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The Quick Fix: Workforce optimisation 

The old adage ‘people are the greatest asset’ rings particularly true in the media industry, says David Elms, UK Head of Media
The Quick Fix: Workforce optimisation

Value Adding PriorityI deliberated between the merits of workforce optimisation and pensions auto-enrolment for some time, realising that the old adage ‘people are the greatest asset’ rings particularly true in the media industry. I eventually plumped for workforce optimisation having seen time and again how innovative HR strategies can transform frontline performance.  


In this age of austerity some may be tempted to view staff as a cost to the system - ‘cost walks on two legs’ - a somewhat dated and counter-productive approach, in my opinion. We offer a more strategic and longer-term view - ‘value walks on two legs’. I believe that successful organisations are undoubtably those who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the people agenda in good times and bad.


The media industry is a people business and people create value for customers. During these times of uncertainty, organisations must be clear on their employee proposition yet flexible enough to manage external and economic shifts. Our clients often ask for examples of best practice but there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and due attention must be paid to four key areas: structure, process, culture and reward.


Many organisations are at risk of driving a wedge between the front and back office; focussing too intently on external issues driven by consumers, channels and content. While this is understandable, the back office is changing just as quickly and must be prioritised in equal measure.


The digital age is reshaping the value chain and issues associated to talent, skills and resourcing will face greater scrutiny. Notably, I expect that we will see greater convergence and aggressive demand for high skilled staff such as digital publishers and data analysts. The industry may have to accept that the cultural kudos associated with iconic media brands is fading and demand for technical specialists is both competitive and expensive.


Workforce optimisation can reap significant productivity gains by helping to define a unique strategic focus for both the organisation and employee. Take salary sacrifice for example - not only does the scheme bolster tax efficiency, it also adds significant weight to attraction and retention strategies. In spite of this, I have seen firsthand how organisations often struggle to move workforce issues from the ‘too hard’ pile to the executive agenda.


Crucially, workforce optimisation is a firm-wide debate and can never be realised by the HR function alone. In my view, an independent lens is mandatory, particularly to digest workforce demographics and identify areas where talent has a disproportionate impact on the bottom line. Moreover, harnessing greater value from the workforce can require (sometimes radical) changes to the way stakeholders work together, thus explaining why some in-house attempts lose momentum in favour of front-office priorities.


We are working with clients to implement cohesive strategies that encompass HR, Finance, IT and Remuneration. Together our aim is to create a seemingly paradoxical synergy; to enhance staff productivity while simultaneously increasing work attractiveness and professional motivation.



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What's your view?


Mark Williamson

Mark Williamson

Partner, People and Change

KPMG in the UK


020 7311 8693

Email Mark


David Knight

David Knight

Partner, Rewards & Incentives

KPMG in the UK


020 7694 4061

Email David