Summary of Workforce of One

Revolutionizing Talent Management Through Customization

Harvard Business Review Press, more...

Buy the book

Workforce of One book summary
Top-down personnel management no longer makes sense. Instead, treat each employee as a “workforce of one.”


7 Overall

8 Applicability

7 Innovation

7 Style


If your company follows cookie-cutter HR policies, then you’re not getting the most from your employees. Talent management experts Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith make a convincing case for customizing your company’s people policies. Because your employees have different jobs, work styles, needs and aspirations, rigid, top-down management makes little sense – even if, yes, you lose some control. Cantrell and Smith offer four “workforce of one approaches,” explain how to implement each one and provide case studies of companies that have pioneered these strategies. Although at times repetitive, the book’s analyses, quizzes and checklists serve as helpful tools in determining which approach – or combination of approaches – is right for your company. getAbstract recommends the book’s main message to corporate leaders and human resources professionals: Companies that use customized personnel practices will have a more engaged, productive, satisfied workforce, because one size no longer fits all.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why customized talent management works better than standardized HR policies
  • How to use the four “workplace of one approaches.”


“Four Paths to a Workforce of One”
Corporate human resources (HR) departments typically apply standardized practices to managing employees. But this is starting to change. Just as companies have found that catering to consumers’ individualism is crucial for success – “treating customers...
Get the key points from this book in less than 10 minutes. Learn more about our products or log in

About the Authors

Susan M. Cantrell is a Research Fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance. David Smith is managing director of the Accenture Talent & Organization Performance practice.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same authors

Contained in Knowledge Pack:

  • Knowledge Pack
    Talent Management
    To keep the best employees, you have to be the best manager: how to recruit, hire, retrain and nurture the cream of the crop.

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category