07th December 2015 Written by Skills for Health

Andrew Lovegrove, Senior Consultant for Skills for Health, shares the proven Six Steps Methodology for workforce planning. Our approach helps ensure health organisations have the right number of staff with the right skills to deliver cost effective, high quality patient care.

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Step 1 – defining the plan

The critical first step

Identify the:

  • Purpose - why a workforce plan is needed and what it will be used for
  • Scope – will it cover a single service area or a whole health economy?
  • Ownership – who is responsible for planning, delivering and implementing?

Step 2 – Mapping Service Change

Step 2 is linked with steps 3 and 4. This is to identify the purpose and shape of any proposed service change and how it will impact on future workforce requirements

Identify the:

  • Benefits of change – consider current costs and outcomes
  • Drivers and barriers – what/who will support or hamper change
  • Working models – carry out an option appraisal to establish the most achievable model

Step 3 – Define the required workforce

Now you need to map the new service activities, identify the skills needed to undertake them and the types and numbers of staff required.

Consider an activity analysis, looking at:

  • Types/numbers of staff required to best carry out particular activities
  • New ways of working to reduce costs and improve the patient experience
  • The need to develop new roles or upskill existing staff

Step 4 – Understanding Workforce Availability

Once you have identified the need to need to determine the present and future staff availability based on current workforce supply.

Map out the current workforce in terms of:

  • Existing skills
  • Demographics – age profile/turnover
  • Supply options - retraining, redeployment and/or recruitment

Consider revising steps 2 and 3 based on the immediate availability of staff with required skills or the shortage of such staff.

Step 5 – Developing an Action Plan

Develop a plan to deliver the right staff with the right skills in the right place and manage any changes.

Reflect on the previous three steps and determine the most effective way to:

  • Ensure availability of staff to deliver redesigned services – this may require further service redesign
  • Prioritise activity – pinpointing milestones and timescales for delivery
  • Measure success – set realistic, measurable and achievable targets
  • Manage change – by developing solutions for anticipated problems
  • Build momentum – by informing the workforce and stakeholders

Step 6 – Implement, monitor and revise

The final step features three vital elements:

  • Implementation – making the plan a reality
  • Measuring progress – against timescales and targets
  • Revisiting the six steps – periodically to reflect any unplanned changes or to respond to a change in the purpose or scope of the workforce redesign.

If you would like to find out more about the Skills for Health’s Six Steps Methodology for workforce planning and to discuss how we can help you and your organisation in more detail please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact your regional director.