You took great pains to create your business plan. You developed a strategic vision. But there's one other plan businesses often overlook: a human resources (HR) plan.

An HR plan gets your people ready to execute on your business strategy and goals. It helps you prepare your current staff and anticipate the people you'll need to add in the future. It preps your business for employee turnover and your managers for making future hiring decisions more strategically. A good HR plan should also include a succession plan, so you can limit disruptions to your business should there be a change in management or structure.

Here are four critical steps to creating an effective HR plan for your company.


1. Assess your current workforce

Your first step in strategic HR planning is identifying your current employees' knowledge, skills and abilities. This includes evaluating your employees' strengths, education levels and additional training or certifications.

But you shouldn't stop there. You should also consider what talents they have beyond their current job descriptions. For example, your data entry employee may also have a knack for building customer relationships. You can pick up on these less obvious talents by getting to know your employees through regular conversations - both formal and informal.

Having a system (like an interactive organizational chart) to capture and archive your employees' information can make keeping track of your employees' talents easier. At the same time, your employees will feel more valued if it's clear that you're making note of their strengths. Performance reviews can also help you determine when employees are willing and able to assume additional responsibilities.


2. Create employee development plans

The top reason employees stay with a company is they feel challenged by their work, according to an Aberdeen report. In fact, 34 percent reported that they are sticking with their current employer because they foresee an opportunity to be part of the future growth of the company.

To make a real impact, your employees' work needs to support the company's growth goals.

You can do this by making an employee development plan for your employees. This will help you create clear direction on how to increase their skills and advance their careers so that your business can forge ahead. Follow these steps to help make sure your employees' development plans are on point. (Learn more about employee development plans here.)


3. Perform a gap analysis

A gap analysis helps you identify what resources your company has and what you'll need in the future. When performing a gap analysis, you'll assess your HR practices and infrastructure to determine where your company is falling short. For example, some of your HR practices may be designed to fit where your company was five years ago, but don't meet your needs today or where you plan to be soon. After a gap analysis, you can improve your current procedures and implement new practices that will better support your business's growth.

When conducting a gap analysis, take a look at your:

  • Job descriptions. Do they match the expectations you currently have for your employees and outline all the necessary skills and requirements?
  • Employee handbook. Have you reviewed and/or refreshed it in the last two years? Check to see if your policies are still aligned with employment laws. This is especially important if you've expanded into new cities or states where you may be subject to different regulations. When was the last time your employees read the handbook? Consider asking them to re-read it once you make updates.
  • Training programs. Are your employees being prepared for their roles in an organized way that still makes sense according to business needs?
  • Health benefits. Are you providing what is required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while also meeting the needs of your employees?
  • Sick days. New paid sick day standards are emerging across the country in a few states and a growing number of cities. Check the current sick-day laws to be sure you're in compliance.
  • Business performance. If revenue is climbing, it may make sense to up your contributions to your employees' retirement accounts or award more days of PTO, which will add value to your total rewards package. If revenue is down, consider scaling back on some of those benefits to help stabilize your business.

Review the information you have gathered about your current workforce. Do you have enough people? Do they have the right skills and know-how to help you achieve your business goals?

This information can help you decide what jobs need to be filled and who would be the best fit. From there, you can determine if you can promote from within or if you'll need to recruit new talent as your business grows.


4. Create a succession plan

With business growth comes change. It's inevitable. Whether it's a shift in the executive team or a reorganization of departments, you need to be prepared. A succession plan can help you minimize disruption by identifying critical roles in your business and employees who have the skills to immediately assume these positions, should someone leave.

You may choose to involve employees directly in creating your succession plan. This would mean having conversations with all of your employees to find out what their career goals are, where they see themselves in the future, and what development they feel they need in order to get there.

Remember: HR planning is an ongoing process. Your strategy should be reviewed regularly and updated as your organization changes.


Not sure how to get started? Get help. Find out how an HR outsourcing company can help you create an air-tight HR strategy that puts you on the path to success. Download our free e-book, A Step-by-Step Guide to HR Outsourcing.