The backbone of any successful business is the people and processes behind it — that’s why creating a human resources (HR) plan is key. This strategic document drives your business forward by evaluating where your workforce is at, and comparing it to future needs.
Without an HR plan, organizations can suffer from issues that would have otherwise been avoided. From productivity pitfalls to costly employee turnover, there’s no shortage of risks you can sidestep if you do human resource planning in advance.
Not sure where to start? No worries. I’ve outlined six steps you can take to create an effective HR plan that ensures your organization is well-staffed and well-served. You’ll also find a variety of HR templates that you can customize in just a few clicks — no design expertise required.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is human resource planning?
- Start creating a strategic HR plan in 6 steps
What is human resource planning?
Human resource planning is the process of considering the current and future “people needs” of an organization.
This involves evaluating an organization’s workforce structure and protocols to ensure operational goals are met, productivity stays high and future demands for labor and talent can be fulfilled.
The result of this process is the creation of an HR plan, which typically takes the form of a written document. These documents tend to follow a similar structure to most strategic business plans and are created on an annual basis, by HR managers or company leaders.
Check out the template below for an example.
This eye-catching, one-page HR Strategic Plan Template offers a concise summary of your human resource planning efforts, so you can easily share info with colleagues.
Just swap out the text and visual assets for those of your choosing in Venngage’s editor, and you’re off to the races.
Start creating a strategic HR plan in 6 steps
Ready to create a strategic plan for the human resources that power your business? Here are six steps to help you succeed at the human resource planning process.
- Assess current employees’ skill levels
The first step to creating a future-forward HR plan is to assess employees’ current skill sets, and compare them to your operational needs moving forward. This will help you identify gaps and inform any hiring of new employees.
Employees’ skill levels can be assessed by reviewing their work history, hard and soft skills and professional growth over time.
Using a matrix is a great way to understand where the skill gaps in your current workforce exist. Below is an example that describes the skills needed for different marketing roles.
Don’t need it for marketing specifically? No worries — you can fully customize this template by swapping in your own text to examine any human resource gaps.
Another way to assess skills is by giving employees a questionnaire they can fill out. This Employee Competency Assessment Template does just that.
Based on the information collected, you’ll get a sense of what positions best suit each individual, and whether any upskilling or hiring is required.
- Forecast your labor needs based on available information
Next in your strategic strategic HR management plan, you’ll want to consider the future. This involves accounting for any upcoming changes to your workforce, so operations can continue without error.
When forecasting labor needs, the following should be considered:
- Planned promotions
- Upcoming retirements
- Personnel transfers
- Extended leaves of absence (i.e. maternity/paternity leave)
Beyond those, it’s a good idea to assess the impact of external conditions on your labor needs during your human resource planning. For example, new technological developments may decrease the amount of employees you require to operate your business.
- Revisit your organizational design
Organizational design is the process of structuring the way a business operates so it can best achieve its goals. This is hugely important when it comes to your human resource planning process!
With a clear understanding of your organization’s strategic objectives in mind, reviewing your organizational design allows you to understand the staffing requirements you’ll need to succeed at them. This means taking into account your organizational structure and chains of command, as well as how work gets done and the way information flows.
From there, you’ll be able to see which departments need more team members so it can accomplish the organization’s objectives.
An easy way to get started is by using an organizational flow chart.
With its color coding and layout, even a new manager can quickly look at this chart to identify the people responsible for leading teams and making decisions.
And if there are any changes, it’s easy to to reflect them in the chart itself. All you need to do is customize the text and visual assets in Venngage’s Chart Maker as desired.
Not quite your style? There’s plenty of other organizational chart templates to choose from.
Here’s an organizational chart that’s perfect for small businesses that have limited employees. One quick look, and you’re good to go.
The bottom line is, no matter how big or small your business may be, you should always revisit your organizational design to optimize your workforce management and business operations.
- Outline how you will manage, motivate and retain talent
In this day and age, it’s a known fact that companies must provide more than just a paycheque to attract and retain talent, and encourage growth.
It’s true — studies have shown employees are more engaged in their work when they feel it is meaningful, fulfilling and slightly challenging. So your human resource plan should consider how to inspire such feelings, and what actions you can take to motivate employees to stay. (Hint: a strong HR training and development program is key.)
The talent management infographic template below is a great way to begin.
Using this process chart, you can detail the steps you’ll take to retain the talent you have. Reference it as needed in your human resource planning.
Another great way to keep staff motivated and geared towards their professional growth is by coming up with ideas for employee development. Facilitating a company culture that champions continuous learning guarantees your team will feel supported and challenged in all the right ways.
The two employee development plan templates below will help you do just that.
Though both templates are geared towards healthcare organizations, it’s easy to customize their content in Venngage to promote the continuous learning and development of employees in any industry.
As a result, your employees will be able to reach their full potential, while simultaneously supporting the long-term goals of your organization.
- Align your workforce planning with your budget
Let’s face it, human resources ain’t cheap.
Meaning, if you struggle at organizing and monitoring your HR budget, you’re bound to overspend on your initiatives —and no financially savvy business wants that.
That’s why I recommend including financial information in your HR planning process, so you can reference your budget and expenses as needed. This ensures you’ll be able to stay within range as you work towards achieving your strategic goals for human capital.
Plus, you don’t need to use one that contains walls of text and wack-loads numbers. Check out the clean and cheery option below — it’s as easy to fill out as it is to understand.
And if you’re looking to compare a forecasted budget to previous annual spending when strategizing your HR budget, the Budget Comparison Infographic Template below will help.
The bar graph is a great data visualization of annual expenses, organized by category. Just add (or import) any values to Venngage’s editor, swap out the text, and you’re ready to compare with ease.
- Establish KPIs for your human resource planning objectives
Measurable results are important when it comes to your HR planning processes, because they indicate whether your strategy is working or not.
Keeping those metrics in mind, your company can make adjustments and improve upon any future plans — AKA strategize for future success in business. That’s why your human resource plan should include info re: the specific key performance indicators (KPI) you’ll be measuring.
KPIs are established to help determine if HR strategies and plans are working. Much like those used for evaluating the performance of marketing or sales plan, KPIs for human resources are measurable results that indicate an organization’s success at achieving predetermined goals.
These may take the form of headcounts, turnover rates, demographic information, time to hire and employee satisfaction scores.
Here’s one employee satisfaction survey you can use to understand your workforce better.
When you’re ready to organize those HR KPIs in a document, the recruiting template below is perfect for keeping tabs at a glance.
How do I make an HR plan?
After you’ve collected the data you need, you’ll want to convey this info in an engaging, professional manner for easy referencing and sharing amongst colleagues. Given this, using Venngage is the best route to go.
Here are the simple steps to help you bring an actionable HR plan to life:
- Outline the information you would like to include in your strategic hr plan
- Pick the human resource planning templates that best suits your needs
- Customize the templates’ text and visual assets so they speak to your organization
- Apply your company’s brand guidelines with a few clicks using Venngage’s automated branding feature, My Brand Kit
- Download and share as desired
FAQ about HR plans
How long should an HR plan be?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the length of an HR plan. That being said, if you’re going to share it with colleagues, you probably don’t want to create a 20+ page document. One to five pages should suffice.
Try to be as concise as possible when relaying the facts, and use data visualizations wherever possible to save room.
Do I need an HR contingency plan?
In the same way creating an HR plan is a proactive move that helps your organization account for future needs, it’s a good idea to devise an HR contingency plan. This ensures there’s a back-up plan in place should your initiatives not go as expected.
For example, if you’ve identified that you need five new hires to keep up with consumer demand, but the talent pool is lacking, a contingency plan could house suggestions for restructuring your workforce to mitigate this.
In other words, it’s best-practice to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Is an HR plan different from an employee development plan?
Yes. While an HR plan is a strategic document describing how an organization addresses its personnel-related needs at a high-level, an employee development plan outlines the processes needed to help an individual achieve their professional goals.
Even though the human resource planning process may involve outlining some employee development tactics, it is not unique to each employee as in the case of an employee development plan.
Make your HR planning processes effortless
You don’t need a crystal ball to feel confident about your people moving forward. With a solid HR plan and strategy in place, you’ll prime your workforce — and all business endeavors — to succeed in even the most competitive of markets.
Just remember this: human resources planning, and creating strategic business plans in general, doesn’t have to be exhausting.
With Venngage’s huge selection of professionally-designed templates and easy-to-use editor, all it takes is a few minutes to produce a polished document perfect for all your needs. Sign up for free today!