Segmentation is a fundamental concept in business. Just as a marketer segments their products and clients, so the same concept should be applied to the workforce. One size doesn’t fit all!

Most organisations segment their workforce on either a job level or hierarchical organisational basis, or on a job cluster/family basis. However these segmentation approaches are potentially flawed or limited for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, two jobs/roles may be on the same level in an organisation, or within the same job family, but have widely different impacts on business outcomes. Some roles may be “Make” roles and some may be “Buy” roles. As such, they will have very different Employment Value Propositions (EVPs), as well as levels of investment and turnover cost implications.

Secondly, with most organisations continuing to invest in talent/roles by hierarchical level, and not by value creation and strategic impact, the danger is that over time, this results in an underinvestment in some roles and an overinvestment in other roles.

Segmentation and role differentiation lie at the heart of developing a workforce strategy – making a choice about the relative importance of roles to the business.

AWS Skills-Based Workforce Segmentation Model

Our AWS Skills-Based Workforce Segmentation Model, adapted from the work of Lepak and Snell (1999), provides a basis for analysing and segmenting roles according to two dimensions of skills: (a) Skill value and their impact; and (b) Skills uniqueness.

Based on this model, roles may lie in one of four skills quadrants:

  1. Criticals – high value and uniqueness;
  2. Professionals, Skilled and Semi-Skilled – high value and lower uniqueness;
  3. Doers – lower value and uniqueness; and
  4. Specialists – lower value and higher uniqueness.

Depending upon the skills quadrant in which a role falls, differentiated HR policies, including Employment Value Propositions (EVPs), levels of investment in talent, and the reporting of human capital data will apply.

Also the cost of turnover multiple varies according to which quadrant the role falls in, thus enabling a “fine grained” calculation of the cost of turnover by quadrant and assessment of workforce risk.

Access the resources below to learn more.


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WHITEPAPER: Critical Role Identification

A Best Practice Approach to Addressing the Blind Spots in Talent Management and Succession Planning

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The AWS Skills Segmentation Questionnaire (SSQ)

We have developed a 52 item questionnaire (SSQ) that enables roles to be assessed (and then plotted) according to the above two dimensions of skills. The skills value framework (i.e., skills value axis) that forms a key component of the SSQ comprises the following:

  1. Revenue
  2. Stakeholder Relations
  3. Quality
  4. Costs
  5. Innovation
  6. Organisational Capability
  7. Reputation/Risk Management
  8. Financial
  9. Systems & Processes

Roles are assessed according to their decision making responsibility in the above 9 areas and their impact (i.e., local versus wide spread). There is provision to apply weightings on the above skills values, according to the business strategy. By further identifying and highlighting those roles that create value, and that are more important to the delivery of the business strategy and outcomes, this underpins the alignment of workforce and business strategies.

This SSQ tool forms the foundation of our SWP approach.