Your Workforce. It has been said it many times, it is your workforce that drives your organization’s strategy. Few businesses have a Workforce Strategy. In fact, even among those that do less than 10% have workforce strategies that are aligned with the organization’s strategy. The Workforce is the one thing that any business has that cannot be duplicated by its competitors. The Workforce is the key to business success, yet, most businesses invest minimally in it and look at labor as something to be controlled or worse, to be reduced with an eye on reducing cost. In other words, businesses look at their Workforce as a means of cost control instead of as the path to amazing success. Not only do they need a Workforce Strategy, they need an appropriate one.
Why A Workforce Strategy?
Business has historically used the wrong perspective when it comes to a workforce strategy. Instead of focusing on how to execute strategy through the performance of the workforce, the common priority is cost control from the workforce.
This results in lower financial performance because maximization of workforce performance is not realized. The wrong HR metrics are used because HR is focused on operational efficiency and administrative compliance instead of the strategic value of its workforce.
What a business really needs is a WORKFORCE SUCCESS STRATEGY.
The strategic benefits of improved workforce performance represent a significant opportunity for overall business performance. Is not a “Throw money at the problem” solution, it is a long-term investment with a measurable return. It ends the long tired HR obsession with focusing on transactions involving recruiting and turnover. Instead, it focuses on the ability of the Workforce to deliver results in performance, productivity, profitability, and shareholder value. In other words, it is about developing a workforce that efficiently, effectively and profitably executes the strategy of the business.
This is not an easy process and because it isn’t easy many will shy away from it. Why work hard when easy will provide us with a workforce that is good enough. Yet, that is the problem; the workforce won’t be good enough. Doing what is easy will move through your business culture and take control. Gone will be the overachieving by your strongest performers, after all, why should they overperform if you value “good enough.” Your taking this easy path has developed a culture and behaviors that value high achievement no more than you do. It is the fact that this is a long-term effort, one that isn’t a “throw money at the problem” solution that creates a business unequaled in performance, productivity, and profitability.
To do this requires a change in behaviors and culture for you, your Leadership, Your Workforce and your HR. It changes the old workplace dynamic of “we treat everyone exactly the same because it is only fair to we reward and invest in high achievers who create high achieving outcomes in greater amounts than other employees because it is fair and the right thing to do.
There are several challenges to doing this. Managers will have to change their thinking about the workforce being something whose cost must be minimized to being the primary source of growth and value creation. It will change how metrics and strategy are both developed and used in the business and it will change how managers make decisions about their part of the business.
The goal of this new workforce strategy is very simple and straightforward. It is to drive effective business strategy execution. It’s very basic foundation is HR management systems that select, develop and reward the workforce. New systems that focus not on silly designations such as “Employer of Choice” but purely on ensuring the business has the right high performing employees. The success of the strategy is how well management uses these HR systems to execute the business’s strategy.
The overall uniqueness of the process is the diversity of strategies within the business. Each part of the business will use different strategies for success. A constant with all of them is that they will embrace a strong differentiation between High and Low performers. Those who do not follow this simple concept will experience their best employees leaving and their lower performers stay.
As I shared earlier, this is not a short process nor is it something that can be conducted solely by HR, Operational Leadership or the Executive Team. This is an ongoing long-term process that REQUIRES collaboration between each of these groups, extensive communication, and successful execution. The rewards for your business are incredibly high and something that none of your competitors can duplicate.