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The Conference Room

What's the Silver Bullet Workforce Strategy?

Industry professionals raised an important question several times at this year’s Conference Board Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Conference in New York City: What are the best practices for workforce strategy?

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Like almost every business question, there’s never one simple answer.  In marketing, does television advertising drive all your brand awareness? When investing, do you only buy one stock or bond? No you wouldn’t, and it’s really no different when looking at your workforce strategy. It takes an integrated approach, one that’s strategic and aligns with the overall business goals of the organization. That same logic holds true to get the best results from your workforce – your company’s best assets.

Take a look at three important business trends that are having an effect on the way business leaders (not only HR professionals) should move forward with their workforce strategy:

  • The customer base is rapidly changing
  • Globalization is creating new and emerging markets
  • Gen Y is entering the workforce and have new preferences/attitudes about the workplace

Changing consumers

It’s likely that over the last several years either your consumers and/or the ways that they consume or interact with your brand have changed.  To address this, understand your “Key Employee Demographics Required for Growth” (KEDRG). This means looking first at “who works here?” versus “who we serve” and making sure the two demographics align.

Truly forward-looking companies will also take into consideration “who will we serve” to account for rapidly changing demographics in emerging and existing markets.  These new demographics need to be accounted for within your workforce.


A study by the McKinsey Global Institute finds that by 2025 annual consumption in emerging markets will rise to $30 trillion, up from $12 trillion in 2010.  New data also shows that developing countries beyond BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are growing rapidly.  Businesses will be forced to look at emerging markets and respond to growth outside of the U.S.  The best way to do that is by hiring and retaining a workforce that understands those markets and can help support your growth strategy.

Gen Y

The time is approaching when Baby Boomers will exit the workforce en masse and will be replaced by Gen Y.  To many business leaders, Gen Y is seen as the “problem child” cohort, but let’s back up and take a moment to reflect on the value they bring. Their DNA is inherently different than previous cohorts, meaning they are innately collaborative and team-oriented. They are more technologically savvy. They are more comfortable with diverse ethnic groups because they themselves are more diverse. The collaboration of cross-functional groups with diverse opinions will allow the best ideas to flourish, leading to continuous innovation for an organization.

The time is now for a new workforce strategy to make sense of these evolutions within the business landscape – a multifaceted strategy that creates and nurtures a workplace culture that can respond to the rapid global changes of business and ensure long-term survival and prosperity.

Shirley Engelmeier is the author of “Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage” and CEO of InclusionINC, a leading global consulting and learning organization specializing in linking inclusion and diversity to better business results through greater engagement, productivity, innovation and retention.

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