A reflection and integration of workforce conceptualisations and measurements for competitive advantage

Hester Nienaber, Nisha Sewdass


Workforce management is important in organisational performance. However,
executives lament that their workforce management efforts remain ineffective. This comes as
no surprise, as workforce measurement poses a challenge for several reasons: the many different
conceptualisations of the workforce, which developed in parallel, and flawed workforce
analytics, hence inadequate workforce intelligence, are among the most significant. To have the
right people available requires timely and accurate information and intelligence to make
evidence-based decisions. In order to achieve this proper measurement is required, which forms
part of the information system that ensures the availability of the right people, at the right
place, at the right time. People measurement/metrics, is a neglected area of research, which is
receiving increased attention. Though little, if any, attention is devoted to the link between
people as dimension of competitive advantage and metrics to ensure the availability of the right
people, at the right place at the right time. Our conceptual paper attends to this omission by
reflecting on the different conceptualisations of ‘workforce’ by integrating the diverse and
fragmented literature, which has not been done before, and linking it with workforce
measurement. In so doing, we provide a more comprehensive understanding of ‘workforce’ and
workforce measurement, ensuring alignment with organisational strategy to secure a
competitive advantage and, thus, organisational performance. We also propose an integrated
framework to measure and manage the workforce. It transpired that of the many tools available,
predictive analytics emerged as the most effective means to measure and manage the workforce
successfully. Our paper benefits both academics and practitioners as theoretical ambiguities
and tensions are clarified while ensuring the availability of the requisite workforce.


competitive advantage, organisational performance, predictive analytics, strategy, workforce, workforce analytics, workforce intelligence, workforce metrics

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