Buck Bond Group

The 5 pillars of workforce planning. Pillar 4: Defining the Workforce Plan

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Crafting the plan

In our last post we spoke about developing the business case for our workforce plan. Going forward HR decisions should be based on the needs of the business and syncing your business case around the organizational goals should become standard operating procedure.

This process once completed takes us up the ladder to Pillar Number 4, which is Defining the Workforce Plan.

We have gone through the 3 steps below:

  1. Strategic Planning Alignment
  2. Identifying Workforce Gaps
  3. Making the Business Case

Now we can begin the formulation of the plan. The steps needed to successfully craft the plan are:

  • Understand and document the workforce drivers
  • Evaluate alternative strategies to fill critical gaps
  • Develop policies to transform/engage current workforce

These steps taken as a unit will allow for the structuring of a plan that works.

Define your workforce drivers

  • Improving productivity
  • Mitigating risk
  • Improving readiness and agility
  • Saving cost
  • Innovation
  • Executing strategy
  • Being externally accountable

Evaluate alternative strategies to fill critical gaps

The process for closing the gap needs to be strategic and not just reactive. The gap should not just be about short-term requirements to fill positions or skills, but a longer term view of the health of the organization.

The 6Bs

The 6Bs is a decision framework to make the right decisions about acquiring and keeping the right competencies and skill sets in the organization.

  • Buy: Hire contract and contingent employees
  • Build: Internal development
  • Borrow: Consulting, outsourcing, open sourcing
  • Balance: Strategic scenarios calling for different composition of workforce and ways to close the gap
    • Best case
    • Most likely case
    • Worst case
  • Bind: Keep specific talent in the enterprise
  • Bounce: Redeploy or re-skill employees with “old” skill sets

Develop policies to transform/engage current workforce

Engagement is a key leading indicator of success in a high performing culture. If engagement is ignored, it is so at your peril. Without engagement employees are unwilling to invest their human capital in the organization. Engagement is a critical leading indicator of productivity and turnover. Engagement is the extent to which employees believe in what they do, commit to the organization and are willing to spend their best efforts to make the organization successful. Engagement is different than employee satisfaction because it has a behavioral component. Engagement means that employees are not just happy or satisfied, but are doing something to make the organization more successful.

Key Drivers to Engage a Workforce


  • Senior management is sincerely interested in employee well being
  • Organization has a reputation for social responsibility
  • Organization quickly resolves customer concerns
  • Organization encourages innovative thinking


  • Improved my skills and capabilities over the past year
  • Input into decision-making in my own department
  • Set high personal standards for myself
  • Have excellent career advancement opportunities
  • Enjoy challenging work assignments that broaden skills
  • Foster a good &nbvrelationship with my supervisor

There is a lot of discussion in organizations today, specifically among HR and talent management professionals as to what constitutes workforce planning. There are some that say it’s mostly an administrative activity that reports on historical changes to headcount and forecasts likely changes based on historical trends (i.e., headcount planning). To others, it is a more strategic effort designed to forecast talent needs, talent supply, and the ability of existing HR programs and activities to align the two.

The more strategic variant looks at both internal and external trends and predicts what will be needed to recruit, develop and redeploy “just the right amount” of talent to meet specified business needs.

Our model here at Buck stresses the strategic variant.

In our next post we close out our model with the Operational Workforce Plan which takes a look at HR programs and processes within the plan and the monitoring of the process. Stay Tuned.