How to Develop an HR Plan

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Contributed by Britta Howlett

Britta Howlett is a content marketing specialist for She enjoys traveling, eating sushi, learning new skills and helping people.

Britta Howlett is a content marketing specialist for

Human resource planning involves identifying the human resource needs your company requires to achieve its goals. The purpose of an HR plan is to empower your employees succeed at work, so a well crafted plan should result in more employe engagement and productivity.

Your HR plan should outline how to:

  • Hire new staff
  • Train employees
  • Pay staff (including salary and benefits)
  • Promote high performers
  • Deal with conflicts
  • Let go of underperformers
  • Handle routine paperwork

Your HR plan should focus on the long-term future of your company, however it should be flexible enough that you can resolve short-term challenges that come up.

1. Write Mission and Vision Statements for Your HR Department

To begin, write an HR mission and vision statement. Use these statements to clarify how your HR department will support your company’s goals.

Difference Between an HR Mission and Vision Statement

Your HR mission statement shows what your department does, while your HR vision shows where your department is going and how it will get there.

Refer to your company mission and vision statements and look for ways that your department can support the company’s goals. For example, if part of your company vision is to focus on sales, then your HR vision should include recruiting talented salespeople.

Examples of HR Mission and Vision Statements

Here’s an example of an HR mission statement:

This department exists to provide services in order to attract and retain committed employees. We are dedicated to providing a quality work environment for all our staff.

Here’s an example of an HR vision statement:

Our company culture encourages continuous improvement, supports work-life balance, fosters teamwork, and provides opportunities for employees to grow. We provide a healthy, happy, and professional environment so that all employees can succeed and grow within the company.

2. Determine Your Employee Needs

After writing a high-level mission and vision statement for your HR department, it’s time to dive into details. The next steps is to determine the needs of each employee.

Assess your employees’ skills.

Begin by assessing your employees’ skills, including their strengths and weaknesses. Consider everyone’s job descriptions and the talents they may have that go beyond their current roles.

It’s your responsibility to determine how each employee can grow in their positions. Not everyone will want to grow into new positions, but your entire staff should have ample opportunities for continuous growth so that the company can stay competitive.

Use formal and informal conversations.

Performance reviews are a great tool for assessing whether an employee is ready for more challenging responsibilities. You can use both formal and informal conversations to help you make the best decisions for each employee, following performance reviews best practices

Be sure to keep an organized chart of all employee evaluations so you can easily refer to it when needed.

If an employee is failing to meet deadlines, or their work quality is falling, you can implement a performance improvement plan (PIP). The plan will typically include corrective actions, resources to help the employee succeed, a timeline for reaching improvement milestones, and consequences for failing to meet expectations. Usually milestones are set at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days to give employees time to improve.

3. Determine Your Workplace Needs

The next step in creating an HR plan is to evaluate how your workplace is currently supporting your staff and gather ideas for what you can do better.

Assess all aspects of how you support employees.

To determine your workplace needs, assess your HR department’s strengths and weaknesses in the following categories.

  • Turnover rates and causes: Are your turnover rates high or low? What is causing this? What can you do to improve turnover?
  • Strategic goals: Do your employees and HR goals match the goals of the company as a whole? How can you better align them?
  • Laws and regulations: Are there any company policies that do not match federal or state laws? What needs to be fixed so that everything is legal?
  • Training plans: Do employees have the right training resources and leaders? What can you do to improve the quality of the training that employees receive?
  • Hiring and recruiting: How have your recent hires performed in their new jobs? Are you hiring the best talent? Are you spending too much time recruiting? Is there anything you can automate?
  • Onboarding: Do new hires have enough information, resources, and support to feel comfortable? Do you have an onboarding process?
  • Succession planning: Is there a succession plan? How confident are company stakeholders that it will be successful?

If you choose, you can rank each of these categories on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 indicates a weak area and 5 indicates a strength. You can also highlight in red any categories where there is particular urgency to improve.

4. Create Individual Employee Development Plans

One of the best ways to engage employees is to provide them with a development plan and regular coaching to help them succeed in their roles and advance within the company.

Steps to Create an Employee Development Plan

  1. Talk to each employee individually. Talk with your employees to learn about their skills, interests, and aspirations. Don’t assume you know this information just from past interviews. Take the time to have 1-on-1 meetings as well as casual conversations to learn more about each person.
  2. Clarify job skills needed. List what skills each employee needs for their current job positions, what skills they can optimize to be more effective, and what skills they should develop if they want to advance in the company.
  3. Find skill development opportunities. It’s important to integrate experiential opportunities for employees to hone new skills alongside the typical work your employees do in their current roles. You can give employees time to train with senior staff. You can ask managers to give employees stretch assignments. You can also run volunteer events to give employees leadership practice.
  4. Write out an employee development plan. Your plan should specify what the company will do to help the employee develop and what actions the employee should take to further their own development. Set specific responsibilities, expectations and goals. Make sure each plan you writes aligns with the needs and goals of the company, not just the employee.
  5. Gain your staff’s commitment. Review each employee development plan with each employee individually. See if your employees have any questions or feedback. If they’re happy with their development plan, ask if they think the goals you set are feasible. Then make a plan to meet back at a specific date to review progress.
  6. Secure support from management. Share your employee development plans with each employee’s respective manager. Ask managers to give their direct reports feedback on an ongoing basis to help staff succeed.
  7. Follow up with employees. Check in with each employee semi-annually to see how they’re doing and ask whether there is anything the company can provide to help them succeed.

5. Design a Succession Plan

A succession plan protects your business.

Unexpected changes will inevitably occur over time. Employees will quit. Unexpected health or behavior may require employees to take time off or resign. Someone who was once effective in a position may no longer be the best person for their role.

To protect your company, you need to maintain a steady stream of employees who have the right skills to replace individuals in higher positions.

Make and update a succession plan based on your interviews.

For any high-level roles at your company, use what you learned about your employees from interviews and conversations to determine who might fit into your company’s leadership positions should a need arise.

Depending on your company culture and circumstances, you can choose whether to create a succession plan with or without employee input. Generally it’s best to inform all employees of the succession plan you design so that people can prepare for roles they might one day take.

Be proactive with revising your succession plan when needed, perhaps on an annual basis.

6. Conduct a Gap Analysis

A gap analysis helps you to identify what resources you have and what resources you’re missing so that you can identify opportunities for improvement. You might have certain practices that worked 10 years ago but that don’t meet your organization’s needs today.

What to Include In Your Gap Analysis

When performing a gap analysis, take a look the following company assets.

  • Employee handbook: Have you updated your handbook in the least 2 years? Do any rules and guidelines need to change? Are your policies still aligned with regulations and how your company actually operates?
  • Job descriptions: Do your job descriptions clearly define your company roles including your requirements and expectations?
  • Health benefits: Are you meeting your employees’ needs? Do your health benefits align with the Affordable Care Act and any recent legislation?
  • Training programs: What programs do you have in place to ensure your employees are properly trained?
  • Paid time off and sick days: Do your employees have enough sick days? Is the paid time off that you offer competitive in your industry so that you don’t lose your best staff?

After you conduct a gap analysis, you can implement new practices to improve any deficits you discover.

7. Implement Your HR Plan

Once your HR department develops an HR plan, it’s essential to implement it! A surprising number of companies spend time and money on a plan only to leave it sitting in a drawer unused.

Get company leaders on board.

Implementing a plan can be tiring and confusing for employees. Getting your leaders on board will help your employees react positivity to any new systems or changes.

Start by meeting with your your company leadership to seek their input. Work with them until they’re excited about the plan and ready to implement it.

If your plan involves a lot of changes, it can be helpful to focus on implementing one change at a time so as not to overwhelm or overload your company’s staff.

8. Monitor Progress and Make Changes When Needed

HR planning is an ongoing process. Certain ideas will not work out. New regulations, industry changes, or business strategy adjustments can make parts of your plan obsolete sooner than you expect.

Troubleshoot and test new solutions.

If something isn’t working out, figure out what went wrong and adapt your plan accordingly. Be sure to communicate changes to anyone affected. Implement your adjustments and monitor the results again.

Eventually you will find what works best for your organization. Remember that change is good! Your work will help employees grow and succeed.


An effective HR plan will benefit your company’s employees and the company as a whole. It should increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction, decrease turnover, and ultimately boost profits.

Creating and implementing an HR plan requires diligence. Study other companies for inspiration, but most importantly study your company. Keep evaluation what is important to your employees and what they need to succeed.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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