employers’ workplace well-being efforts,” said David Ballard, head of the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence.

“Our surveys of the U.S. workforce consistently find that training and development is one of the areas employees are least satisfied with. The lack of opportunity for growth and advancement is second only to low pay as a source of work stress. In a rapidly changing work environment, making participation in job-related training and career development activities an expectation and preparing employees for a successful future are one way to protect workers and enhance our nation’s workforce readiness.”

When it comes to your workforce plan, you need to understand this fact because some of your talent needs might be right in front of you.

Workforce Planning Template: Navigate the Ever-Changing Business World

Besides offering you a way to stay on track to hit all of your business’ goals, a workforce planning template can also help you stay current in today’s ever-changing workforce.

Consider this: every day, roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers are hitting the traditional retirement age. This trend – known as the Silver Tsunami – is expected to continue for at least the next decade, meaning that there is a generational shift currently underway in the workforce at large.

While you may have already heard of this statistic, very few organizations are actually doing anything about it.

workforce planning template

“Even though organizations know that the workforce is aging and understand that their own workers are looking at retirement, many are not making plans for how business will adjust to these changes,” reports Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, co-director of the Boston College Center on Aging and Work.

Pitt-Catsouphes and her colleagues examined 578 US-based businesses back in 2007 and found that only 37 percent of companies had a plan on the books to keep members past retirement age despite many organizations claiming that these workers were some of their most valued.

“Companies that do not plan for this aging workforce may find themselves suddenly faced with a loss of labor, experience and expertise that will be difficult to offset given the relatively small pool of new workers and the competition for new talent likely to result from so many companies facing the same problem,” states Mick Smyer, another co-director from the center.

By figuring in these demographics into your workforce planning template, you can easily see how you can handle various problems before they happen. The generational shift is only of the many trends currently dominating the HR space, but proper planning can make you ready to any and all challenges.

Workforce Planning Template: Putting It All Together

We’ve covered a ton of different topics here, and there are still many areas of workforce planning to explore. In short, though, your workforce planning template and overall strategy is to look at what your company’s goals are and align your staff with those goals.

You should look at what tasks your current staff is handling and see if they are itching for further development and new opportunities, which can help with retention and also fix some workforce planning issues at the same time.

Besides keeping your business on track talent wise, a workforce planning template can help you better prepare for large shifts in the workforce at large. For example, with Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, you have to make sure you have a plan of action in place to either retain them longer or develop new talent to take their place. You can learn more about this specific issue here.

Also, it’s important to remember that seemingly all HR departments want to utilize workforce planning but many of them never get around to it. This means that with a proper plan, you can seriously give yourself a competitive advantage.

Interested in implementing your our plan? Download our free workforce planning template here:

Download Our Workforce Planning Template!
Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

In need of outplacement assistance?

At Careerminds, we care about people first. That’s why we offer personalized talent management solutions for every level at lower costs, globally.

Speak with an Expert

Log In Contact Us