Workforce Visibility

Addressing 4 Common Workforce Challenges

When embarking on your workforce transformation journey there are myriad workforce challenges you may face. They can be strategy issues. Concerns over controlling costs. Or simply determining who is needed for the work and how to find them.

The Universal Workforce ModelTM addresses two types of workforce challenges shared by nearly every company today:

  • Strategic challenges in determining how to secure resources at the right time and cost through permanent and extended workforce options (which we addressed in a recent blog article)
  • Tactical challenges associated with skills shortages, demand for better use of data, evolving worker priorities and achieving higher standards for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

These workforce challenges influence the success of the organization and of the individuals who struggle with everyday work demands. What follows is a closer look at the tactical challenges in the workplace and how the Universal Workforce Model addresses them.

What is the Universal Workforce Model?

Tactical Workforce Challenges of Current Models

For managers, directors and line-level practitioners, the broader “big picture” challenges of talent acquisition and extended workforce engagement are less important than the prevailing tactical workforce challenges they face daily. These tactical problems include four significant issues that will continue to evolve, including:

  • Skills shortages and the need for agility in leverag­ing workers and resources
  • Evolving workforce technologies and the inability to implement new innovations easily
  • The advancement of data and analytics and the demand for better workforce intelligence
  • Changing worker expectations and corpo­rate goals, from DEI and sustainability to flexibility and the growing contingent workforce

Challenge 1: Skills Shortages and Workforce Agility

In a world where job vacancies routinely exceed the total number of active job seekers, it’s no surprise that companies have trouble finding people to get the work done – at least using traditional processes and methods. Moreover, the dynamics of a supply shortage are not likely to change. After all, many who left their current positions in the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic did so permanently, either retiring or taking on new careers or life choices.

Given the shortage of workers, companies are refocusing traditional talent processes to create a more agile work­force transformation strategy. They are doing so by rethinking the bar­riers that limit talent acquisition and extended workforce engagement today.

Those divisions begin with the predetermined direction of using a permanent employee versus a contractor. As men­tioned, the Universal Workforce Model draws from both sides of the employee/flexible worker universe to arrive at the ideal direction.

Likewise, the approach breaks the limitations of traditional job roles by opening work through a task-driven model. Overall, the work can be divided, allocated and resourced through the best means possible, a fluid approach that creates the agility to achieve optimal results in the face of continued workforce scarcity.

Challenge 2: Implementing Workforce Technologies

The world of workforce technology is fast-moving, crowded and complex. As an example, the latest report from research and advisory firm Talent Tech Labs offers a snapshot of the pace of change. The Talent Acquisition Ecosystem 11 report reveals 42 separate categories of talent technology serviced by hundreds of providers.

What chance do you have of staying on top of this rapidly moving landscape? How do you gain consensus on the right ecosystem for your organization, securing budget, navigating internal IT resources and prioritizing against competing proj­ects? How do you execute this before your planned ecosys­tem is obsolete?

In our experience, there is often a chasm between the promise of workforce technologies and the operational reality. The Universal Workforce Model addresses this challenge with a gateway approach that results in a simplified technology eco­system centered around an Intelligent Workforce Platform.


Challenge 3: Incorporating Data and Analytics

Organizations are awash in a sea of workforce data, which raises the stakes for improving workforce intelligence. Workforce stakeholders must make informed decisions about everything from pay rates to worker types, locations and per­formance measurements. The challenge for any manager or director is that data alone does not translate to good deci­sions. For accurate intelligence, context and analysis are vital – and that requires a holistic view of all data across the numerous disparate channels and systems where it resides.

The Universal Workforce Model has one point of integration that brings all data into a virtual environment, empowered by a machine learning function that adapts that information for analysis in a common framework. As a result, the technology platform delivers intelligence based on both internal and external data, draws analysis based on that information, and enables the informed decisions that business leaders seek.

Challenge 4: Changing Workforce Expectations and Policy Goals

In addition to a changing marketplace and technology landscape, workforce decision-makers must contend with evolving priorities every day. These priorities come from consumers, customers and workers themselves, changing expectations based on business and the markets, as well as new regulatory issues and a focus on new workforce demands coming out of the pandemic, ranging from privacy and vacci­nations to health and safety, to name a few.

Most notable are priorities around boosting DEI; supporting sustainability; improving workforce flexibility; and leveraging a growing contingent workforce. Companies are embracing new levels of commitment to these goals, and HR, procurement and business leaders must make substantial efforts to meet them.

These goals are best supported by a workforce infrastruc­ture that: 1) makes workforce decisions that are flexible and transparent, and 2) captures any information that tracks and highlights progress or challenges in meeting those goals. The Universal Workforce Model provides a decision-making ecosystem that addresses both needs.

For example, the Workforce Business Partner can track diversity in hires, retention or success of diverse candidates, or the performance of both contingent workers and employ­ees through one source. Likewise, a task-based, barrier-free approach lets organizations better engage workers regardless of location or work arrangement (permanent employee or flexible worker).


Strategic Versus Tactical Is No Longer an Either/Or Question

The application of an approach to both strategic and tactical issues is often a stumbling block to legacy workforce transformation strategy efforts. In the past, the shortcomings of focusing on near-term issues were not felt for a meaningful amount of time. In other words, a tactical approach that did not change easily still delivered value for one, two or even up to three years. Today, change often comes too quickly to rely on a near-term solution.

Likewise, the business does not have the patience to wait for a long-term vision to solve pressing problems. That means a solution must deliver wins today. The Universal Workforce Model provides the flexibility to address both, offering near-term solutions and long-term value in a practical approach for everyone involved. It’s a journey that will be required for any successful organization to navigate the rapidly evolving future of work and the workforce.

How Can the Universal Workforce Model Help You Solve Tactical Workforce Challenges?

We hope this article outlines how the Universal Workforce Model can help you navigate tactical workforce challenges associated with skills shortages, demand for better use of data, evolving worker priorities and achieving higher standards for DEI. Download the Universal Workforce Model book to learn more about workforce transformation strategies and ways to rethink how work gets done. 

Explore the Universal Workforce Model

**Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from “The Universal Workforce Model: An Outcome First Guide to Getting Work Done.”  

As co-authors of “The Universal Workforce Model: An Outcome First Guide to Getting Work Done,” Simon Bradberry and Bruce Morton are thought leaders in the workforce industry. Simon Bradberry, Vice President, EMEA Region, Allegis Global Solutions, is a workforce transformation professional with more than 25 years of experience in workforce strategy and execution. Bruce Morton, Global Head of Strategy, Allegis Global Solutions, has more than 40 years of experience in the human capital industry and is well known as a global workforce design and talent acquisition expert.