The Top Five Benefits of Strategic Workforce Planning

New i4cp study shows that despite gains, most companies still struggle with strategic workforce planning.

Seattle, WA (January 31, 2012) - High-performance organizations are integrating workforce planning initiatives into their business and strategic planning processes more than ever, and the number of companies working on workforce planning has increased to over three quarters since 2009, according to a new study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp).

Still, many companies are struggling to see results, as only 16% of human capital professionals surveyed by i4cp in late 2011 rated their organizations as effective at workforce planning. However, high-performance organizations are nearly twice as likely as lower performers to be effective at it.

Although success at workforce planning eludes many organizations, the prospect of the profound benefits it promises makes it a critical must-have competency for business. A new report that outlines the study's key findings and features insights from i4cp member organizations including Toyota Financial Services, Black Hills Corporation and Luminant, explains the key benefits of devoting proper time and resources to implementing a workforce planning program.

Through research and in-depth discussions with senior executives, i4cp has identified that strategic workforce planning:

1. Supports the budgeting process
As workforce planning outputs continue to grow more robust, other business leaders are likely to follow the example set by their counterparts at higher-performing companies and rely more on this evolving resource to help feed the budgeting process.

2. Supports the strategic/business planning process
A director of HR at a major North American energy and utility provider says it best: "Strategic workforce planning is an embedded part of the annual and multi-year business planning process".

3. Identifies shortage of qualified talent to fill critical roles
Strategic workforce planning helps highlight talent shortages, speeding up the process of identifying sources of new talent that could, upon hire, make significant business impact.

4. Serves as a mechanism for identifying critical talent
With proper integration, workforce planning improves communication between human resources and business units and subsequently the ability to identify and retain the most important talent.

5. (tie) Identifies skills gaps in the workforce
"We've needed to have discussions about the people and skills our businesses need to accomplish strategic initiatives, and those conversations make more feasible planning possible," says Toyota Financial Services workforce planning & analysis manager Michael LeBrun.

5. (tie) Acts as a mechanism for identifying critical roles
Mirroring item four, business units are more able and willing to work with human resources to identify specific roles that, if left unfilled, could damage the organization's bottom line and simultaneously deliver greater returns if properly filled.

Realizing the benefits of strategic workforce planning is easier said than done; it takes time, training and sponsorship from the most senior levels of leadership. i4cp's new strategic workforce planning report - Strategic Workforce Planning: Practitioner Insights - explains how some companies are seeing results, both at the business level and within human resources. "Workforce planning is giving our HR business partners within each business unit the tools they need to take part in the units' strategy planning," says Beth Peters, organization development specialist for Black Hills Corp. "It's moving the perception of them beyond the transactional focus."

The strategic workforce planning report is now available exclusively to i4cp members and participants in i4cp's strategic workforce planning research working group, who aided in the development of the study. For more information about i4cp's research or the strategic workforce planning working group, please visit

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the fastest-growing and largest corporate network focused on the practices of high-performance organizations. Reflective of this growth, i4cp was named to the prestigious 2011 500|5000 list. Through a combination of peer networking, human capital research, tools and technology, i4cp enables high performance by:

  • Revealing what high-performance organizations are doing differently
  • Identifying best and next practices for all levels of management
  • Providing the resources to show how workforce improvements have bottom-line impact

With more than 40 years of experience and the industry's largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity. For more information, visit

Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.