40 Workforce Planning Key Terms

40 Workforce Planning Key Terms

40 Workforce Planning Key Terms




Welcome to the high-stakes world of human resources, where strategic workforce planning isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a navigational star in the complexity of modern business. From talent acquisition to succession planning, there’s a lexicon unique to the HR professional, full of terms that drive the heart of organizational management. In this blog post, we’re unpacking 40 essential workforce planning terms to help guide you through the professional odyssey of building, maintaining, and optimizing your most valuable asset: your people.


These terms are not only jargon; they are the linchpins of successful HR strategies and the roadmap to a thriving, adaptive workforce. So, let’s dive in and bring some order to the HR alphabet soup.



1. Workforce Planning

The grand overture of our list, workforce planning is the strategic alignment of an organization’s human resources with its business plans to ensure it attains the optimal number of employees with the right skills at the right time.

2. Human Capital

Human capital refers to the competencies, skills, and knowledge of employees that can be developed in ways that benefit the organization.

3. Forecasting

Forecasting in HR involves predicting future workforce needs and trends based on internal and external factors so that the organization can prepare accordingly.

4. Demand Forecasting

This subset of forecasting focuses on estimating the number of employees needed at any given moment to meet organizational goals effectively.

5. Supply Forecasting

The flip side of demand forecasting, supply forecasting involves predicting the availability and the ‘flow’ of workers inside and outside of the organization, enabling an assessment of the skills and talent pool available.

6. Talent Management

Talent management is a comprehensive approach that includes attracting, identifying, developing, engaging, and retaining key employees within an organization.

7. Talent Mobility

In a dynamic work environment, talent mobility ensures that your workforce can redeploy skills and experiences across the organization to meet current and future business needs.


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8. Gen Y, Z, Baby Boomers…

Understanding the generational differences in your workforce ensures that HR strategies resonate with each group, all of whom have unique values, work styles, and expectations.

9. Succession Planning

This is the process of identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company.

10. Scenario Planning

Instead of predicting a single best feature, scenario planning involves considering multiple future states of the workforce, helping to minimize surprises and project-wise changes in direction.

11. Skill Gap Analysis

A comparison of the skills an organization needs and the skills its employees possess, skill gap analysis helps to determine the areas where skill development is necessary.

12. Competency Framework

This is a structure defined by the organization to assess the characteristics required to achieve business objectives at every level.

13. Recruitment Marketing

The strategic and data-driven method of attracting talent by marketing the company and its job opportunities in a competitive marketplace.

14. Cultural Fit

Ensuring new hires’ values and behaviors align with the organization’s culture to improve work performance and job satisfaction.

15. Employer Branding

Cultivating a company’s reputation as an employer of choice to create a favorable public and internal perception.

16. Onboarding

The process of integrating a new employee into the organization, familiarizing them with their role, their team, and the company.

17. Performance Management

This is the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities.

18. Employee Engagement

The emotional commitment employees have to the organization’s goals, which leads to discretionary effort.

19. Learning and Development (L&D)

The process of improving performance by expanding individual knowledge and skills in a directed way.

20. High-potential Employees (HiPo)

These are employees who are identified as having the ability and aspiration to rise to and succeed in positions of responsibility higher than their current one.

21. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Quantifiable measures that evaluate the success of an organization, employee, program, or process in meeting objectives.

22. Total Cost of Workforce (TCOW)

This is the sum of all costs associated with your employees and contingent labor. It encompasses more than just salary, including benefits, training, and HR administration.



23. Flexibility in the Workplace

Adaptability in how, when, and where work gets done, which can benefit employees as well as employers.

24. Outsourcing

Shifting of certain job functions or responsibilities to a third-party service provider for reasons such as cost reduction, service quality, and efficiency.

25. Insourcing

Opposite to outsourcing, insourcing focuses on assigning jobs to personnel within the same company.

26. Rightsizing

An HR term which refers to reducing the size of the workforce by streamlining the operations and workflow of a company.

27. Workforce Analytics

The application of statistical models to workforce-related data to analyze and understand the implications of workforce management practices.

28. Workforce Scorecard

This is used to strategically align HR activities, including, training, performance management, and staffing with the desired outcomes of the organization.

29. Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

The balance of the rewards and recognition that the company offers in exchange for employees’ performance.

30. Remote Work

The ability to work from a location other than a traditional office, showing significant growth as digital tools become more pervasive.

31. Sourcing

The proactive searching for potential employees with the skill sets sought for the current job opening or future positions.

32. Cost Per Hire (CPH)

A recruiting metric that calculates the amount of money spent on hiring relative to the number of people hired.

33. Turnover Rate

The percentage of employees who leave an organization during a certain period.

34. Employee Retention

Strategies and efforts by employers to keep valuable employees and reduce turnover by supporting a positive work environment.

35. Workforce Development

An initiative to educate employees and develop their personal and professional skills in accordance with the organizational goals.

36. Workforce Planning Software

Technology designed to assist in the planning and management of an organization’s human capital.

37. War for Talent

The competitive landscape among companies to attract and retain the most skilled and cooperative employees.

38. Layoff Avoidance

Moving away from immediate layoffs by taking proactive and strategic measures in workforce planning to address economic downturns.

39. Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

Embracing a range of human differences and ensuring all employees feel included and respected.

40. Workforce Planning Model

A structured approach to workforce planning that outlines its steps, actions, and strategies to align the workforce and business needs effectively.


As you let these 40 terms sink in, it is not just about adopting a new vocabulary; it’s about embracing an evolved mindset. Workforce planning is an art and a science, requiring deep dives into data, culture, and strategy. The terms we’ve explored are mere signposts in this vast and ever-evolving landscape. They can be wielded to empower your HR initiatives or, if misunderstood, could be the unforgiving trellises on which your strategic vines wither.

It is your expertise, enriched by a command of these terms, that will steer your organization through the maze of contemporary challenges. By leveraging these concepts, you’re not only enhancing the way you manage your workforce but also strengthening the vital link between human capital and the company’s long-term success.

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