Staffing plans show the number and types or classifications of employees a business needs to have on board over time. A plan can be developed for the company as a whole, for a department within the company or for a specific, time-limited project. Not only do staffing plans guide the recruitment, hiring and development of employees, the plans are also essential for budgeting and financial needs. Funding proposals – such as seeking venture capital for a startup or writing an application for a grant – usually require staffing plans.

Time Frame and Review

Time frames for staffing plans vary according to the needs of the company. A tech industry startup might project the staffing plan over 10 years or more, while an established company in a relatively stable industry might focus on two to five years. Project-based staffing plans should reflect the anticipated time span of the project, which could range from one month to several years.

Seasonal fluctuations should also be reflected in the time frame of staffing plans. For example, a retail company with heavy seasonal loads caused by holiday shopping periods might determine its staffing needs month by month throughout the year. The company might further refine the plan into weekly intervals for the largest holiday shopping period in November and December.

Regardless of the time frame used, staffing plans should be reviewed periodically and adjusted as work is accomplished and staffing needs change. With the exception of short-term project plans, most staffing plans can be reviewed at quarterly, semiannual or yearly intervals.

Developing the Plan

The basic outline for a staffing plan involves determining the projected staffing levels needed over time, looking at current staffing levels and identifying the deficiencies or “gaps” between the two. Recommendations can then be made for resolving the gaps, whether through recruitment of new hires, training and promotion from within or outsourcing to contractors.

A simple way to determine the needed staffing levels is to aggregate the needs by department, project or other subunit of the company. Once the departments have determined their projected staffing needs, the information can be summed, or entered into a spreadsheet and totaled. This is called “bottom-up” planning, and it works well for businesses with multiple short-term projects, or with defined departments that can accurately project their staffing needs on a yearly basis.

Refinements to this type of planning can be made by assigning a weighted probability for each project. For example, a project that is currently in operation would have a 100 percent probability of occurring, while a project that is envisioned to begin in four years might be assigned a 25 percent probability. The staffing numbers for each project are multiplied by the percentage to produce a weighted average of the staffing levels. Another type of plan focuses on the gaps or changes in staffing level for each department, projected over time.

Templates for Staffing Plans

A variety of staffing plan templates are available online, often with free downloads. The templates may be presented in a spreadsheet form such as Excel, or as a Word document. Using a template can save a great deal of time, because you can simply enter your company’s data without having to develop a format from scratch. However, you should first review any template under consideration to make sure it meets your company’s needs as well as any regulatory or industry requirements. A staffing plan for a fast-food restaurant, for example, would probably not produce a suitable plan for a hospital. Some templates allow for modification of the basic form, so that you can tailor them to your company’s specific needs.