As organizations transition to a total talent approach, these five strategies can help improve the process.

By The Editors

Change is on the horizon for many organizations when it comes to managing their talent ecosystems. There are many factors driving this: low unemployment, a rise in contingent labor, and evolving worker preferences, among others. In fact, recent research from Ardent Partners found that 73 percent of organizations are utilizing new methods to address the workforce. One such approach is total talent management.

“Total talent is on the agenda for every employer hoping to stay competitive when it comes to getting the most out of their ‘greatest asset,'” says Bruce Morton, head of strategy for Allegis Global Solutions. “And some research suggests that over half of enterprise organizations will move from a segmented to holistic hiring approach within the next five years.”

Recent research from HRO Today confirms the transition has begun. From the flash report Practices & Challenges in Total Talent Management, sponsored by Broadleaf Results, 97 percent of study respondents who started implementing a total talent model indicated that their organization had not yet finished the process. When asked about their progress, 45 percent report they are in the midst of the transition.

The delay in full implementation may be due to some of the obstacles that occur when it comes to moving to this approach. But with challenges also come solutions. Here are some common challenges that organizations face and best practices to quell them:

Challenge: Worker types have traditionally been managed in silos. According to the HRO Today study, recruitment teams may not want to integrate both programs. Corinne Ripoche Van Hecke, president of Pontoon agrees: “Historically, HR and talent acquisition have managed permanent workers, interns, and internal transitions, while procurement has overseen the contingent workforce and legal has owned independent contractors, statement of work, and freelancers.”

Wilson adds that these departments often have varying objectives, including adding value, reducing cost, and mitigating risk, which adds to the complexity.

Solution: Conduct a talent inventory. In order to align all worker types, Wilson recommends eliminating internal silos that divide contingent workers, full-time employees, interns, independent contractors, freelancers, and part-time talent. “This is no easy or small task,” Wilson warns. “It will require working across departments and managing egos, territories, and the status quo. You will uncover a great deal of overlap, manual processes, waste, and inefficiencies. This should give you encouragement that you are on the right track and the change is necessary.”

Lori Hock, CEO of the Americas for Hudson Global, agrees. “Internally, people become narrowly focused on their individual or business group perspectives. There must be engagement from those that have a holistic view of the business in order to identify any gaps in understanding and overarching requirements.”

Having transparency across worker types will allow organizations to secure the best talent by role. “Understanding the mix of full-time and contingent workers across different departments will allow you to have transparent conversations about how to best find and deploy top talent,” explains Michael Yinger, global leader of growth and strategy for PeopleScout. “It’s also critical to remember that as the workforce evolves, your strategy must evolve with it to stay competitive in a tight talent market.”


Challenge: Different departments leverage different technology. ATS, VMS, CRM, HRIS, and ERP -there are plenty of tech solutions for organizations to choose from when managing their talent. Hock says, “Many companies either do not have a technology solution or they have too many disparate technologies. Too many technologies are not effective in achieving the business objective.”

Solution: Focus on process first. While it has yet to be determined whether there is a true single source of technology to manage total talent, HR and procurement teams are wise to understand what the new approach entails before looking at their tech stack. “You must fi rst create the process and then align the technology to it,” says Hock.

Challenge: Hiring managers may resist merging hiring practices. According to the HRO Today study, lack of centralized recruitment functions prevents seamless execution. “When organizations seek to transition to a total workforce solution (TWS), they typically have to merge two different talent sourcing models,” says Seb O’Connell, president of EMEA and APAC for Cielo. “The two operate independently with the hiring managers making the decisions around the type of resource they want to engage. Hiring managers prefer to operate in a model with a single point of contact -an SME who leverages market insight and experience to advise upon the right type of resource model for each role, the right source of talent and budget, aligned to the organization’s talent strategy.”

Solution: Centralize decision-making and show results. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and the more hiring managers understand the value of a centralized approach, the less resistance organizations will face. “A centralized decision-making process is also critical in ensuring that hiring managers receive guidance on determining the best way to fill a role -with either permanent or contingent workers,” says Yinger. “Establishing this up front will help create a smooth transition.”

Creating a positive experience will also encourage buy-in. O’Connell advises developing “a single, high-touch hiring manager experience where talent advisors are genuinely engaged with the business, accountable for all hires, and consulting on the best resource and route to market.”

Challenge: Change management is never easy. Implementing a new strategic approach to talent comes with many levels of change management. “There are several complexities that you encounter during any transition but as an organization of rapid growth, change fatigue was a key challenge,” says Lee Shaw, head of HR service delivery and change, for U.K.-based Shawbrook Bank Limited, who partners with Cielo for the company’s total workforce solution.

Solution: Communicate, communicate, communicate. “Communication is key and we collaborated closely with our TWS partner to ensure consistency and cultural alignment, for example tone of voice and the issue of joint communications,” says Shaw.

Communication across all stakeholders is critical. “Internal education and buy-in is imperative for any large-scale initiative,” says Hock. “This requires endorsement at the highest level appropriate. The organization needs to appreciate the importance and value of the program in order for proper adoption to take place.”

Working through these challenges will pay dividends in the long run. But patience and determination are key. “Changing how you look at engaging talent isn’t a matter of if but when. The workforce of tomorrow is rapidly changing, and being able to adjust and work at a pace that was once a luxury will no longer produce success,” says Wilson. “It will take time to make this shift, as it is a full-scale change management initiative. You will need executive level support, an enterprise-wide strategy, target operating models on how you operate both internally and externally, technology, ongoing optimization and refinement, and a single group to oversee these services for the organization.”

Tags: June 2019, Magazine Article, Talent Acquisition, Total Workforce Solutions

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