To create a competitive advantage, the more successful employers are turning to work force segmentation as a solution for talent management, but there is still much room for growth. While work force segmentation is becoming more popular, few employers practice this, and there is a limited understanding of how the many jobs in an organization contribute to overall business success in their own ways. Most employers instead practice one overall talent management approach, but this is not the most effective way to produce results, says Ravin Jesuthasan, global leader of talent management at Towers Watson, a consulting firm in New York City.

Much of work force segmentation is connected to driving growth and innovation; thus, it centers on identifying what attracts the right talent, Jesuthasan says. An employer doesn’t necessarily need to be attractive to every talent pool out there. Rather, an employer should focus on attracting the talent pools that drive organizational growth and innovation.

For instance, a pharmaceutical company must understand how to attract research and development scientists if it is to grow. Other job functions, such as administrative positions, do not play nearly as large roles in promoting growth and innovation for that particular company.

“Employers use work force segmentation to target their investments in the work force in a way that recognizes the unique segments in terms of the types of people who work for them and the roles they play,” Jesuthasan says.

Some organizations have been apprehensive about practicing work force segmentation because they feel that this places a value judgment on employees; however, that is not the case, Jesuthasan says. Work force segmentation may recognize that all employees play different roles with some being more pivotal than others, but it doesn’t mean the other segments are insignificant. In fact, work force segmentation looks at what engages all talent pools on the different levels.  

“When we talk about segmentation, we don’t use the words ‘important’ or ‘critical,’” Jesuthasan says. “We use the word ‘pivotal.’ The business model pivots on a particular job; that’s not to say anyone else is less important, but there are a few jobs that are more pivotal to the success of the organization than others.”

Work force segmentation also relates to analyzing employee programs. Today’s cost pressures are impacting how many organizations think of their various employee perks, such as benefits, pay programs and wellness, Jesuthasan says. By segmenting the work force, an employer can develop better insight into how different employee groups use benefits based on their lifestyles.

This can apply to the various talent pools, and it can also apply to employees at different locations, Jesuthasan says. Just as certain talent pools may value different benefits, what motivates an employee from the East Coast may be different from what motivates an employee from the South.

“Work force segmentation is about making much more judicious choices in terms of benefits and targeting them in a way that people will use them,” Jesuthasan says. “You don’t want to just have one great program that people don’t fully take advantage of because of their lifestyles and life choices.”