Workforce of One: Revolutionizing Talent Management Through Customization

  • 5h 26m
  • David Smith, Susan M. Cantrell
  • Harvard Business Press
  • 2010

Companies have excelled by treating customers as "markets of one"-offering them personalized buying experiences. But in managing talent, most firms still use one-size-fits-all HR practices. With today's diverse workforces, this approach is preventing organizations from attracting, retaining, and leveraging top talent.

In Workforce of One, Susan Cantrell and David Smith show how exceptional companies are tailoring work experiences to employees' talents and interests-customizing job duties, training, recognition, and even compensation, work schedules, and performance appraisals. Their reward? Lower turnover, greater productivity, improved profit margins.

The authors present four customization strategies:

  • Segmenting your workforce; for example, by life stage and learning style
  • Offering modular choices; e.g., choices regarding rewards, learning needs, or job duties
  • Defining broad and simple rules, such as evaluating work by outcomes, not time invested, or hiring for potential in addition to specific skills
  • Fostering employee-defined personalization, whereby employees define their own people practices (e.g., using peer-to-peer technologies to learn from one another)

Drawing on extensive proprietary research, the authors explain how to combine aspects of all four strategies to address your organization's unique needs.

Improving workforce performance through customized work experiences is the holy grail of the HR function. This book shows you how the workforce-of-one approach positions your company to win-while transforming your HR team into a strategic powerhouse.

About the Authors

Susan M. Cantrell is a Fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance and President/CEO of The Cantrell Group, a research and consulting organization. Susan is an award-winning author who has written or cowritten over thirty articles or book chapters for such publications as the Wall Street Journal, MIT Sloan Management Review, Strategy & Leadership, Across the Board, Strategic HR Review, and Talent Management magazine. Her work has been widely referred to in publications such as the Financial Times, CIO magazine, and Les Echos. Susan has been a regular contributor to Outlook Journal, an Accenture client-focused publication, and has authored over fifty Accenture white papers, management reports, and research notes. She has been a judge on award panels for publications such as BusinessWeek and is a frequent speaker on improving human performance at work.

David Smith is a Managing Director of the Accenture Talent & Organization Performance practice. He specializes in designing and developing talent and organization performance strategies and solutions for clients. David has more than twenty years’ experience working across the broad Accenture client base serving Fortune 500 companies. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events, has authored or coauthored several articles and papers, and is sought after to contribute his opinions and viewpoints on talent management and organization performance issues in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, T+D, HR News, and Talent Management magazine. David also is a regular contributor to the Accenture client-focused journal of high performance, Outlook Journal.

In this Book

  • Workforce Of One—Revolutionizing Talent Management Through Customization
  • Introduction
  • The New Management Imperative
  • Segment Your Workforce
  • Offer Modular Choices
  • Define Broad and Simple Rules
  • Foster Employee-Defined Personalization
  • Designing Your Own Workforce of One
  • Workforce of One Challenges and Solutions
  • A Call to Action for HR—Building Your Workforce of One Capability
  • The Future of Workforce of One
  • How Many Employees Have Customized Work Experiences?
  • Notes