How to Create a Strategic Staffing Plan for 2023

Woman with a pen in her hand creating a staffing plan on a white sheet of paper

Staffing plans are an essential tool in businesses of all types and sizes. When your business is growing or changing, addressing your staffing needs is critical. If you wait too long to develop a hiring game plan, you risk not having the staff to keep up with operations or accomplish your goals. 

A staffing plan will help as the economy shifts and changes in this post-COVID world. It’s challenging to find the right talent and retain your current employees. Set yourself up for continued success by creating a strategic staffing plan. We’ll cover what’s included in a staffing plan and give you a step-by-step staffing plan template to follow as you map your talent needs for the future.

What is a Staffing Plan?

A staffing plan is an intentional strategy by which an organization identifies its personnel needs and takes action to fulfill them. The HR department typically leads the company in creating the staffing plan, through input may be gathered from departments across the organization. One year is a typical time frame for a staffing plan to cover. 

The purpose of a staffing plan is to directly identify not just a target headcount for personnel but the specific skills that will be required over the next 12 months. It identifies gaps between your current resources and your future needs and takes a tactical approach, focusing on using staffing to support and achieve the organization’s goals. The staffing plan will include employees, contractors, and consultants. 

Why Do I Need a Staffing Plan?

As a business, you undoubtedly have a set of goals in mind. Whether it’s to increase profit margins by a certain amount, capture a bigger market share, make a difference in your community, or any other organizational aspiration, you can’t achieve it without the right people. A staffing plan ensures you have the team in place to make your goals a reality.  

For example, one of your major business objectives for 2023 is to increase your customer satisfaction ratings by 20%. You know this can be achieved by decreasing wait times on your support calls and providing the product updates many customers have requested. 

You’ll need to increase the number of customer support agents to decrease wait times. Additionally, in order to provide product updates, you’ll need staffers with the appropriate technical expertise. By walking through this basic scenario, we’ve identified two hiring initiatives: onboard more support agents and acquire additional technical expertise. You’d want to address these needs in your staffing plan for the year ahead. 

Staffing plans are often created simultaneously or slightly ahead of budgets for the upcoming year. This ensures that when you need to hire, the financial resources to support it are available—another key argument for why you need a staffing plan.  

How Do I Create a Staffing Plan?

An effective staffing plan considers your operational needs, external and internal factors, available resources, and timing. Before crafting the staffing plan, you need to calculate your needs, so we’ve split the process into two parts. Follow these steps to gather all the necessary information and put it into a cohesive hiring roadmap. 

How to Calculate Staffing Needs

1. Evaluate your goals and gain a clear understanding

What are the organization’s overarching objectives for the next 12 months? You may have several, or there may be just one. Ideally, these goals should be defined before the staffing plan is put together to ensure buy-in from all necessary stakeholders. 

Looking at your goals, what needs to happen from a staffing perspective to achieve them? In the example we used earlier, we determined two specific staffing implications stemming from our goal of increasing customer satisfaction—hiring more customer service staff and identifying or hiring talent with specific technical skills. 

Similarly, you can use your goals to define the related staffing requirements. The larger your organization is and the more goals on your list, the more action items you’ll likely come up with here. Ensure that each department’s goals align with the organization’s goals.

Related: How to Set Achievable Staff Growth Goals

2. Analyze the market 

You’ll need to consider external factors that will impact your ability to hire. Is it a job seeker’s market or an employer’s market? What do the unemployment numbers look like in your field? Are there any imminent labor or skills shortages? What about legislation that will affect your industry? The Bureau of Labor Statistics, your state unemployment agency, and hiring industry blogs are all good resources for this step. 

While the factors you uncover may be largely out of your control, considering them will help you come up with a staffing plan that’s not only strategic but realistic, given the circumstances of the market. 

3. Consider internal factors

Next, turn your attention inward and consider the factors at play within your organization that will impact staffing. This might include things like attrition, terminations, potential promotions, and upcoming retirements. All of these will result in staffing holes that need to be filled. 

Additionally, look at your current labor costs and how they will change over the next 12 months. Raises, benefits, overtime, and bonuses will all contribute to your labor budget, which is a factor you’ll need to weigh when determining how many new hires are feasible and which roles will take priority.

Review the job descriptions and current openings to get a complete picture of where you currently stand. Check-in with your current employees to better understand the workplace culture and impacts on retention during this step. 

4. Anticipate staffing needs

Once you have a better understanding of the current internal and external factors at play, it’s time to consider what obstacles could impact your business over the next 12 months. Do you have a busy season where you need additional help? Is there a slow period you can utilize for training? 

Utilize the information on current productivity to help anticipate the needs. For example, if you plan to increase your sales by 15%, you’ll need to figure out what headcount adds will be needed to manage that increase. Don’t forget about additions on the management side to offset any additions. 

5. Identify gaps between available talent and future needs

In this critical step, you’ll carefully examine the talent you already have in-house with an eye for how it can be leveraged to meet the needs you defined in step one. Determine the discrepancies between the skills you need and what you have on staff. 

Sometimes, it’ll simply be a matter of headcount—your existing staff is running at max capacity, and you need more people. In other cases, the gaps will be more nuanced, like a niche technical skill you don’t currently have on staff or the need for the right kind of leader who can help the company navigate growth. 

This is an important staffing plan step because it helps clarify where you need new talent instead of where you can better leverage your already existing talent.

6. Weigh all options

Now that you have clearly defined hiring goals, you’ll need to determine the best type of employee to fill them. Remember: you’re not limited to full-time employees. Consider alternate staffing options like part-timers, contractors, consultants, and temporary hiring, which can help fill your needs without the added cost of a new full-time hire. 

3 Steps to Build a Staffing Plan

1. Build a staffing chart

Having a detailed chart of your staff can help people see where you are and get quicker buy-in for an updated staffing plan. This is an optional but often-helpful step in your staffing plan template that defines where each employee falls into your overall staffing hierarchy. It’s especially useful for identifying relationships between departments and roles and identifying where, if at all, there’s overlap between needs. 

Do sales and marketing have a shared need that could be filled by one new hire instead of two? Do you lack strong leadership in the IT department? A staffing chart will clarify these observations and help you set recruiting priorities for which hiring needs to address first.   

2. Map out a game plan

Finally, it’s time to create a concrete action plan to fill the future roles you’ve identified. What positions do you need to hire for right away? Which can wait a few months? What about six to twelve months from now? Which are must-haves and which would be nice to have if resources allow (and, importantly, who will make this decision)? Considering these questions will ensure you prioritize the most important team members and fill pressing needs before addressing less-urgent roles. 

When creating your game plan, be sure to accurately factor in how long it will take to advertise the position, screen, interview candidates, hire, and onboard someone into the role. Depending on that time frame, it may mean you need to post the job opening a lot sooner than you think. Accurate forecasting is just one reason knowing your average time to hire and other key metrics like cost per hire is so important.

Related: New Hire Checklist

3. Present staffing plan to stakeholders

The staffing plan impacts each department in the organization, so it’s important to present your plan to the leadership team. Keep it simple and allow people to ask questions when they want to dive deeper into a specific portion. Use visual aids to outline your priorities and how to address them.

Enlist the Experts to Bring Your Strategic Staffing Plan to Life

Whether you’re starting at step one and need a partner to build a staffing plan alongside you or just need help with the final step, hiring a professional staffing agency can be a valuable resource in putting the right team in place to achieve your goals. We specialize in helping businesses of all sizes hire for skill and fit, identifying talent who will grow with you and help advance your mission. 

We offer direct placement, contract staffing, temporary hiring, and administrative services like rapid onboarding to make your life easier. Our extensive network of relationships with passive and active candidates can help you reach untapped talent and even attract new hires from the competition, all done in a way that supports your overall business objectives.


What information is required to create a staffing plan?

To create a strong staffing plan, you need to know the business goals, the internal and external factors affecting the business and hiring, and be able to anticipate the needs of the business.

What is the first step in creating a staffing plan?

When working on a staffing plan, the first step is to review all the organization’s goals and ensure you understand them. The plan will ensure that the goals can be met, so you must ensure everything is clearly outlined.

How often should I create a staffing plan?

Typically, HR teams revisit staffing plans once a year when planning budgets and growth for the next 12 months. It’s a good idea to visit the plan monthly or quarterly to ensure you’re on track.

Who is responsible for creating a staffing plan?

The HR team will work with strategic leaders and partners within the business to gather the appropriate information to create a staffing plan. Once they gather the information, the HR team will assemble the plan and present it to the stakeholders.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn