Mind the Gap: Developing a Strategic Workforce Plan

June 19, 2017 in
By Whitney Huskey

As your federal agency moves full steam ahead to develop a comprehensive plan to reform and reduce your workforce in response to the latest OMB memorandum, you may be identifying gaps between where you stand today and where your agency is heading in the future. In this installment in our series for how to stay strategic through the hiring freeze and beyond, we discuss how implement workforce planning to address some of those gaps.

What is Workforce Planning?

The OMB memorandum provides guidance on fulfilling the requirements of both the Hiring Freeze Presidential Memorandum and the Reorganization Executive Order while also aligning the solutions to the budget and performance planning process. Areas required in your Agency Reform Plan include workforce reductions and employee performance plans. It will be critical to address the workforce reductions strategically so you can be proactive and thoughtful about where to reduce and where to continue staffing. Workforce planning is a strategy for identifying the gaps between the current state of your workforce and the future, or ideal, state of your human capital needs. In our last post, “Organizational Restructuring: Identifying Inefficiencies, Risks, and Opportunities”, we discussed ways to assess the current state of your organization to include an assessment of your people. Having already completed this assessment, you can continue to build on your strategic momentum and develop a detailed plan for addressing your workforce needs. By developing a workforce plan, your agency can realize several benefits to include:

  • aligning workforce requirements with your agency’s strategic business plan;
  • developing a comprehensive picture of workforce gaps as well as talent supply and demand issues;
  • providing talent managers with strategies and reports to aid in setting workforce investment priorities;
  • helping mitigate unplanned talent costs; and
  • creating a competitive advantage by instituting a proactive rather than reactive talent management plan.

Where do I start?

OPM’s Workforce Planning Model defines five steps to creating a strategic workforce plan:

  1. Set Strategic Direction: This step will include the guidance set forth by OMB as well as your agency’s own strategic goals. It’s important to set both short and long term goals to provide a clearer image of where your agency is headed.
  2. Analyze Workforce, Identify Skill Gaps, and Conduct Workforce Analysis: If you completed the steps outlined in the organizational restructuring post, you are already well on your way to completing this step. Here, you will need to identify your current resources, your future needs in those areas, and determine the gaps. A critical part of this step will also be to look at your future turnover estimates such as where you expect to lose resources to retirement or natural attrition.
  3. Develop Action Plan: Now that you have a clear vision of what your workforce looks like today and you’ve outlined a strategic plan for your future goals, you’ll need to develop a plan to close the gaps. This plan may include things such as recruiting, training, restructuring, or offering retirement or separation incentives (i.e., VERA/VSIP), when appropriate. The action plan may also have several phases to help you reach both your short and long-term goals.
  4. Implement Action Plan: You’ve successfully created an action plan to help you reach your workforce goals so now you can put it into action! Keep in mind things such as communications and change management activities that you may want to use while implementing your plan.
  5. Monitor, Evaluate, and Revise: A critical, yet often forgotten, step to any implementation is to continue to monitor, evaluate, and revise, as needed, to ensure the changes you are implementing are delivering the desired outcome. During the planning phase, it will be important to identify what success looks like so you will have something to measure. Continue to evaluate your progress along the way and be willing to change directions, if necessary, as circumstances change.

Developing a workforce model

You may also consider developing a workforce planning model to supplement your plan. A model can be used to:


What Next?

This bring us half-way through our series on how to stay strategic through the hiring freeze and beyond! At this point we have reviewed how to do an organizational assessment and have created a workforce plan to help you close the gaps and bring you closer to your future goals. Please continue to stay posted as our next chapter will outline the importance of and key steps of implementing career development activities to keep your workforce engaged and evolving to fit your needs.

Whitney is a Consultant at FMP Consulting with a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and experience delivering a variety of human capital solutions to the Federal Government. Outside of the office, she can be found exploring D.C.’s many outdoor activities, including paddle boarding or hiking.