The Headcount Planning Countdown to Success

Sarah Wallach
Aug 17, 2016

headcount planning strategy

Headcount management. Workforce Forecasting. Headcount Planning. It’s all kind of the same thing – at the end of the day, you’re simply trying to manage your headcount within budget while still having the employee resources to meet your organization’s strategic goals for growth and overall success. 

Alright, so “simply” may not have been exactly the right word to describe the process of headcount planning, but that is our end goal. We want to help you make this process as simple as possible. Here’s how we count down to headcount planning success:

headcount planning countdown to success

In today’s competitive business landscape and challenging economy, CEOs, HR leaders, department managers, and pretty much everyone else in a leadership position at an organization needs to know that their talent, costs, and goals are aligned – that’s where headcount planning comes in, and why it’s vital to your organization’s future.

You’ve probably already identified some of the ways your organization can benefit from taking headcount planning seriously. We have uncovered five key advantages that a successful headcount planning process provides:

  1. It aligns your plans for headcount with the company’s strategic goals, and the skills needs to achieve those goals.
  2. It Identifies skills that your current workforce may not have, but that you need to be successful.
  3. A successful headcount plan helps your recruiting team look out for new employees who possess the skills your company desires during the recruitment process.
  4. It allows your managers to identify and mentor those reporting to them who can help fill skills gaps with additional training.
  5. A good planning process creates a projection of costs associated with the hiring, potential additional development, and salaries associated with creating the workforce you need for the future.

We’re sure that there are many more advantages that you can think of, including, but surely not limited to, the fact that it’s always better to have a plan for where you’re going and how you’ll get there. What’s that old saying? Oh, yes – “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” As you know, there’s no wishing in business just like there’s no crying in baseball if you want to be in a “league of your own” and set yourself apart from your competitors.

Now, to benefit from these advantages, we recommend you take these four simple steps to create your headcount plan:

  1. Pinpoint the key metrics you need to evaluate your workforce and create your headcount plan.

    A few suggestions – performance ratings, position requirements, employee skill sets and general qualifications, attrition rates (overall and by department), department hierarchy, retirement eligibility information, and salary information.

  2. Identify your business goals and challenges and have them front and center.

    A couple questions to ask yourself – What challenges is our business facing? Our industry? What opportunities does this create for our organization?

  3. Evaluate your workforce, paying special attention to critical roles.

    Some important considerations to think about during this stage – Which roles are critical now and which ones will be in the future? Which can we do without to maximize the ROI? Where are we having problems with attrition and what are we doing about that issue? Are we creating or hiring enough succession-eligible employees?

  4. Build your headcount plan with your goals and budget in mind and send it for executive review.

    Considerations you’ll need to try to balance during this step – How will your headcount plan be accounted for in your budget and does it
    really align to your organization’s goals for the future. That’s what your company’s execs will want to know!

Do you need more information on headcount planning solutions? Here are two ways to get in touch with us!

  1. Email us at or call our team directly at 1-800-782-1818, option 3.
  2. Fill out this form and select “workforce planning” as your interest.

Finally, we recommend following us on our social media channels as one additional way to stay up-to-date on workforce planning, compliance, diversity, and talent management hot topics.

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