Human resources planning is the core of an effective business. Read any popular business book on running a successful company, like Good to Great, and you will see success comes from having the right people, using them effectively, and treating them right. People in your organization take the actions that differentiate the business, create products, serve customers, and influence the business’s profitability. Creating plans to utilize, staff, manage, and reinforce your human resources team makes the difference in successful business execution.

Starting Point: Strategic Roadmap

The foundation of who you are and what you stand for, once defined, does not change much. Likewise, before human resources planning can take place, organizations must first clearly define these qualities along with why they exist and how they will compete in the market. Having this roadmap results in purpose and objectives that guide human resources.

Your business vision (the next mountain you plan to climb) and business strategies (how you will get there) change constantly. In the words of philosopher Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Organizations must constantly adjust their business strategies and priorities to best fulfill their purpose and achieve their desired objectives. Breaking business strategy into clearly defined objectives, actions, and steps from departments to individuals ensures ownership and accountability. Aligning people practices and HR plans with strategic roadmaps will incorporate plans into your cultures and the actions of your employees – ensuring implementation.

HR Planning / People Planning

HR Planning brings into line people practices and human resources functions that support and achieve the organization’s highest priorities, strategy, and objectives. Plans must address questions and desired actions in the following key areas:

  1. Staffing – How many employees and which skills are needed to support your business plan? Who can be promoted from within? Which positions will be hired from the outside and how will you find them?  What turnover do you expect and how will you deal with it? What staffing formulas help determine the right number of employees for each position? Do you have succession backup plans for key positions, and have you started developing new executives? Do you have clearly defined lines of authority and organization charts to help employees know who is who in the organization? Are any changes needed in your onboarding/orientation process to get employees up-to-speed quickly and clear about business strategy?
  2. Performance – Departments and individuals must clearly define their targeted performance plans and expectations to achieve overall business plans and objectives. What department and team objectives must be achieved? How will you make sure objectives align with business strategy? What must each individual achieve in order to reach department objectives? What are the key performance indicators for the department and each individual? Has anyone’s job or job description changed? How and when will feedback be given? How will performance be tracked and measured? How will performance results be shared? How will performance be reinforced? How will you handle performance challenges and non-performers?
  3. People Utilization – Do you need to utilize employees’ talents, skills and abilities differently to achieve desired business plans? Should roles and responsibilities change? What new innovations, products, or services are needed? How can you use your people to differentiate yourself from the competition? What culture, perception, or attitude changes are needed?
  4. People Development & Training – What employee training and development is needed to achieve desired plans? Will training and development take place internally or do you bring in outside resources? When, how, and for whom will training take place?  
  5. Communications – How will you communicate business strategy and priorities to employees? How will you get employee buy-in and support? What ongoing communication will take place to celebrate success and reinforce desired results and behavior? What information will be shared? What meetings will occur to coordinate and ensure execution of business plans?  
  6. Systems & Policy – Do any policies, procedures, or practices need to change to be support and align with business strategy? Do you have clearly defined practices and accountability for all key business needs? What new computer software is needed?
  7. Compensation – Do you need to change any of your base pay, commissions, or bonus plans to better support your business strategy? What are the new bonus and incentive targets and rewards? What changes need to occur in pay practices to drive desired results and expectations? What are your base pay plans and budget? How will base pay increases be implemented to reward and reinforce strategy?  
  8. Rewards & Recognition – How will you reward and recognize desired behaviors and results to reinforce key strategy achievements? Do you have formal and informal recognition programs and budgets in place to empower leaders and employees with the ability to recognize and reinforce? What changes to existing program needs to occur?
  9. Leadership – Do leaders, at all levels within the organization, clearly support business plans with their actions and words? Are responsibilities, deadlines, and goals clear? How will leaders communicate expectations and hold employees accountable for the achievement of business plans and overall performance? What training is needed for leaders?

Human resources planning is essential for organizations to execute desired business plans. Creating clearly defined reasons for existence, a vision of the desired direction, and a strategy of how the company will get there sets the direction for HR planning.

HR plans in staffing, performance, how people will be utilized, training, communications, systems, compensation, rewards, and leadership help ensure overall success. Planning is not a onetime exercise. Managing and adjusting within these key areas should occur throughout the year ensuring success of desired business plans.