Strategic workforce planning is about understanding and proactively preparing for changes that may impact the workforce. 

For the purpose of the Framework, strategic workforce planning is defined as longer-term planning – often covering a 3 to 5 year period. Strategic workforce planning is separate from operational and tactical workforce planning, although strategic workforce planning informs the other two processes. Figure 3 outlines the key characteristics of strategic workforce planning. 

Strategic workforce planning is:

  • Focused on the longer-term 
  • Iterative and regularly reviewed 
  • Aligned with organisational strategy 
  • A collaborative process involving multiple parts of the organisation 
  • Sponsored by senior leaders across the organisation 
  • Providing direction without too much detail 
  • Using talent management to identify, develop, support and mobilise individuals to meet strategic needs 
  • Based on data and evidence 
  • Considerate of internal and external supply and demand factors 
  • Used to create forecasts of future workforce requirements and action plan 
  • An opportunity to review and address diversity and inclusion 
  • Guided by the assumption that change is a certainty 
  • Considering feasible scenarios, rather than extremely long-term or blue sky conceptual thinking 

Strategic workforce planning is not:

  • Resource management to fill immediate operational needs 
  • Project planning 
  • A form of financial forecasting 
  • However, it can provide valuable input into these processes 

Operational workforce planning

Operational workforce planning enables the organisation to achieve outcomes in the short term. Keeping on track day-to-day, forecasting to prepare for immediate operational or resource needs and addressing ad-hoc changes are all part of this form of workforce planning. Operational workforce planning is largely driven by HR and individual team managers, and produces documentation including procedures, processes and rosters. Preparation for the recruitment life cycle and seasonal workforce changes are other typical examples. 

Tactical workforce planning

Tactical workforce planning involves concrete actions that facilitate the delivery of goals identified in an organisation’s strategic workforce plan. Tactical planning is often organised around a fiscal year, and prioritises delivering work on time and on budget. Each work area within an organisation should undertake tactical planning. Chief Financial Officers, HR Directors and Senior Leaders are typically involved in this process. Policies that cover specific work areas, marketing strategies, succession planning and workflow arrangements are examples of tactical planning components. 


Operational workforce planning ensures daily work is done effectively.


Tactical workforce planning specifies how work should be done in a specific area to efficiently achieve goals outlined in the strategic workforce plan.

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Strategic, tactical and operational workforce planning approaches should not be viewed as linear, but as interactive pieces that inform and impact one another.