Implementing a total talent management approach can help companies thrive in the face of massive global challenges.
By Tania Fiero
The war for talent is heating up, and not many organizations are winning. According to ManpowerGroup’s 2021 survey on employment outlook, 69% of companies are facing talent shortages and hiring difficulties. That’s because in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented workforce exodus known as The Great Resignation is exacerbating an already severe labor shortage—even as accelerating enterprise digitalization initiatives make the need for top talent more urgent than ever. It’s enough to keep even the most optimistic HR leaders awake at night.
The obstacles shaping the current business landscape underscore the importance of talent management as a strategic imperative. Many HR departments still rely on siloed approaches to hiring and developing employees. Unlike these methods, total talent management is a holistic strategy that accounts for continually evolving workforce trends, current and future business needs and objectives, and nontraditional avenues for meeting them.
This approach is often associated with an expanded definition of the word talent. Even though historically HR professionals have used the term in reference to salaried employees, those abiding by the principles of total talent management use it as an umbrella that could encompass contingent workers like contract workers, gig workers, and freelancers; business intelligence solutions; and other types of personnel and resources. For companies feeling the far-reaching effects of the labor shortage, this change of perspective can mean the difference between growth and inertia—or even worse.
Expanding recruitment efforts to include contingent workers, for example, can help overcome skills gaps and widen the talent pool. In fact, there were 52 million contingent workers in the U.S. in 2020, a number that will likely increase as the economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic.
By implementing a total talent management strategy that embraces nontraditional hiring methods—such as onboarding contingent workers—organizations will not only have an easier time filling immediate skills gaps, but will also gain significant long-term competitive advantages. Total talent management inevitably leads to greater success in four areas.
1. Building a more agile organization. Total talent management requires HR leaders to evaluate talent in terms of overall value, regardless of specific worker classification (whether they’re a temporary worker, contractor, corporate partner, or something else). Not surprisingly a thoughtful, comprehensive assessment of all available personnel often enables HR teams to allocate resources in a way that more closely aligns with business objectives. By reducing waste and maximizing returns on talent investment, companies gain more adaptability and can capitalize on more opportunities. Given the far-reaching implications of the approach, C-suite executives must work alongside HR to ensure that total talent management is a strategic priority.
2. Finding and keeping specialized talent. Some roles take much longer to fill than others. This could be because the field of potential candidates is much smaller and the demand for workers is greater. It could also mean the margin of error when hiring is narrower—as candidates are particularly expensive, particularly vital to overall business success, or both—the hiring process associated with those roles is inherently longer, or any combination of these and other factors.
No matter what factors make finding and keeping specialized talent difficult, total talent management gives companies the flexibility to meet a wider range of talent needs and demands. Rather than trying to address every business challenge with a new, full-time hire, practitioners might consider contractors, upskilling programs for current employees, third-party vendors, or a range of other solutions that could deliver greater value to the organization now and in the future. Moreover, the flexibility of the total talent management approach often appeals to the growing number of workers who value freedom and flexibility in their own careers, which can pay dividends when it comes to recruitment and retention.
3. Gaining efficiencies through technology. Traditional workforce management approaches tend to be reactionary in nature. For instance, when a vacancy arises, HR posts a hiring notice on the company website. Or, when a project is delayed, employees are told to sit tight until work resumes. This type of passive approach to managing valuable resources results in wasted time, money, and opportunity. It also often leads to dissatisfaction among employees who are either underutilized or overworked due to pervasive inefficiencies.
Practitioners of total talent management leverage technology to be proactive, especially when finding talent. With platforms like Toptal, WorkMarket, and countless other easily accessible tools (as well as utilizing other talent sourcing models such as curating an internal talent pool), they’re able to identify the skills they need before that need becomes dire. Then they can easily engage with workers who could be a fit before competitors are even aware the talent is on the market.
4. Expanding brand footprints. Companies that use a total talent management strategy tend to cast a wider net when it comes to sourcing talent and building the relationships needed to maintain a robust talent pipeline. This starts by assessing the roles that need to be filled to determine which ones can be performed remotely. Once those are identified, companies take steps to ensure they have the infrastructure required to bring remote workers from other states or countries into the organization. Those steps could include additional technology investments or engaging a third-party employer of record partner to facilitate hiring, and they’re always accounted for when assessing the potential value of a prospective worker.
Moving away from a siloed approach to talent management in favor of a total talent management strategy will help HR professionals make a lasting impact on their companies. Even in the face of the growing skills gap and persistent labor shortages, HR leaders who guide executives toward this holistic approach will ultimately put their organizations in a better position to meet critical business objectives—both today and for years to come.
Tania Fiero is the chief human resources officer at Innovative Employee Solutions (IES)