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Useful terms

Learn more about commonly used workforce planning terminology.

Workforce segmentation is grouping your workforce by similar characteristics.

Some approaches to workforce segmentation can include:

  • Role-based or job family: Jobs are segmented by the type of work performed, for example, customer service officers, machine workers, administrative support, or by similar occupational groupings such as accountants, engineers or carpenters. This approach allows you to identify and focus on the skills and capabilities that are important to your business.
  • Employee-based: Segmentation can be by demographic such as work location, gender or age profile.  This approach can inform workforce risks from potential workforce availability by these segments.
  • Business structure: Many businesses display their workforce structure through an organisational chart, which is useful for demonstrating business units and reporting lines. However, organisational charts don’t show the skills and capabilities within the business, which is essential for workforce planning.

Workforce information covers a range of intelligence and data that exists or can be created about your workforce. This information can include:


  • Positions: How many are filled and vacant?
  • Positions: What positions have been budgeted for?
  • Resignations: How many and why?
  • Recruitment: How many positions, by type and reason for the particular role needed?
  • Diversity information: What is the diversity of your workforce in terms of age (including youth and mature age), gender, cultural background, declared disability?
  • Qualifications: What type of qualifications are required?
  • Skills: What specific skills are required?


  • Learning and development needs
  • Employee engagement
  • Work life stage (new to the workforce, early -, mid-, end-career workers)
  • Career aspirations
  • Individual worker intentions to stay or leave

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list of workforce information that a business may have available, it demonstrates the breadth of information that already exists or can be gathered to assist with workforce planning.

Workforce supply is the size of your current and future workforce. It takes into consideration employee turnover through resignations and retirements and how these affect the size of your workforce over time.

The Workforce Planning Connect Toolkit provides scenarios to assist you with this concept, if it is relevant to your business.

Workforce demand is the number of employees you will need today and into the future to deliver against your business plan.

There is a scenario within the Workforce Planning Connect Toolkit, as an example of workforce demand planning, if you would like further information.

A workforce gap occurs when there is a mismatch between supply and demand. That is, you do not have enough employees to meet your business needs or, in some cases, too many employees for your business needs.

Once you understand your potential workforce gap, you can then start planning to address it through relevant strategies and actions. Workforce Planning Connect resources assist you with mapping out your gaps and developing a plan to address them.

A workforce risk can be any workforce-related issue that can disrupt your businesses ability to deliver on its outcomes or outputs. It’s important to think about the level of risk to your business if you don’t have the right skills for your future business needs, people leave, or you don’t recruit the right people at the right time to achieve your goals.

Not having the right skills can sometimes be just as much of a risk as not having the right number of people.

Workforce risks can come from two main sources:

  • internal to the business through business strategy and direction, resources, workplace culture, business structure, workplace health and safety, leadership, resignations, and workforce skills and capabilities.
  • external to the business through market competition, disruptive technologies, economic environment, customer behaviour and industry trends.

By undertaking regular workforce planning, your business should be able to identify most workforce risks. Identifying and understanding workforce risks can involve a number of activities, including:

  • monitoring and analysing relevant workforce data that will impact on business delivery, such as high workforce turnover or unplanned absences
  • employee survey results that measure job satisfaction and future intentions to stay or go
  • number of vacant positions, including how long it takes for the new employee to commence.

Committing to monitoring and reporting workforce data and regularly reviewing your workforce plan will enable you to identify emerging issues as they arise and to adequately respond.