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Personnel planning:
Definition, tasks & targets

Personalplanung und Personalbeschaffung

Personnel planning for today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow

Where is your company heading in the coming years? And what does it take to achieve new company objectives? Corporate planning is closely linked to personnel planning. Depending on the orientation of your company the staff will also change. You need to find personnel in the short, medium and long term to have the required and professionals and managers available at the right time.

To ensure that your employees have an equal workload at any time, it is the task of the HR department to strategically plan your personnel and identify both needs and potential savings. Although it is not always easy to look ahead, internal factors such as planned sales targets, absences, parental leave or retirements can help identify trends in your workforce. Align your personnel planning with the resulting gaps, amongst others.

Personnel planning definition: The difference between operational, tactical and strategic personnel planning

Personnel planning is about ensuring that a company has the right number of employees with the required skills to achieve its strategic targets. It is part of corporate planning and includes the forecast of future personnel requirements, recruitment and training of employees as well as the management of employee relations.

A wide variety of methods and measures, such as job analyses, job descriptions, personnel planning tools and succession planning help to carry out the personnel planning.

In order to respond to external factors such as the economic situation, political changes, technological developments and legal requirements at any time, personnel planning is divided into three different areas:

Strategic personnel planning:

for objectives in the next five to ten years

Tactical personnel planning

for objectives in the next one to five years

Operational personnel planning

for all short-term objectives (within the next year)

Personnel planning objectives

The aim of effective personnel planning is to employ enough people in a company to achieve the company’s objectives while maintaining employee motivation and satisfaction at the same time. The big challenge is to continuously adapt personnel planning measures to the company developments.

In order to determine the staff requirements for each department, department managers, members of the management board as well as the relevant HR employees should work together on a precise objective. It is necessary to clarify the following:

  • Which positions do we want to fill?

  • What are the required qualifications?

  • How many people do we need?

  • Are we looking for young professionals or experts with many years of experience?

  • Do we need permanent staff or just employees for the duration of a project?

Are you looking for specialists and executive managers at short notice to overcome bottlenecks or even fill gaps? We will be happy to advise you.

Benefits of workforce planning

The better you manage to plan your personnel requirements, the more efficient your company runs. You will know at an early stage where personnel is lacking – so that you have enough time either to train your own personnel or to look for qualified specialists and executive managers. Ensure business goals with further workforce planning benefits:

Corporate goals through personnel planning

  • You always have enough qualified employees to complete the upcoming tasks.

  • You avoid high personnel costs because there are hardly any bottlenecks that you have to fill with external personnel.

  • You neither hire too many, nor too few employees. Short-term dismissals are not required. This will enhance the confidence of your workforce – the employee satisfaction increases.

  • Employee development is part of personnel planning and appealing to potential applicants. Attract new talents and strengthen your employer brand with development opportunities within your company.

  • You train highly qualified personnel and retain it to your company. Keep up with technological developments and do not resort to expensive service providers.

Personnel planning tasks

Optimising the current and future workforce is probably the most crucial task of personnel planning. In close cooperation with the management board and the specialist departments, the workforce planning is divided into the following sub-areas:

How many employees are currently hired in your company and especially in the departments? In workforce planning, you map the current state of the staff – an important basis to better plan personnel requirements. This is because the average age as well as the employment relationships (permanent employment, part-time, internships, etc.) also provide information about when you require which personnel.

How many employees are currently hired in your company and especially in the departments? In workforce planning, you map the current state of the staff – an important basis to better plan personnel requirements. This is because the average age as well as the employment relationships (permanent employment, part-time, internships, etc.) also provide information about when you require which personnel.


How will your company be positioned for the future? How much staff do you need in any year(s)? In workforce planning, you analyse the target state.

Our tip: Nobody knows what the world will look like in a few years. Therefore, adapt your planning to current developments according to your experience.

How will your company be positioned for the future? How much staff do you need in any year(s)? In workforce planning, you analyse the target state.

Our tip: Nobody knows what the world will look like in a few years. Therefore, adapt your planning to current developments according to your experience.


If your workforce planning shows that you need additional employees, start recruiting. You can fill vacancies internally or externally.

For internal replacements, empower current staff for a new job. However, this may result in a gap at the original workplace. So, you would only shift this gap. Internal replacement is often more cost-effective and quicker to implement.

When recruiting external personnel, you must first recruit qualified specialists and managers for your busines, e.g. by means of social media recruiting. Once you have found the right employees, there is often a lengthy onboarding process before the new personnel is fully trained.

If your workforce planning shows that you need additional employees, start recruiting. You can fill vacancies internally or externally.

For internal replacements, empower current staff for a new job. However, this may result in a gap at the original workplace. So, you would only shift this gap. Internal replacement is often more cost-effective and quicker to implement.

When recruiting external personnel, you must first recruit qualified specialists and managers for your busines, e.g. by means of social media recruiting. Once you have found the right employees, there is often a lengthy onboarding process before the new personnel is fully trained.


Whether it be current or future staff, your employees should always be informed about important innovations or technologies and should be willing to take up of further training. There is a wide variety of opportunities for personnel development both professionally and personally. For this reason, extra occupational training or internal and external training courses are available to keep your employees up to date or prepare them for new tasks.

Our tip: Further training opportunities for your employees do not always have to be expensive. Benefit from the know-how of your specialists and create some space for professional exchange. Besides that, an in-house library or access to online tools such as Udemy and Blinkist give your employees the opportunity to take up further training independently.

Whether it be current or future staff, your employees should always be informed about important innovations or technologies and should be willing to take up of further training. There is a wide variety of opportunities for personnel development both professionally and personally. For this reason, extra occupational training or internal and external training courses are available to keep your employees up to date or prepare them for new tasks.

Our tip: Further training opportunities for your employees do not always have to be expensive. Benefit from the know-how of your specialists and create some space for professional exchange. Besides that, an in-house library or access to online tools such as Udemy and Blinkist give your employees the opportunity to take up further training independently.


Parting with personnel is often a cause of concern for the management and HR employees. And yet, automated processes, restructured departments or a lack of orders often leave employers with no other choice. However, there are employee-friendly alternatives that you can take into consideration in your staff release planning.

Consider whether, in some cases, the following options may also help in case of a workforce overload (you have more personnel than required):

  • Internal change

  • Reduced working hours

  • Reducing overtime

  • Short-time working

  • Early retirement

Parting with personnel is often a cause of concern for the management and HR employees. And yet, automated processes, restructured departments or a lack of orders often leave employers with no other choice. However, there are employee-friendly alternatives that you can take into consideration in your staff release planning.

Consider whether, in some cases, the following options may also help in case of a workforce overload (you have more personnel than required):

  • Internal change

  • Reduced working hours

  • Reducing overtime

  • Short-time working

  • Early retirement


Work peaks or order fluctuations do not always have to be covered by new personnel. Deploy your employees according to their skills and where they are most urgently required. The aim of personnel deployment planning is to have sufficient staff with adequate skills at any time.

Work peaks occur, for example, during the Christmas season in retail, during popular vacation times, or due to fluctuating order volumes in the industry. These can best be covered by different working time models. For example, offer your employees to work less during weaker periods and to invest the time saved during work peaks.

However, you should also keep age-related restrictions of your employees in mind when it comes to your personnel deployment planning, as well as the legislation on working hours, company and collective agreements and the preferred working times of your employees.

Work peaks or order fluctuations do not always have to be covered by new personnel. Deploy your employees according to their skills and where they are most urgently required. The aim of personnel deployment planning is to have sufficient staff with adequate skills at any time.

Work peaks occur, for example, during the Christmas season in retail, during popular vacation times, or due to fluctuating order volumes in the industry. These can best be covered by different working time models. For example, offer your employees to work less during weaker periods and to invest the time saved during work peaks.

However, you should also keep age-related restrictions of your employees in mind when it comes to your personnel deployment planning, as well as the legislation on working hours, company and collective agreements and the preferred working times of your employees.


Labour law regulations for personnel planning

Does your company have a works council? If so, it must be informed about current and future personnel planning in accordance with § 92 of the Works Council Constitution Act (BetrVG). This refers to current and future personnel requirements in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

The works council has a comprehensive right to information and consultation in connection with personnel planning, although it has no enforceable right of co-determination. This refers to the processes of workforce planning, personnel requirements planning as well as personnel development and personnel deployment planning.

The works council is also entitled to propose the introduction and realisation of personnel planning if it does not yet exist in your company. If this happens, you are obliged to implement a personnel planning.

Instruments of strategic personnel planning

Where do you see your company in five years? What qualifications should your personnel have and how do you find the right professionals and managers until then? Counter the shortage of skilled workers in the long term as well as strategically and attract tomorrow's workforce today. Ensure a strong employer brand as well as a high level of satisfaction of your employees.

With these measures, you will succeed in strategic personnel planning:

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  2. Employer branding

    Look at your company as a brand that stands for values which you convey to the outside world. And that's exactly how you should make yourself visible. Due to your long-term personnel planning, you know which competences are required in the future, which skills new employees should have and when this know-how will be required in your company. Start promoting your company on social media, as part of the university marketing or through employee programmes as early as possible.

    That is to say: Regularly inform your target group about the latest news in your company, offer exciting insights into everyday work, take part in discussions and be open for social media requests. Moreover, share your job ads on social media and adapt your application process to the current opportunities. For example, allow your applicants to apply directly with their LinkedIn profile – you will find out if you really match in a personal meeting.

    What is certain: Don't wait for the moment when you need staff urgently. Offer candidates the opportunity to apply speculatively and find out how and if you want to work together. Always remember that, in case of doubt, it is more favourable to hire future specialists and managers "too early" than not finding the required staff when needed and having to search for half a year or more. You can also build your own talent pool from current applications that you can access at any time.

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  4. Knowledge management

    No matter how many employees you employ, you can only achieve your business goals if they have the required skills. But who has an overview of all the qualifications of your employees? To do this, build a database in which you set up a skills profile for each colleague. This makes it easy to see what expertise is available and what know-how needs to be built up first. Grant the specialist departments access to this list and ask for feedback. Perhaps an employee already has the required qualification that you did not know about. Then you can assign them directly to a new task.

    However, you should also provide your employees with further training programmes, especially in areas for which there are is no educational training so far. The area of digitalisation, for example, is extremely fast-paced: What is up-to-date today may already be obsolete tomorrow. Prepare your employees for these changes and future new tasks with further training programmes. This will help you counteract the shortage of skilled workers and prevent dismissals of qualified employees.

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  6. Staff retention

    Do you work with qualified employees that you cannot do without in the future? Then do everything you can to retain them. By offering extra benefits, financial incentives or even individual promotion, you can noticeably reduce the fluctuation.

    Above all, support colleagues who have a particularly high willingness to learn and offer them incentives to develop further within your company and work together to achieve the company's objectives.

Strategic personnel planning only works in close cooperation

Inform your management regularly and especially early on about developments in the job market, but also where action is required within your company.

Conversely, you should always be informed about the business objectives as well. Which business units are being expanded? Which products are important flagships? And most importantly: What do the sales forecasts show? This information is the basis of your work in personnel planning. From this, you derive how many employees you need, what qualifications will be required in the future, how you can continuously train your employees and what measures  are necessary.

If you ever run out of arguments to support your actions, prove the impact of your personnel planning in the best possible way. Use figures to show possible future scenarios.

Do you want to attract experts for tomorrow today? We help you find suitable candidates.


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