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Staffing Issues & Insights for the Graphic Communications Industry.
Making Every Hire Count: Maximizing Your Human Capital Investment
Quality of Hire Begins With Sourcing: Pick Your Method to Suit Your Needs
Getting a grip on mission-critical "soft" skills: 5 simple steps
Forget Doing "More with Less" Older Workers Help Companies Accomplish "More with More"
For Expanding Your Value-Added Services Profitably, Hiring Is Rocket Science
Assessing job candidates beyond the technical skills
Employer Branding: The solution to attracting & keeping great staff
Successioning Your Business: Five Simple Steps that Aren't Exactly Easy
The 20-60-20 Rule: Simple Concept, Practical Applications, Profitable Results
Universal Employment Concerns: Creating Opportunity Out of Adversity
Hanging Flexible in Tough Times
Value-Driven Outsourcing
Downsizing: Don't Retreat - Motivate!
Navigating Today's Hiring Minefield: Who Is Available & Do You Really Want Them?
Today's Financial Storm Inspires Tomorrow's Long-Term Success
The case for HR: Why & how you should implement formal policies & procedures
Staffing for success in a soft market
The Challenge of Hiring Sales People
Workforce Optimization
Evolving Your Company into a Service-Oriented Business
Redefining Sales
Staffing for the Future of Print
Communicating With Employees From Start To Finish
Eight Steps to Prepare You for the Retirement Brain Drain
Job Hopping for the Right Reasons
Resumés are just the Tip of the Iceberg
How Some Hires Fail
Hire Like You Mean It
Concluding Your Hiring Workflow: Closing the Deal
A Hiring "To Do" List
Challenging Employee Excellence to Achieve Company Pre-eminence
Aim for the Top: Getting Value for Compensation Dollars
The Productivity Challenge
The Dynamics of Telephone Interviews
How People Enable "Enablers"
The People Side of Succession Planning
Tips for Effective Interviewing
Corporate Culture: What It Is, Who It's for, Why It Matters
What's In a Name?
Investment in Regulatory Managers is Money Well Returned
Flexibility in HR Management Reaps Rewards
People Drive Technology
Return on Experience
The Credible Resume
Leadership Delivers
Managing Employee Skills & Knowledge
Managing Employee Success
Profit by being a good employer
Achieve Employee Excellence with Effective Job Descriptions
Maximize your Human Capital Investment
Demystifying Job Descriptions
Benefits of Outsourcing
Surviving The Management Paradigm Shift
Invest in the Best


Workforce Optimization

Business success derives from the balance of assets, and every day PrintLink’s discussions with employers and employees deepen our appreciation of the importance of human resources in this asset mix. In fact, people are one of the two fundamental assets on which the printing and communications industry depends. The other is tools--tools of the trade, tools of workflow management, and tools of business management. But people are equally essential to make these tools all operate together effectively, push the resulting product out to the marketplace, and promote your company’s services.

Consequently, it is impossible to review the magnitude of your capital spending without also considering the strategic human-resources side of the equation. Balancing today’s robust tools of technology with the right people to manage and operate them is indispensable to achieving successful, customer-focused results. Recently the Conference Board of Canada echoed our view by noting: “The hiring game has changed. Workforce optimization is now essential to organizational success and HR's performance could mean the difference between success and failure.”

Moreover, the human-resource requirements of our large and complex industry keep changing rapidly. Right now the industry overall is being redefined by its present pattern of evolution from a craft into a technology and a service. Current factors hugely affecting our human-resources requirements are:

  • The escalating technological revolution
  • The pending mass retirement of Baby Boomers
  • Generational differences in how the workforce views the workplace
  • Financial pressures on—well--everything
Shift from Reactive to Strategic Focus

Despite or perhaps because of the above challenges, this is a time of tremendous opportunity for business owners, executives, and managers to strike a strategic balance between their human capital resources and investment in technology to deliver the best possible results. This process--called workforce optimization--is a major catalyst to productivity that yields major, measurable return. It requires hiring managers to shift their focus from reactive hiring to strategic workforce planning--meaning analyzing and forecasting the human resources and expertise their company needs to achieve its business objectives, identifying skills gaps, and formulating a plan to fill them.

In this process, management initiatives and information systems serve as valuable resources by enabling tabulation, analysis, and gap identification. As a further valuable resource, PrintLink works as a strategic partner to the industry and its supply chain across North America, assisting businesses in identifying and securing the right people with the right skills at the right time.

Retiring Baby Boomers

The imminent mass retirement of Baby Boomers is a phenomenon that will affect your strategic workforce plan significantly. In response, you will need to review your past successes alongside the skill sets of the people who championed them, as well as tabulate the skill sets your company’s technological advances will require going forward. You will also need to calculate when and how to enlist your soon-to-retire staff in training their successors.

A further consideration is that technological advances are delivering more output from fewer people, yielding increased productivity. The resulting attrition in the workforce will somewhat offset the drain in manpower caused by the escalating retirement of Baby Boomers.

Work-Life Balance

In past generations, people defined themselves by the way they earned their livelihoods. Many lived to work. But now, for the most part, people coming into the workplace are opting for a more holistic balance between career, community, and home life. Their outlook is diametrically opposed to that of the preceding generation of workers: today’s employees basically work to live.

So obviously, your plan for strategic workforce optimization requires hiring managers who demonstrate the flexibility to accommodate greater work-life balance for staff by implementing such relevant initiatives as flex time--or even a simple policy that allows employees to take work time for personal needs provided they put in extra hours another day to make up for it.

(Everyone, in fact, is confronted with personal matters that can only be accomplished during business hours, and such circumstances have always required a mutual give-and-take between employer and employee. But conversely, accommodating staff’s need for work-life balance does not mean pandering to their sense of entitlement. People entering and advancing in the workplace still need to achieve and contribute—then be rewarded only retroactively for their accomplishments. At no time does the work-life balance entitle employees flagrantly to use work hours for their personal commitments at the expense of their commitment to their employer. During the business day, staff’s primary attention must be to the employer’s endeavor, and a viable employee will not take advantage of any flexibility for work-life balance that an employer generously provides.)

Another implication of the growing demand for work-life balance is that people on your payroll should and will use their allotted holiday time to the fullest. Already standard vacation periods for most workers are longer in Europe than in North America, and most European corporations recognize the pragmatic value of giving employees opportunities to relax versus contributing actively to burning them out. Ultimately, as we progress further and further toward a global economy, will North American companies follow suit by extending the standard length of holidays for their staff?

It will become increasingly important in your workforce optimization plan to ensure that jobs and workplace procedures are well defined and documented, so that when people are absent on holidays or for personal reasons, someone else can fill the void. Productivity measurement and management will also be paramount. Again, many management-information tools already exist to help managers and human resources departments capture, measure, and analyze employee-activity data, then apply the results toward maximizing their human capital resources.

Financial Pressures on Employers & Staff

Today, as we all know, financial pressures are affecting everything and everyone. Faced with cost escalations that are not easily passed along to customers, most employers are left to juggle many diverse economic factors when making both their workforce-optimization and job-costing decisions.

For example, one financial pressure that is impacting workforce planning significantly is the soaring price of gas, since the desire to reduce the expense of commuting has become a growing motivation for job seekers. When screening new job candidates, we routinely ask them how far a commute they are willing to undertake for the right work opportunity. And in recent months, with gas prices climbing out of sight, their answers are becoming more and more conservative. Consequently, one of our clients in a relatively remote location recently expressed willingness to offset the commuting costs of new hires by paying them a distance premium.

Often in the past employers have offered car allowances as a frill—but are such perks now becoming a necessity? Other creative measures employers can implement to combat rising gas prices include company-organized ride-sharing programs, longer-work-day-shorter-work-week options, and telecommuting from home offices. At PrintLink we expect these and similar measures to become more commonplace.

Review your Workforce Plan Regularly

Strategic workforce planning is essentially a continual dialogue about the impact your human capital resources have on the priorities of your company. We therefore recommend that you not only develop a present and future workforce plan but also review it regularly as an integral part of your annual planning process.

While a workforce plan has always been necessary, today’s challenges make it arguably more essential now than ever before in determining the success of your business. But remember that you do not have to face the growing complexities of workforce optimization alone. For over fifteen years, PrintLink has stood as a uniquely experienced, specialized resource for the printing industry that can aid you in developing a strategic and profitable workforce-optimization plan and recruiting the personnel to fulfill it.

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