Human Resource Planning

Human resource planning allows companies to maximize their investments in quality talent. In today’s employment paradigm, companies around the world struggle to fill important roles with the right candidates and retain top talent. Human resource planning equips companies to meet these challenges by anticipating industry needs and worker supply to maintain a steady flow of top-notch applicants and employees. Be warned, however, that there are considerable difficulties in human resource planning—some of which may seem surprising. To get a better idea of the ins and outs of human resource planning, read on!

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What is Human Resource Planning?

Simply put, strategic human resource planning refers to the process of evaluating a company’s future needs and planning to make sure those needs are met. The human resource planning process can be challenging, with companies often weighing short-term staffing needs against long-term goals. Because the business environment can change unexpectedly (i.e. covid, which some organizations handled far better than others), companies’ HR staff must remain flexible and diligent when implementing human resource planning.

Why is Human Resource Planning Important?

As previously mentioned, the strategic human resource planning process can save companies from turnover turmoil and loss of morale during tumultuous times. The right set of technical skills and soft skills is not always an easy balance to find in company candidates. Awareness of the potential shortcomings and intimate needs of each position allows managers to train and develop their workforce as effectively as possible. Failures to properly implement human resource planning can therefore lead to a variety of difficulties down the line.

For instance, if corporate training practices don’t emphasize anticipated needs, then the human resource planning process falls short. Likewise, if evaluating tools for employees and candidates aren’t accurate, it can be challenging to get a clear read on work supply and company strengths and weaknesses. Maintaining employee satisfaction is also one of the difficulties in human resource planning. Ensuring that year-end surveys are relevant to company needs and provide employees a safe space to speak honestly, for example, can pay dividends in the future.

Human Resource Planning Process

The human resource planning process consists of the following four steps:

  1. Analyze the current labor supply

Who are you currently employing? Does any role need to be expanded, or has a role become obsolete? What are the strengths of your current group of employees and what can be improved?

  1. Forecast labor demand

What will be the company’s biggest needs from its workers? What skills will be most important given the company’s direction and industry demands? What does the company anticipate regarding layoffs, retirements, promotions, transfers, etc?

  1. Balance projected labor demand with supply

Who in the current pool of employees possesses the right skills? Is this enough to meet anticipated demand, or do recruiting initiatives need to focus on developing said skills? Does new technology influence the labor demand, and how so? Does the company need more of a certain type of employee, such as managers? Within the current employee force, is each role suited to each employee’s individual strengths?

  1. Develop plans that align with organizational goals

What recruitment and/or upskilling strategies can be employed to meet anticipated demand while moving the company towards its biggest goals? What does the budget look like for these plans? How will the plan be implemented? Who needs to collaborate to make these plans a success?

Shouldn’t be that hard, right? If you think this way, however, you’d be mistaken. There are quite a few difficulties in human resource planning processes. Let’s explore those in the human resource plan example below.

Human Resource Plan Example

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with some of the theoretical components of the human resource planning process, let’s delve into a more concrete human resource plan example.

Imagine a regional cable company, with 3,000 employees and an ever-changing digital landscape. For example, the meteoric rise of streaming services surpassing cable use amongst young adults. The company has some challenging decisions to make. If they change their marketing strategy, they may need to hire a larger marketing team. If they change their services, they may need to lay off or promote employees or hire new talent. If the demand for cable is decreasing, what must the company do to survive and thrive?

From the perspective of human resource planning, a thorough analysis of the situation paired with a detailed 4-step plan will likely put this company on the right track. If the company stays its course, maybe a few moves need to be made. If it changes course, major plans need to be put in place to anticipate the future.


Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is human resource planning?”, hopefully you are sold on the importance of developing a strategic human resource planning process. Seeking the right candidates to fill roles that align with a company’s present needs while anticipating future needs is much more difficult without the strategic toolbox offered by human resource planning.


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Filed Under: Consulting skills, Leadership & Management