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Basic Guidelines to Develop a Staffing Plan

    First, Some General Principles About Staffing Planning

    The staffing plan specifies what positions, jobs and/or roles will be needed by the organization, usually over the next year, along with how they will be organized into the organization, including who they will report to and how they will work together.

    When developing a plan, whether it’s a staffing plan or a strategic plan or a business plan, the process of the planning is as important — if not more important — than the plan (document) itself. So don’t undervalue the process to develop the plan. You will likely learn as lot as you develop it.

    If yours is a new or small company and you don’t have much experience in workforce planning, then consider getting help from experts in human resources. You might need only a few hours of consultation.

    But before you get help, realize that you probably already know a lot that could be put in the first draft of the plan. You — or with a small team — write down what you think for the first draft of the plan, consider getting input from others with credible feedback, adjust the drafted plan, start to implement it — and then change it as you go along. Don’t worry about getting it perfect.

    Finally, don’t go into great detail about each of the positions, jobs and/or roles for now. You can go into more detail in the next step of staffing, How to Design a New Job — a New Position or Role.

    Formal Means to Identify Staffing Needs and a Staffing Plan

    Personnel planning (also referred to as workforce planning or human resources planning) is made much easier if the organization has been conducting some form of strategic or business planning about the overall organization. Good plans should result in action plans that specify who will be doing what and by when in order to achieve the overall goals in the plans.

    The nature of those actions often suggests the types of expertise (or personnel) needed to do the actions in a timely manner. Those needs in personnel usually result in staffing plans that specify what jobs or roles are needed and by when.

    Do not be discouraged if your organization does not have a formal, written strategic or business plan (although if you don’t, you should aim to do written plans soon) It’s very likely that much of the information, that would be in those plans, is already in the minds of the leaders in the organization. In that case, use that information to begin to draft a staffing plan.

    The process is usually in the following order. (The extent to which the steps are done depends on how many resources the organization has for extensive, formal planning. For example, large, well-established organizations would integrate other activities than those listed below, such as analysis of demographic trends, forecasts of retirements of current personnel, and succession planning.) The following steps are to help the reader begin to think strategically about staffing needs.

    1. The strategic plan specifies strategic goals and strategies or objectives to achieve each goal. (Smaller organizations often do not include strategies, and focus instead on objectives for each goal.)

    2. The strategic plan produces an action plan (or operational plan) that specifies actions or tasks must be done in order to implement each strategy and/or achieve each objective. Ideally, the action plan list the resources needed to address the strategy or objective. These resources include, for example, funding, facilities and expertise (people).

    3. A staffing plan is created by grouping similar types of expertise and tasks. Those similarities often are grouped into various jobs or positions. This phase is sometimes referred to as the job analysis. (Note that anyone who’s ever worked in an established organization already has some sense of various different types of activities, or jobs, and how they might be grouped together — so they probably already know more than they realize about this stage of workforce planning.)

    You can learn more about staffing planning by reviewing some of the resources in the section Additional Perspectives on Personnel Planning below.

    Informal Means to Identify Staffing Needs

    Frankly, most personnel planning, especially in small- to medium-sized organizations, is probably done on an informal basis. Often, managers realize the need for a new organizational role when employees continue to report being short-handed and mention that the certain tasks are not being done. This issue can point to the need for new positions. (This issue can also point to other causes, for example, inadequate supervision or training.)