Redesigning Jobs to Maximize Human Capital

Topic(s): talent management
Publication: Harvard Business Review (2013)
Article: Redesigning Knowledge Work
Authors: M. Dewhurst, B. Hancock, D. Ellsworth
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

Skilled laborers like engineers, scientists and salespeople are harder to find these days, and according to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, a talent shortage in these areas is going to get worse in the coming years. Therefore, organizations are redesigning high-value knowledge job roles and contracting external firms to take care of routine operations so employees can focus their attention and efforts on work only they can perform. This not only helps to address talent shortages but according to the authors (Dewhurst, Hancock, & Ellsworth, 2013) it also lowers costs and increases job satisfaction.


So how do you go about maximizing your human capital and making the most of your organization’s talent? The authors recommend a couple of easy steps any HR practitioner can follow.

Step One: Perform a gap analysis. Identify talent with ‘must have skills’ your organization presently has and consider how your workforce and your organization’s needs will change over the next five years.

Step Two: Refine job descriptions where talent is scarce to best leverage your resources. Identify the essential functions your employees are hired to perform, and cut out responsibilities that can be delegated elsewhere.

Step Three: Develop ways to fill the skills gaps. Outsource work to contractors that do not require your employees’ specialized expertise or in-person interaction.

Step Four: Rewire the process for knowledge and talent management. Change your organizational culture to support these operational changes and learn how to integrate these contractors into your organization. Identify top performing remote hires and further develop and utilize their skills. Find ways to capture keen insights these hires have and facilitate knowledge transfer within your organization to employees who could benefit from this information.


Dewhurst, M., Hancock, B., & Ellsworth, D. (2013). Redesigning Knowledge Work. Harvard Business Review, 91(1), 58-64.