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Phase 1 - Set the Strategic Direction for the Workforce Plan

​Workforce planning depends upon and complements strategic planning. Strategic planning assists in mapping where you are, where you are going, and how you plan to get there. Workforce planning identifies staffing and competency requirements and strategies in alignment with the strategic plan, equal employment opportunity goals, and workforce-related risk controls in order to recruit and retain a diverse, competent, and inclusive workforce. The suggested actions below will set the strategic direction for the workforce plan.


Set the strategic direction to ensure the workforce plan aligns staffing to the business needs and strategic goals of your organization's mission and vision.


Documentation of the organization's strategic direction, critical functions , and environmental factors (internal and external) that impact the organization's workforce.

Steps to Accomplish the Deliverable

  1. Obtain executive support for the workforce plan.

  2. Establish ownership for the workforce plan by building a project team that includes representation from each division/program area to help develop the plan and garner feedback from key stakeholders throughout the process.

  3. Review the organization's strategic plan to align workforce planning efforts to the mission, vision, and critical functions.

  4. Identify the internal and external environmental factors that impact the organization's workforce including shifts in politics, technology, economy, culture, etc.

  5. Analyze the impact the environmental factors have on the organization's mission, vision, and critical functions, to also include future implications.

Tools to Assist with Steps

Steps 1-2:

Step 2:

Steps 3 - 5:

Detailed Information to Assist with Steps

Key Terms

Annual Workforce Analysis (WFA) - an annual report organizations submit to CalHR that provides workforce composition, upward mobility programs, hiring goals and action plans to ensure equal employment opportunity.

Environmental Scan - Examining internal and external factors to obtain a better understanding of what trends and issues impact the workforce.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Plan - a plan which, at a minimum, shall identify the areas of significant underutilization of specific groups based on race, ethnicity, and gender, within each department by job category and level, contain an equal employment opportunity analysis of all job categories and levels within the hiring jurisdiction, and include an explanation and specific actions for removing any non-job-related employment barriers.

State Leadership Accountability Act (SLAA) - requirement for all state agencies to monitor their internal control systems to minimize fraud, errors, waste, and abuse of government funds.

S​teering Committee - An advisory committee comprised of stakeholders who provide guidance on key issues such as policy and objectives, resource allocation, and decision-making.

Strategic Plan - An internal document that outlines an organization's overall direction and purpose, examines its current status, sets long-term objectives, and formulates tactics to achieve them.

Underutilization Plan - a component of an organization's EEO plan that analyzes classifications with significant underutilizations and identifies recruitment and retention strategies for addressing these underutilizations.

Upward Mobility Plan (UMP) - a written document required by CCR, Title 2, section 599.983 that provides for the planned development and advancement of employees in low-paying occupations to entry technical, professional, and administrative positions within organizations. ​​

Step 1: Obtain Executive Support

To gain support of the executive team and other critical stakeholders, conduct a risk assessment illustrating the business need for workforce planning and costs associated with lack of planning.  For example, explain the potential impact of retirements, transfers, and other voluntary separations to the costs of training new employees,  loss or delays in services, etc. 

Some benefits of workforce planning that can be emphasized to executives include:

  • Cost context - Reduce fiscal waste caused by classifications or positions with high turnover by  implementing retention and engagement strategies to increase return on investment.
  • Budget - Assist in gaining resources for positions, training, and other budgetary expenses by illustrating the mission critical need through a gap analysis.
  • Productivity - Increase productivity through employee development, retention, and engagement strategies.
  • Statewide issues - Developing a workforce plan can assist with identifying statewide challenges, which could lead to gaining support and resources through statewide solutions.
  • Maximize resources - Identify opportunities to improve efficiencies through a comprehensive workforce and competency analysis.

This can be done within a smaller case study context or a comprehensive workforce analysis.

  • Case study: Identify one or more division/program areas experiencing recruitment, retention, employee development, knowledge transfer and/or succession management challenges.  Interview division/program area managers and supervisors to gain information on how these challenges are impacting their division’s critical functions and the organization's mission.  To assist in gathering division/program area input utilize the Survey and Development Tool PDF | DOCX.

  • Comprehensive workforce analysis:  Analyze the entire organization's workforce data to illustrate demographic and separation trends.  For detailed instructions on completing a workforce analysis, follow the guidance in Phase 2 Step 1 and utilize the Tools and Detailed Information sections. Reserve the competency assessment, as mentioned in Phase 2, until executive support has been established and/or a Steering Committee Roles and Responsibilities PDF or project team is available to assist with this effort.  Compare the organization's workforce trends to statewide age demographic and retirement trends for perspective.

Utilizing concrete examples of workforce risks from your organization can be a very powerful illustration of the need for workforce planning. In addition, the following are general “What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)” concepts that, if relevant, can be presented to assist with understanding the necessity:

  • Leadership
    • Workforce and succession plans can slow down the loss of institutional knowledge currently taking place.
    • Workforce and succession plans allow senior leaders to demonstrate their commitment to employees and the citizens of California by planning and preparing for the continuity of services long into the future.
  • Strategic Planning
    • Workforce and succession plans can be the cornerstone to build key critical position bench strength and deliver on strategic plan objectives.
    • Workforce and succession plans can ensure the right talent is in the right positions for the most efficient approach to accomplishing strategic goals.
    • Workforce and succession plans can help identify unknown risks threatening to impede an organization's strategic mission.
    • Workforce and succession plans can help mitigate the impact of increasing and changing workload.
  • Customers
    • Workforce and succession plans can help prepare for the future, sustain services, and implement efficiencies in order to meet and exceed customer expectations.

Maintain executive and stakeholder support throughout the process by delivering continuous communication about workforce planning progress, small and large accomplishments, other successes, and impacts to the organization.

Step 2: Establish Ownership

Anticipate Time and Resources

Allocating sufficient resources to the workforce planning effort is essential in the success of a comprehensive and fully implemented workforce plan. To help anticipate the time and resources needed, refer to the Workforce Plan Checklist PDF​​.  The tool is used to evaluate a completed workforce plan, but can assist organizations during the planning process to anticipate critical milestones that will need to be accomplished.

Structured Team

Workforce planning is the responsibility of the entire organization and can be pursued in circumstances with limited resources. Although there may be one person responsible for coordinating the effort, a dedicated team comprised of full or part-time members should be established to serve as the support team for workforce planning efforts.

Begin with a working project team and later establish a governance committee to ensure successful implementation and maintenance of the plan. See more about a governance structure in Phase 5.

The project team will carry out the work of developing the workforce plan. A formal Steering Committee can also be established in addition to, or include, the project team. Regardless of the team formality, reference the  Steering Committee Roles and Responsibilities PDF  for guidance on roles and responsibilities. Although it may not be possible to establish a formal Steering Committee due to limited resources, the Steering Committee Roles and Responsibilities matrix can still assist in identifying which division/program areas of the organization may be able to assist with the associated aspects of the workforce planning effort. 

If it is necessary to narrow the scope of workforce planning efforts due to limited resources, begin by interviewing the executive team to gain information on the top three to five workforce planning needs of the organization. From there, focus on the division/program areas that have the highest impact on the top needs identified. Proceed through the State of California Workforce Planning Model with a narrowed focus on the workforce of those high impact division/program areas. The Survey and Development Tool PDF | DOCX ​may assist with efforts in collecting this type of information.

Step 3: Align Workforce Planning to Organizational Strategic Goals

Strategic Plan in Place

If a strategic plan is complete and current, identify the mission critical goals, then the critical objectives within each goal.  For each mission critical objective, consider the human resources needed to fulfill it.  All the workforce planning strategies that will be developed should directly support one of these objectives or overlying goals.  

Review the Strategic Plan, any SLAA workforce-related risks and controls, WFA, and EEO Plan including any Underutilization Plan to align workforce planning efforts with the organization's mission, vision,​ and critical functions.

No Strategic Plan in Place

If strategic planning has not been completed, begin the process by gaining input from division/program areas and stakeholders through meetings and/or surveys to complete one or more of the following:

  • Perform an environmental scan which entails looking at changes to the internal and external environmental factors that are existent and could occur in the future and how these changes could impact the workforce.
  • Perform a SWOT analysis (Strengths- internal attributes of the organization that are helpful to achieving strategic goals, Weaknesses - internal attributes of the organization that are detrimental to achieving strategic goals, Opportunities - external conditions that are helpful to achieving strategic goals, and Threats - external conditions that are detrimental to achieving strategic goals) to help determine challenges that impact the workforce.

  • Review the Strategic Plan, any SLAA workforce-related risks and controls, WFA, and EEO P​lan including any Underutilization Plan to align workforce planning efforts with the organization's mission, vision,​ and critical functions.​

Contact the CalHR Statewide Workforce Planning Unit at ​​ for methodology information on performing a SWOT analysis.

Step 4: Identify Environmental Factors

Obtain data on the entire organization as well as data related to internal and external environmental factors, such as: events impacting your organization, private sector trends, federal or local influences, potential organizational shifts, changes in how the organization conducts business or provides services, etc.

Step 5: Analyze Impact of Environmental Factors

Analyze the impact of the environmental factors identified in Step 4.  Identify current trends to the workforce and anticipate their future implications. Compare the analysis against demographic trends that you will collect in Phase 2, such as age and retirement eligibility.  ​

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