The Process of Human Resources Planning

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the process of human resource planning

Photograph of five people sitting around a table. They are all looking at a large monitor at the front of the table. Each person has a notebook or laptop.On a functional level, human resource management is responsible for developing human capital strategies that align with the organization’s mission, goals and objectives. Human capital planning—often characterized as a roadmap—generally has a 3–5 year timeframe. Human Resource strategy sets the direction for all the key areas of HR, including hiring, performance management, compensation and training and development.

The U.S Office of Personnel Management describes human capital strategic planning as the method by which human resource management “designs a coherent framework of human capital policies, programs, and practices to achieve a shared vision integrated with the [organization’s] strategic plan.”[1]

Personnel Management’s planning guide identifies the following essential elements:

  • A clearly understood strategic direction
  • Customer and stakeholder human capital management outcomes/goals
  • Strategies/objectives for accomplishing the goals
  • An implementation plan
  • A communication/change management plan, if needed
  • An accountability system

Developing a strategic direction requires a detailed understanding of the organization’s strategic plan and objectives, budgetary constraints, current workforce characteristics, key senior management and stakeholder perceptions regarding human resource challenges and requirements and internal and external factors driving human capital needs. The conceptual objective is to develop a vision of the future workforce. The implementation plan is a roadmap as well as a framework for transforming culture and operations. The accountability system establishes how success will be measured and tracked, information that is essential for measuring and evaluating performance and for monitoring progress towards objectives.

The guide recommends that data collection support the identification of key themes associated with any gaps between the current and desired workforce and related human capital functions. These themes become the broad human capital goals and are the building blocks of the plan. For example, talent, performance management and leadership might be themes that will be translated into goals. Goals would be developed to address the gap and specific objectives would be identified to support achievement of the goal. Implementation plans are developed with varying levels of detail but at an operational level, should identify the specific actions required, who is responsible, what resources are required and the completion timeframe.

Practice Question

U.S. Government Accountability Office

For perspective, here’s an excerpt from the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) 2013–2015 Human Capital Plan:[2]

Performance Goal: Strengthen recruiting and hiring initiatives to attract a diverse workforce.

Human Capital Initiatives:

  • Improve recruitment program by expanding efforts to maintain relationships with colleges, universities, and pipeline and professional organizations through participating in virtual outreach efforts, hosting representatives from partner institutions, and inviting candidates to visit GAO.
  • Build annual recruitment plans based on analysis of data from prior years, with consideration to GAO’s workforce diversity plan, budget, and workforce planning needs.
  • Monitor hiring process data and compare this data to established goals.
  • Offer incentives where needed for positions that are hard to fill to help recruit and retain staff with critical skills.

Quantitative Measures (Accountability)

  • Meet or exceed established benchmarks to maintain a diverse workforce.
  • Meet the 80-day goal (+/− 1 percent) for the hiring process.
  • Meet the new hire target established in GAO’s performance and accountability report

  1. "Human Resources Management in Agencies; Final Rule." Office of Personnel Management. April 28, 2008. Accessed July 30, 2019.
  2. "GAO's Human Capital Strategic Plan 2013-2015." United States Government Accountability Office. 2013. Accessed July 30, 2019.