Human resources planning involves how to best provide manpower for an organization through staffing, training, development and compensation policies and practices. Without a road map, HR cannot address the people factor that enables an organization to reach its goals. HR plans, therefore, complement organizational strategy and objectives. Consulting firm Strategic Human Resources ranks strategic planning among the profession’s most important issues of the 21st century.
In their textbook, “Managing Human Resources,” authors Susan E. Jackson, Randall S. Schuler and Steve Werner list environmental scanning as the first of three elements in HR planning. Both internal and external environments must be studied. External assessment involves identifying what the University of California San Francisco calls “change drivers” — social, political, economic, legislative, technological, globalization and industry-related outside factors that might detract from company performance. An organizational analysis covers internal factors influencing the organization’s ability to react to change and remain competitive. This internal assessment examines company culture, technological capability, customer service expectations and existing talent that drive workforce requirements.
The second major element of an HR plan entails establishing measurable objectives to address the issues raised through environmental assessment. A growing market may mandate increasing the payroll, adapting recruitment efforts to attract workers with different competencies, rethinking relocation practices and introducing skill-specific training programs. Dropping a product line might lead to HR objectives that target labor cost reduction, employee communication or retraining for retention. Anticipated changes in legislation could suggest the need to revamp document retention policies, benefits administration or diversity initiatives. This stage outlines how human resources will react to ensure that the organization has the right personnel and employee-support systems in place.
The third element of HR planning defines the tactics or actions that will be executed to achieve the HR objectives. Each tactic has a time frame against which it will be measured. Tactics may include policies and programs related to employee communication, training, development, recruitment, performance management, compensation and career pathing as well as management development, succession planning and job definition. According to Wharton School professor Peter Cappelli, HR tactics and their related strategies “build and reinforce” the organization’s competencies.