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.
Books in Brief Summary in HR Magazine
"To improve productivity and effectiveness, authors Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith advise tailoring HR practices and policies to individual employees. Go far beyond just offering different benefits or flextime policies, they say—offer a whole menu of options for everything from performance reviews to job descriptions, all to keep employees at their best.
HR shouldn’t fear that its efforts to standardize procedures would go out the window if it embraces customization, the authors maintain in Workforce of One.
The book details four variations on customized practices and policies, backed by case studies from companies already using these ideas:
- Segmenting. Rather than trying to equalize everyone, HR can recognize differences and segment the workforce by attributes such as gender, ethnicity, job role, value to the organization, career aspirations and more. Different groups of employees have different needs and may require specialized options for how, when and where they work.
- Modular choices. Let employees pick options off a menu of choices, not just for benefits and work hours but also for learning, rewards, compensation, types of performance appraisals, career development and more.
- Broad and simple rules. The writers show how companies dropped rigid, detailed lists of competencies in favor of broader values or outcomes—for instance, setting a growth goal for a local store without dictating selling strategies to the store’s employees. Other ways to broaden rules include letting local managers control their rewards budgets, or defining the results expected from an employee but not defining when or where the employee has to work to achieve those results.
- Personalization. Let employees develop their own people practices. Some ideas are already familiar, including recruiting from among employees’ own contacts, mentoring and coaching. But others are more unusual, including letting employees define their own job titles, encouraging job swapping and job rotations, using trials or simulations to test candidates, and even auctioning jobs.
Cantrell and Smith weigh pros and cons of different approaches and help readers assess which options are right for their workplaces.
Readers get lessons in how four firms (a bank, two large retail chains and a global manufacturing giant) made their customization choices, mixing and matching from among the four approaches."
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