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December 6th, 2023 · 4 min read

How to use L&D to improve headcount planning

What is headcount planning?

  • Identify areas of opportunity for upskilling or reskilling employees to meet future staffing needs
  • Consider key employee metrics including turnover, growth and average tenure to accurately predict staffing trends
  • Recruit input from various departments and organizational levels to thoroughly understand staffing needs
  • Operate within an established labor budget to ensure you have sufficient funding in place for annual reviews

5 key benefits of headcount planning

  • Enabling strategic alignment between talent and organizational goals
  • Helping to manage labor costs by making sure that workforce plans are within budget and allocated appropriately to meet business goals 
  • Providing a cash flow roadmap, which is especially helpful for managing seasonal workers or bringing on temporary project-specific team members
  • Supporting succession planning by identifying and planning for key roles that need to be filled, especially those in leadership that might require more advanced skill sets 
  • Identifying current and future staffing needs, which highlights skills gaps and provides L&D with clear direction for developing inside talent to fill these gaps

The intersection of headcount planning and L&D

  1. Identify skills gaps
    Regular headcount planning allows HR and L&D professionals to examine the difference between current workforce representation and the skills they will need to meet future demand. This data should be used to inform L&D initiatives and ensure employees have all the resources they need to develop these skills now and in the future. 
  2. Fill future job openings from within
    Headcount planning can also shine a light on critical roles, such as those in leadership, that will need to be filled in the future. L&D plays an integral role in helping to supply an internal pipeline of high-potential talent that has the right skills to address these needs.
  3. Cross-train to improve workforce agility
    Unforeseen disruptions can throw headcount predictions wildly off course. That’s why it’s important to incorporate cross-training practices into your L&D strategy so that employees can step into any number of roles if the need arises. While this may not be possible for areas of the business that require highly specialized expertise, there are likely job functions that rely on more general skill sets. With this strategy in hand, even greatly unanticipated circumstances can be addressed quickly.

Make headcount planning a priority

You can address talent development challenges