Levels of Workforce Planning

Generally, there are two types of workforce planning: strategic and operational.

Strategic Workforce Planning

Strategic workforce planning looks at system-wide issues and strategies to:

  • Support the organization’s strategic plan (e.g., reorganization and redeployment).
  • Address external workforce factors that affect the entire business (e.g., succession planning for retirement bubbles, or staff reduction planning for budget cuts).
  • Maintain organizational capacity (e.g., in-service training).
  • Mitigate risk exposure (e.g., safety planning and Equal Employment Opportunity training).

The right management level at which to conduct strategic workforce planning depends on the size of the organization, how it is structured, and how programs are managed and budgeted. Most strategic planning occurs at the senior-leadership level. However, employers may also plan at the division, region, or program level. Employers should plan in a way that makes sense for their business.

Operational Workforce Planning

Operational workforce planning looks at work-unit issues, and occurs at the supervisor level. The focus is on how to sustain the work unit’s ability to execute business strategies. Planning at this level may involve both carrying out the organization’s strategic workforce planning strategies, and responding to external workforce factors that impact a particular unit.

Additional resources for supervisors and others interested in operational workforce planning may be found in the Supervisors' Guide to Developing Operational Workforce Plans (PDF file).

Workforce Planning Guide