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Centralizing Talent Acquisition

Learn how and why today’s organisations are moving toward a total talent approach.

By Michael Switow

From direct sourcing, alumni referrals, RPO, and redeployment to full-time workers, freelancers, SOWs, interns, and robots, the universe of talent acquisition has never been more complicated. Contemporary HR and talent acquisition (TA) professionals now manage more than a dozen potential talent streams, with one eye on recruiting and retaining the right workforce and another on keeping costs under control.

“Decision-making for talent today is decentralised, and I think we can see that when we are really looking at the type of talent that we’re trying to bring in,” says AgileOne‘s president Peter Carvalho. “Suppliers right now seem to be pushing the overall total talent strategy.”

Carvalho should know. His company works with more than 2,000 suppliers, whilst serving as a single point of contact for a broad range of clients across 17 industries.

A 28-year veteran of the staffing industry, Carvalho advises companies to adopt a total talent management (TTM) strategy.

“[TTM is] the science of using strategic human resource planning to improve business value and to make it possible for organisations to meet their goals,” explains Carvalho, citing a definition on Wikipedia. Yet less than 20 per cent of Asian companies implement a TTM strategy, particularly when contingent workers are taken into account.

For some, the challenge is creating an integrated strategy to manage so many different talent categories. For others, it’s being able to effectively tap streams that are underutilised. And this is no surprise. Carvalho’s says that today, companies can be dealing with up to 14 unique talent acquisition streams, including redeployment, niche recruiters, on-call, and social media sourcing.

UBS Director of Human Resources Darren Addis says that his company could tick all the talent channel boxes, except one. Yet he is far from satisfied, because these streams have yet to be integrated.

“It’s still an evolution,” he says. “We’re putting in an advisory function to assist hiring managers to define the right channel. Does it go to the permanent recruiters? Does it go to the MSP? Do we hand it over to procurement?”

He is working towards an approach in which TA leaders and hiring managers can identify a need and find the most efficient and practical way to fill it. Currently, the talent acquisition process is rigid and often very structured in approach, with leaders struggling to find a specific number of full-time workers for a specific location, when in fact, the same functions might be better met by offshore or contingent workers.

For Shanoo Singh, the Asia-Pacific director of recruitment and staffing at MSD, the challenge is overcoming internal resistance to bringing more freelancers into the workforce.

“The organisation is not ready to work so freely with freelancers,” she explains. “Maybe it’s because of accountability or maybe it’s because of the trust factor. However, with the increasing population of freelancers, I think it’s time that we start working with them, adapting to them, and seeing what they bring. There could be some new thinking.”

Singh is encouraging MSD to test the waters in terms of working with freelancers, and so far the results have been good, though the percentage of freelancers in the company is still low.

One strategy AgileOne’s Carvalho suggests is for MSD to build its own private freelancer community. “A lot of the platforms out today, and the service providers associated with those, will allow for that,” he says. “So it’s a good way to dip your toe in the water, before you really start to participate openly in more of a public community.”

Moving applicants from one talent pool to another can be an obstacle.

“We’re trying to identify and take our ‘silver medalists’ from the permanent recruiting process and then introduce them to a contract role via our MSP,” explains UBS’ Addis. When applicants succeed in contract jobs, UBS might have an opportunity to hire them later on a permanent basis. “We’re thinking about all these things; it’s just that we’re not evolved enough yet to join it all up into a holistic view.”

Technology may be able to help bridge these gaps, Carvalho says, although no single platform currently exists to link every facet of talent acquisition.

“I know, nowadays, we always emphasise AI and technology,” says Leanne Chan of First Advantage, an organisation that provides background screening services. “[But] when we’re talking about talent and human resources, it’s all about human beings.”

Chan argues that conversation, dialogue, and coaching can’t be replaced. Communication between team members also plays a key role in identifying internal talent and building succession plans.

Whilst the advantages of total talent may be apparent to HR professionals, it’s likely that the impact on a company’s bottom line will be what sells TTM to the C-suite.

Consider the following:

  • Vendor management systems and worker classification can each cut talent acquisition costs by up to five per cent.
  • Alumni programmes and first generation MSPs save up to 12 per cent.
  • Referred talent programmes average between 10 and 15 per cent savings.
  • RPO can reduce acquisition costs by 20 per cent.

“I don’t know that I would lead with cost savings, but it’s a business imperative that we all have to be fiscally responsible,” says Carvalho.

This piece covers the interactive workshop The Financial Impact of Total Talent Management, presented by Peter Carvalho, president of AgileOne, at the HRO Today Forum APAC in Hong Kong.

Tags: APAC, Global Autumn 2017 Supplement, Magazine Article, Talent Acquisition, Total Workforce Solutions

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