Why It Matters: Workforce Planning

Why learn about job analysis, job design, and employment forecasting?

An illustration of an organizational chart.

Workforce planning may seem like a mundane series of tasks, but that is certainly not the case. This is where an organization’s vision and values, where their aspirations and operating realities are accurately embedded or are lost in translation. This is also a process that can either unleash human potential or squander it. Workforce management is simple in theory. Management consulting firm Korn Ferry describes workforce planning as “the practice of mapping an organization’s people strategy with its business strategy so they work in sync,” noting that when executed well it “helps to ensure that organizations have the right workforce, today and tomorrow, at the right cost.”[1]

There is also legal and equity factors to workforce planning. The process establishes a framework that either perpetuates or minimizes the probability of discrimination—that either moderates or increases exposure to legal action. Indeed, there are many points of failure in the workforce planning process and the effects are compounded by reliance on those findings for recruiting, selection, compensation and evaluation.

The significance of workforce planning is that it represents an approach to human resource management that is grounded in business strategy, legally and operationally valid and reflects market realities. Financial Express notes that “organizational success depends on having the right employees with the right competencies at the right time. Workforce planning provides managers the means of identifying the competencies needed in the workforce not only in the present, but also in the future and then selecting and developing that workforce. Finally, workforce planning allows organizations to address systematically issues that are driving workforce change.”[2]

In this module, we’ll discuss the workforce planning process broadly, including the relationship between business strategy and workforce planning, the process of workforce planning and job analysis, associated deliverables including workforce development plans and job descriptions and the concept of job design.

  1. "The Right Workforce, Today and Tomorrow." Korn Ferry Institute. May 31, 2016. Accessed September 10, 2019.
  2. "The Importance of Workforce Planning." Financial Express. March 19, 2006. Accessed September 10, 2019.