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Strategic Planning for Human Resources Professionals

Not long ago, the function of human resources was predominantly administrative within organizations. Its narrow focus was on employee recruitment and selection of available talent, as well as administering employee benefits and performance reviews. However, in the past two decades, we have seen a shift to a much more critical strategic planning function, aligned with the mission and business objectives of organizations. Today, human resources (HR) managers and executives are organizational leaders whose primary purpose is to develop and implement programs that solve business problems by attracting and retaining the right talent and applying proven methods of human resource allocation.

A Strategic HR Plan Supports Organizations’ Long-Term Visions and Growth Projections

A strategic HR plan aligns departmental capabilities with organizational goals and corporate strategies to achieve them. It is a critical planning document developed through a comprehensive process that includes the identification of gaps between human resources needs and current capabilities as well as gap strategies and plans for tracking progress. An effective plan is concise and specific. Well-integrated with the organization’s strategic plans, the HR plan ensures the right people with the right skill sets will carry out the business strategies.

The hiring component typically includes a spreadsheet with associated financials and budgets for each role and department. It also specifies the parameters of the employer’s brand, the characteristics and sources of good hires and other details needed to compete for top talent. The retention and employee performance components deal with succession planning, training, employee evaluations, bonuses and incentives, benefits and improving company culture and employee satisfaction.

A comprehensive strategic plan also clarifies the mission and scope of each business unit and how each contributes to the larger organizational goals. Because human resources is integral to the process, the department is ideally situated to implement and monitor these plans, as well as the comprehensive integration of HR and corporate planning.

HR Professionals Face Challenges and Opportunities

Most human resources professionals report that strategic planning is a part of their responsibilities in large corporations where HR leaders participate in strategic decision-making. However, HR professionals in many medium and small organizations are not typically as involved in organizational or functional strategic planning. To be a key player in the organization’s strategic planning process, some HR departments may need to convince senior management of their value and contribution.

Once engaged in the strategic planning process, HR professionals must apply their training in order to anticipate future problems and solve current issues. These can include handling internal and external business disruptions, managing the costs of maintaining a highly productive workforce, keeping employees focused on both day-to-day responsibilities and organizational goals and providing executives with the right tools to implement their initiatives.

The MBA in Human Resource Management Online Develops Strategic HR Leaders

Graduates of the online Master of Business Administration in Human Resource Management program from Northwest Missouri State University (Northwest) are in high demand for their expertise and skill sets in collaborating with company executives to implement effective strategic human resource plans and integrate them with organizational goals. Students in the program learn fundamental concepts in employee training and professional development, staffing models, recruitment, retention, decision-making and compensation and benefits plans.

Key courses in strategic HR planning include the following:

Managerial Economics: This course focuses on the application of economic analysis to managerial decision making. The course applies basic economic theory to day-to-day business decisions and long-run strategy and explores how economics affects the firm and the external environment in which the firm operates. Topics include: economic models, supply and demand theory, elasticity, regression analysis, firm and consumer behavior, production functions, cost analysis, forecasting, and firm organization and structure.

Business Decision Analysis Tools: This focuses on the application of mathematical and statistical methods to business decision-making in the various fields of business. 

Organizational Training and Development: This course explores the fundamentals of training and development for complex organizations, focusing on needs assessment, transfer of training, learning environment design, methods and evaluation.

Advanced Human Resource Management: This course gives an overview of HR management with a concentration on recruitment, selection, training/development and compensation. 

The program prepares graduates for a variety of strategic HR leadership opportunities including human resources manager, senior human resources consultant, VP of human resources, employee relations manager and compensation and benefits manager.


The human resources landscape for organizations of all sizes continues to evolve as accelerating trends in culture, technology and finance make HR management even more critical to organizational goals. As more professionals get the training to integrate human resource planning with business planning, they develop the aptitudes necessary to build the most successful and sustainable team dynamics for their businesses.

Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University’s online MBA in Human Resources program.

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