How to Build a Strategic Human Capital Management Plan in 4 Steps

Human capital is the value that collective skills, knowledge, training and positive personality traits add to an organization. Human capital management (HCM) is the way you find, support, guide and use these literal human resources. The approach that an organization’s leadership and HR team take to HCM has the ability to affect everything from company culture and operations to employee satisfaction and talent recruitment. As such a powerful element to an organization’s infrastructure and growth plans, it’s critical that your human capital management plan be thoughtfully crafted and regularly maintained.

A smart and strategic human capital management plan should be comprehensive, outlining the general direction your organization wants to go, as well as the specific goals your HCM plan needs to meet. This plan should lead directly to the human capital strategies that your company will use to achieve its goals, and should include accountability measures to ensure the plan is not just working, but is effective. Let’s take a deeper dive into each of the components that a smart and strategic HCM plan must include.

1. SMART Goals

Human capital strategies underpin and support the organizational goals you have. From your long-term strategic vision to your short-term growth plans, your HCM plan is critical to realizing both. Think about it: if one of your goals is to expand to a new territory, you’re going to require leadership and managerial personnel to head it up. Similarly, if you’re breaking into a new market, you’ll need someone with subject-matter expertise in that specific area. Think about company goals such as:

  • Geographic growth whether regional, national or international
  • Employee retention, satisfaction and career path trajectory  
  • New product or service launches or company-wide pivots
  • Establishing expertise or ownership of a subject or service-line
  • Short-term plans about people, processes and technology
  • Long-term plans about financial goals, geography and clients

Having measurables in place around these strategic planning topics will help you determine your company’s human capital needs. Choose SMART goals which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based, to drive accountability and leave little up to debate or interpretation.

2. Ideal Candidate Profiles

A plan that’s not based on real information won’t be actionable; look at your company’s SMART goals, then look at the human capital resources needed to fulfill them—whether that means pulling from internal personnel or outside hires.

When it comes to meeting your company’s human capital needs, you need to look at the talent, skills and personality traits your organization is looking for. Build an ideal employee profile for open positions, or, if your company has many open positions, try having one ideal employee profile per department. Think about this person, and ask yourself and your HR teammates the following:

  • What roles do we need fulfilled?
  • Who do we imagine filling them?
  • What skills must this person possess?
  • What core values must they share with us?
  • What benefits, salary and company culture do we need to offer to attract this candidate?
  • Where does this candidate need to live?

3. Actionable Strategic Plans

Your company needs real ideas about how to make progress and move forward toward maximizing its human capital. What specific tasks will each employee or manager take on to make the company’s goals a reality? Break the goals down into smaller objectives, and the objectives into specific tasks. Delegate these tasks to make sure they are well-distributed and that each team member is delegated the tasks to which they’re best-suited.

Make sure that you have a measurable outcome for each objective. It’s not a bad idea to meet frequently to discuss plan implementation and what changes need to be made to your original implementation strategy. A good plan is as adaptable as it is actionable, so don’t be afraid to adjust objectives and tasks to meet goals in a timely and manageable fashion.

4. Candid Employee Communication

Making changes to your human capital and human resource management means you need to loop in existing employees. Whether big or small, the changes you make to benefits, compensation, talent management and acquisition and organizational structure affects every single one of your team members. Employees need to feel they know what’s going on in their workplace so that they feel included and satisfied with their position. Sometimes it’s better to err on the side of giving too many updates than too few, as you don’t want to gloss over any new information.

Opening up the lines of communication as you create your human capital management plan also gives you a valuable source of input: employees and other stakeholders may have needs that you haven’t considered, and introducing the changes you plan to make gradually gives them time to raise concerns or questions before it’s too late.

What’s Next?

Now that we know the components we need to assemble for a smart and strategic human capital management plan, it’s time to look for the tools to get the job done. You might find that human resources software like talent management technologies or human resources management programs are right for your company and could save you lots of time and energy by automating HR tasks.

Other tools you may want to look for are benefit plans and benefit administration services and talent acquisition resources that you can use to put your human capital plans into action. It takes a lot of personalization and searching, but, with the right tools and the right research, you can streamline your HCM and have your company hurtling towards its goals.


Human Capital Management (HCM), Gartner

Beyond Human Resources: 4 Ways to Improve Human Capital Management, Sammi Caramela

Key Components of a Strategic Human Capital Plan, United States Office of Personnel Management

Definition – What is a Human Capital Strategy, Sonia Pearson

Definition: Workforce Planning, Margaret Rouse

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