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Procedure: Workforce planning


To establish the procedures for workforce planning.


  1. Workforce planning is part of the overall process of developing a sustainable workforce in accordance with the developing a sustainable workforce policy, which requires a:
  • workforce plan that identifies broad current and future workforce needs; and
  • succession plans which identify specific replacement strategies at an individual staff or group level.
  1. To develop a sustainable workforce, the University will need to consider the current and future workforce needs and continuously shape the workforce to ensure that it is capable of delivering University objectives now and into the future
  2. Workforce planning is a process that is focused on understanding current and future workforce needs and taking steps to ensure these needs are met. It is a continuous process of shaping the workforce to ensure that it is capable of delivering University objectives now and into the future. This includes:
  • understanding the characteristics of the current workforce;
  • identifying key risks and issues in delivering on the university's strategic objectives;
  • deciding what work needs to be undertaken and how it would be best undertaken;
  • understanding how many staff are required and their key capabilities, and where staff can be sourced from; and
  • developing approaches that minimise or resolve the risks or issues.
  1. Ensuring the University has the right people with the right skills at the right time is critical to meeting the University's research and education objectives, as well as meeting staffing and financial budgets. Effective workforce planning will enable the University to respond well to changes in priorities, emerging skills needs, staff turnover, development of staff and career planning and retention of critical staff skills.

Developing a College/Divisional workforce plan

  1. Developing a workforce plan involves a structured and systematic analysis of the current and future workforce, issues and risks and an assessment of existing strategies and the development of new strategies to ensure leadership continuity and sustainable teaching and research activities.
  2. The workforce plan will need to be integrated and aligned with the College/Division strategic and operational plans, including but not limited to:
  • the ANU strategic plan;
  • College/Division strategic plans;
  • Research Committee and Education Committee priorities;
  • annual executive planning priorities; and/or
  • marketing and development priorities.
  1. A College/Divisional plan will normally state the direction of the College/Division for a period of up to five years, specifically defining what research themes and priorities will be pursued and which others may need to be reviewed for relevance and impact. Similarly the plan will define existing and new educational programs and offerings. These two components (research and education) will then determine in broad terms, the critical resource issues (e.g. budget, staffing, accommodation, etc.) and their phasing over the planned period.
  2. A College/Divisional plan should also anticipate the future workforce needs - who is retiring and when, how will talent is sourced, new areas opening in the discipline, what is unsustainable – and have a view of what is the best case, worse case and most probable.
  3. A College/Divisional plan which includes workforce planning does not replace individual performance planning and discussions, or even budgeting and financial planning. A workforce plan supports the College/Division strategic objectives and resource decisions to ensure that future staffing arrangements are sustainable and integrated, rather than merely opportunistic (at best) or ad-hoc.

Step 1: Developing a current workforce profile

  1. The methodology utilised in preparing a workforce profile may involve quantitative and qualitative data relying on electronic and documentary data sources, surveys, focus groups / workshops, and semi-structured interviews.
  2. A workforce profile will generally include basic workforce information, and may include:
  • number of staff by full-time equivalent and headcount;
  • workforce by employment type;
  • workforce by age;
  • workforce by employment type and age;
  • workforce by location and age;
  • workforce by gender and employment type;
  • workforce by gender and age;
  • workforce by age and employment type;
  • workforce by tenure and employment type;
  • workforce by high risk areas;
  • vacancies;
  • turnover;
  • workload trends; and
  • other relevant workforce demographics specific to the College/Division.

Step 2: Identifying the key workforce risks and issues

  1. Relying on the workforce profile and consultation with key stakeholders, an assessment of the key workforce issues and risks should be undertaken.
  2. The University's Entity-wide Risk Profile and Risk Assessment Matrix may provide assistance in identifying, analysing and managing the risks and issues to be addressed.

Step 3: Identifying future workforce needs

  1. Future workforce needs will be based on the impact of a number of factors, and may include:
  • changes in research funding / student numbers / service use;
  • changes in government research priorities;
  • growth/decline in available budget; and/or
  • introduction of new programs or services, an expansion of existing programs or services, or a change to existing delivery.
  1. All expansion initiatives will need to be accompanied by an identification of the workforce implications, both additional workforce requirements and effects upon the existing workforce.

Step 4: Developing strategies

  1. The development of strategies to address the identified workforce risks and issues should focus on relevant structural or style elements e.g. chronologically (now, soon, later), function (teaching, research, governance), disciplines, or even an inputs-process-outcomes map (for staff, IT, accommodation, or students).
  2. The strategies developed need to be integrated and consistent with existing plans' goals (individual and organisational) so that there is no inherent conflict or confusion.
  3. A process of identifying and grouping issues and ranking their importance (e.g. using a simple matrix to plot Likelihood by Impact) will clarify what needs to be addressed now, addressed soon or addressed later. It could be that a small decision taken early will avoid the need for dramatic action taken later. Additionally, it could be a range of simple decisions taken sooner will avoid the need for complex arrangements being unpicked or corrected later.

Reviewing & evaluating

  1. The Human Resources Division will evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of the ANU's workforce planning framework on an annual basis.

Further information

  1. Further information on workforce planning at the University may be accessed from the Workforce Planning webpage.


Printable version (PDF)
Title Workforce planning
Document Type Procedure
Document Number ANUP_000808
Version 4
Purpose To establish the procedures for workforce planning.
Audience Staff, Staff-Professional, Staff-Academic
Category Administrative
Topic/ SubTopic Staff - Employment of Staff
Effective Date 25 Jul 2016
Review Date 31 Dec 2017
Responsible Officer Director, Human Resources
Approved By: Chief Operating Officer
Contact Area Human Resources Division