Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Frequently Asked Questions about Workforce Planning

What is Workforce Planning?

In its simplest terms, workforce planning is getting "the right number of people with the right skills, experiences, and competencies in the right jobs at the right time." It is a proactive and systematic process, that aligns strategic planning, human capital, and budgeting to meet organizational goals and objectives by forecasting mission-critical talent needs; analyzing current workforce and talent supply; and developing, implementing, and evaluating strategies to close gaps.


Who does Workforce Planning?

Workforce planning is a management responsibility requiring the cooperative efforts of staff in many functional areas. It is best done in a team approach with members that have expertise in strategic planning, budget and financial management, human resources, management analysis, and science/program areas.


What are the Essential Steps in the Workforce Planning Process?

  1. Identifying an organization’s long-term strategic direction, generally 3-5 years
  2. Identifying the number of employees and the types of skill sets and competencies required to meet the organization’s strategic direction
  3. Developing a plan of action to ensure that the appropriate workforce will be available to carry out the strategic direction
  4. Implementing the plan of action
  5. Evaluating progress made on the plan and revising the plan if necessary


Why is Workforce Planning Important?

Workforce planning is essential in meeting USGS's strategic science goals. It benefits managers by providing a structured approach to identifying gaps between current job skills and competencies needed to perform work in the future, preparing for the growing number of retirements, maintaining and recruiting a diverse workforce, providing an orderly way to address external or internal environmental changes that could impact the workforce, and preparing for expansion, restructuring, or reduction in the workforce.


What is Succession Planning?

The purpose of succession planning is to prepare theUSGS for risks associated with the planned or unplanned loss of knowledge and skills critical to USGS's success. Succession planning is a systematic process of identifying and developing candidates for key positions that have a significant impact on the mission of an organization. Key positions include those that require specialized job skills or expertise, a high-level leadership position, and/or positions that are considered 'mission-critical' to the USGS. Effective succession planning provides a framework for developing a pipeline of highly qualified employees who are capable of filling critical positions and helps avoid delays in filling critical positions.


How is Succession Planning Different from Workforce Planning?

Succession planning complements and is a follow-up to workforce planning. It is intended to help assess short-term (1-3 years) staffing requirements to ensure that adequate numbers of appropriate qualified employees are available to meet USGS goals and objectives. Succession planning efforts translate strategy into action by building a pipeline/talent pool to ensure continuity, developing potential successors in ways that best fit their strengths, identifying the best candidates for mission critical positions, and concentrating resources on the talent development process.


« Return to Frequently Asked Questions
« Return to Workforce/Succession Planning