About Strategic Workforce Planning

Strategic workforce planning ensures the workforce is dynamically and directly linked to the future direction of the organisation. Put simply it is about having the right people in the right jobs at the right time and for the right cost.

For Queensland public sector agencies, the requirement to annually develop and publish a strategic workforce plan is referenced in:

Strategic workforce planning helps you:

  • understand current workforce environment
  • plan for necessary skills, capabilities and aptitudes that will be required
  • align with workforce strategies, systems and practices to fill any skills gaps
  • draw linkages with whole-of-government priorities and outcomes.

1. Benefits of strategic workforce planning

The scope and scale of changes in the workplace today requires us to think differently about our workforce. Workplaces will almost certainly change, driven by improvements in both technology and design. These changes will shape the way we deliver services and undoubtedly demand new skills, knowledge and attributes of our workforce, and possibly new designs of our workplaces.

There are real benefits for public sector agencies having contemporary strategic workforce planning processes in place.

An effective and practical plan delivers:

  • a workforce with the capability and capacity to efficiently and flexibly ensure service delivery outcomes are met
  • a focused and strategic approach to attracting, engaging, developing and retaining a suitable workforce and identifying critical skills gaps
  • integration into business, performance and financial planning processes with a clear focus on achieving the agency’s service delivery outcomes
  • workforce modelling to understand demand and supply issues
  • initiatives that address workforce design, size, composition, capability, current and future skills requirements, and talent management.

2. Challenges

Traditionally, workforce planning has estimated future workforce requirements by projecting prevailing patterns of workforce design and distribution into the future. This approach sees the future simply as an extension of the past. This not only reduces the ability to foresee and react to shifting service delivery needs, it can impede creative and innovative solutions.

It also often relies on subjective assumptions and best guesses, particularly about supply and demand variables. Assumptions can include:

  • that the current roles and professions are the ones needed now and in the future
  • that occupational groups will contribute and be needed in the same way
  • that there are no gaps or inefficiencies in the current workforce
  • that we can accurately predict changes in ICT, service delivery models and customer expectations.

Contemporary strategic workforce plans are more than workforce modelling (about the numbers). They are about deeply understanding the various workforce segments, workforce availability, capacities and productivities about how effectively the workforce is currently being utilised and what it needs to look like.

3. Keys to success

The keys to success include:

  • processes that support the integration of people, processes and systems with performance and productivity improvement
  • integration with other planning processes such as strategic, business, budget and diversity plans
  • ongoing commitment and partnership across all parts of the organisation including at the most senior levels
  • dedicated resourcing and budget
  • alignment with whole of government priorities and other activities such as independent and functional reviews, culture and values, and performance frameworks.

4. Where to start

Useful links to get started

Understand current state through:

  • insights from workforce data
  • capability data from Lead4Qld
  • strategic or business plans
  • surveys and feedback from employees, stakeholders, and customers.

Then, plan for the future state through:

  • better practices and benchmarks
  • scenario planning
  • anticipating needs and future capabilities
  • workforce strategies that address attraction, recruitment, inclusions and diversity, wellbeing, retention, and performance management.

5. Responsibilities

In partnership with the sector, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has developed a strategic workforce planning framework (PDF, 81 KB) to assist departments to develop their strategic workforce plans.

PSC:

  • informs government of major sector-wide workforce matters
  • provides public sector workforce data collection, analysis, reporting and forecasting
  • works with agencies to ensure they effectively collaborate to plan, support, and manage those corporate services employees affected by technology changes
  • liaise between central and line agencies with regard to workforce issues and priorities (PSC, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and Queensland Treasury)
  • share workforce planning tools
  • provide support for training, awareness and capability development
  • enable aggregated learning to shared workforce issues
  • assist in a common approach to language and measurement
  • explore fresh approaches to service delivery and provide knowledge-sharing and collaboration opportunities
  • develop collective strategies to issues that could be solved more efficiently and effectively were there to be a shared and systematic approach.

Agencies:

  • inform respective Ministers of major workforce strategies
  • improve agency workforce data collection, quality and supply/demand forecasting
  • report workforce data to PSC as required
  • develop and implement agency-specific strategic workforce plans
  • integrate workforce planning into annual business, performance and financial planning processes
  • provide input into the use of common language and measurement within the agency
  • share success stories/learnings and collaborate with other agencies as appropriate
  • provide agency-specific workforce plans to PSC and raise workforce planning issues
  • monitor and review workforce plans annually
  • raise any workforce matters that would benefit from a sector-wide approach.