Queensland Health developed the strategic health workforce planning framework as a resource to assist health service organisations plan their workforce.
Strategic health workforce planners can guide their organisations through the planning process to develop a medium- to long-term workforce strategy.
Resources within the strategic health workforce planning framework include a Snapshot (PDF 431kB), step-by-step Guide (PDF 467kB), planning process and principles, Toolkit (PDF 678kB) of templates and several quick-reference factsheets.
The framework is set within the context of the healthcare system in Queensland. It features links to strategic, service and other planning processes.
The framework was developed from the strong foundation of published best practice methodologies, tools and templates on strategic workforce planning. Sources are acknowledged where appropriate.
What is strategic workforce planning?
Strategic workforce planning aims to position the workforce in a way that helps the organisation meet its strategic and service objectives. It involves a systematic process of evidence gathering, scenario planning, strategy development, action planning and review. The planning timeframe may be 5 to 10 years which differs from operational planning which typically has a shorter timeframe. Refer to the Factsheet: Strategic vs operational workforce planning (PDF 56kB) for further explanation about the two types of planning.
Strategic workforce planning processes should be closely integrated with the planning cycles for health services, capital works and digital and medical technology.
Strategic health workforce planners will use the process to develop strategies that target changes in various workforce characteristics over the medium- to long-term. These include capacity, capability, sustainability, diversity, design, culture, wellbeing and performance.
A key output of the planning process is an evidence-based workforce strategy. This document outlines a clear set of workforce priorities for the health service organisation. It also provides details of strategies to be implemented via action plans.
Refer to the Factsheet: What is strategic workforce planning? for an introduction to the key elements of strategic workforce planning.
The framework offers an evidence-based, cyclical strategic health workforce planning process with three steps:
- Understand the business
- Analyse the workforce
- Plan for the future
For the process to be successful, there must be a strong foundation of leadership, engagement and governance mechanisms and processes.
Each step incorporates essential activities that are built upon in the next step. Tools, templates and tips are available at each step. Click on the diagram for a closer look at the planning process.
The strategic workforce planning framework was developed for the health service delivery context in Queensland. It considers the broader strategic agenda set by the Commonwealth and State governments and by Queensland Health.
Refer to the Factsheet: Planning context for further information about the planning context in Queensland.
Strategic health workforce planners should acknowledge the complex system in which they operate as well as the impacts and influences of the broader sector. The final workforce strategy will reflect the current and emerging operating environment of the organisation.
The workforce strategy will feature strong links to the health service organisation’s strategic priorities and its service commitments and objectives. Interdependencies and touchpoints with other functional strategies, as well as broader system strategies, will also be recognised.
Key system strategies include Queensland Health’s Advancing Health 2026 (PDF 2.25MB) and System Outlook to 2026 (PDF 2.28MB). The system outlook identifies high level workforce priorities to transform, optimise and grow the workforce. Advancing health service delivery through workforce: a strategy for Queensland 2017-2026 (PDF 11.82MB) is also a key resource for strategic workforce planning.
The strategic health workforce planning framework is a resource to aid organisations in their planning. It was founded on a number of principles which should be referenced throughout the planning process.
Strategic health workforce planning principles
Successful strategic workforce planning focusses effort and attention on a limited number of improvement areas at a time. Each area is aligned to support and enable the achievement of critical, assessed, business and service outcomes.
The cyclical process of strategic workforce planning provides the opportunity for continuous improvement. New initiatives can reflect changes in the strategic direction of the organisation and in the delivery of healthcare services over time.
Effective strategic workforce planning links with other health planning functions to deliver on the strategic and service objectives of the business. Well-placed governance and consultation mechanisms support and enable genuine integration.
Strategic workforce planning is fundamentally about people. Culture, consultation, engagement and authentic and compassionate communication are key success factors in the planning process and these apply both within the health service organisation and its operating networks.
Strategic workforce planning is an opportunity to prepare for, and to create, the future of healthcare service delivery. It is a process which dovetails with new models of care, service models and new ways of working. It continually prepares the organisation for the evolving future of work.
Strategic workforce planning may add significant value to the medium- to long-term operation and effectiveness of your organisation. The Factsheet: Benefits and Challenges (PDF 57kB) highlights several factors to consider as you commence your planning journey. The tips below also offer some final key messages to keep in mind.
- Plan within your capacity - Ideally, health service organisations work to develop, improve and integrate their strategic workforce planning systems over time. Workforce planners can start small and extend and improve planning systems, scope, evidence base and engagement levels, into the future.
- Adopt the principles - The framework incorporates a set of principles for strategic workforce planning: simplicity, improvement, integration, engagement, innovation and alignment. These are examined by workforce planners and brought to life throughout the strategic workforce planning cycle.
- Keep it real - Strategic workforce planning efforts should always aim to enhance the position and functioning of the workforce. The number and scope of strategies should, however, be realistic and achievable, matching the available capacity and capability.
- Measure, measure, measure - Strategic workforce planning involves identifying priority areas, strategies and actions. To effect any change, the strategy must have clear outcomes and appropriately-defined measures to assess and report on performance. These results can be used to inform further analysis and subsequent strategy development cycles.
For further information about strategic workforce planning for the health sector, including implementation of the framework, contact Workforce Strategy Branch, Department of Health at firstname.lastname@example.org.