What is workforce planning?

Workforce planning is an important component of business planning. It involves:

  • identifying the skills, capability and capacity of your current workforce;
  • forecasting the skills, capacity and capability of the workforce you will need to meet your future business goals;
  • identifying any ‘gap’ between your current workforce and your projected future workforce needs;
  • using this collective information to identify and plan actions you will need to take to fill any ‘gaps’ between the two workforces; and
  • documenting these actions in a workforce action plan.

Taking a little time to engage in some workforce planning now can get you and your business a few steps ahead for the future.

Why do workforce planning?

Workforce planning can help you attract, recruit, train, motivate, manage and retain your employees, so that you have 'the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time'. Developing a Workforce action plan is a key component of your business planning.

Growth, decline or changes in a range of factors can affect workforce requirements. Many businesses find they need to undertake workforce planning for one or more of the reasons shown here.

Growth in: Decline in: Changes in:
  • Sales demand (local, interstate or international)
  • New markets
  • New products/services
  • Available pool of of potential employees
  • Sales demand from existing clients
  • Number of new clients
  • Market preferences
  • Competitors
  • The economy (local, interstate or international)
  • Technology and equipment
  • Productivity
  • Job requirements
  • Finance costs


Workforce planning in action

Your Workforce action plan will be informed by the outcomes of your workforce planning. This action plan will guide the specific workforce areas that you need to target to optimise your current and future workforce and the workforce processes and activities that you will need to put into place.

For example, your workforce action plan may reflect a need to attract new employees and up-skill your existing employees, or perhaps your business has difficulty retaining employees for the long term and your action plan has identified employee retention as an area that needs your attention.

Case studies and useful resources

These case studies are examples of how workforce planning has been put in place by businesses.

The Workforce planning health check can help you assess the state of your own workforce planning.

WA Business Assist is a group of qualified consultants who can help small to medium sized businesses with workforce planning.

Find more information on the WA Business Assist website