Workforce planning (WFP) ensures that “the right people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time.” Most organizations do some form of workforce planning, although in most cases the approach is a very basic look at supply and demand. This approach has only short-term value, and organizations need an approach that looks strategically to the future. Workforce planning goes beyond a simple supply and demand “staffing plan,” or a funding versus cost analysis, and identifies human resource needs based on internal and external factors and the impacts each has upon the other.
A strategic approach to workforce planning is a comprehensive process that provides managers with a framework for planning current and future staffing decisions based on organizational mission, strategic plans and objectives, budgetary resources and a set of desired workforce skills and competencies. It takes a long-term view of organizational needs and how those needs may change based on internal and external factors. This process is simple in outline but depends on a rigorous and comprehensive analysis of the organization’s work, workforce and strategic direction.
Workforce planning is a management responsibility, and the process requires strong management leadership in providing clearly articulated vision, mission, strategic direction and objectives, and cooperative supportive efforts of staff in a variety of functional areas. All organizational levels, from the cost centers to headquarters, are responsible for supporting and ensuring that effective workforce plans are prepared, implemented, monitored and evaluated.
Many organizations, both public and private, have developed models for workforce planning. Aside from variations in terminology, the processes are usually very similar. All rely on an analysis of the present workforce (Supply); an identification of the future workforce needed (Demand); a comparison of the present workforce to future needs to identify gaps; the preparation of a strategy to address those gaps and build the needed future workforce (Action Planning); and an evaluation process to assure that the workforce direction remains valid and objectives are being met.
WFP should be rigorous and comprehensive, but no more complex than the needs of the organization dictate.
Managers at all levels within the USGS, both in the science mission components and support activities, have a critical and central role in developing workforce plans, coordinating strategies incorporated in the plans, and implementing actions to accomplish the objectives and goals of workforce strategies. Managers are already engaged in aspects of workforce planning, both formal and informal.
This USGS Workforce Planning Desk Guide simply takes existing activities and places them in the clearer context of the larger workforce planning picture. This guide is a tool to facilitate a consistent methodology and approach to workforce planning across the bureau. It is a reference tool that provides a consistent, systematic approach to workforce planning for managers and others who participate in the workforce planning process, including HR practitioners, budget analysts, program/management analysts and administrative officers who have roles in assisting managers to develop plans and achieve their workforce planning goals.
Integrating workforce planning into an annual review process eliminates redundancy and directly links workforce planning to program reviews.
Science center and cost center workforce plans are a valuable resource during the development of higher echelon plans (such as Area, Mission, and Bureau level plans), since they provide the information that is coordinated and synthesized into broader, higher level, and more strategic WFP documents. The process of synthesis and strategy development at each level of the organization allows for senior managers to engage in identifying strengths and opportunities across the workforce landscape that can be leveraged against weaknesses and threats. Center-level plans inform the plans of higher organizational echelons, even as those center plans are driven by the vision and strategic direction contained in strategic plans, such as the USGS Science Strategy and the work of the Science Strategy Planning Teams.
Workforce planning is an opportunity for every level of the organization to be involved and inform the organizational decision-making process.