Get Ready For the Total Talent Workforce

When it comes to accommodating ongoing workloads or launching special initiatives, most companies typically only think of their full-time, regular employees. But these companies miss out on the advantages of total talent management models.

So what is total talent management? This recruitment approach draws from all sources of talent: traditional employees, freelancers, temporary workers, agencies, independent contractors, and gig workers. Some companies even employ robots as part of their talent solutions. A total talent management model extends the talent pipeline, allowing companies to better keep up with shifting business demands.

This is especially important because a growing portion of the workforce no longer seeks permanent employment. Instead, these workers rely on freelance and consulting opportunities. This model accommodates them while also saving employers money by converting fixed costs to variable.

Developing a total talent strategy

Historically, alternative workforce management has been handled by procurement. With the increasing popularity of this workforce, though, HR leaders need to be proactive and lead the strategy.

A recent report (requires subscription) by HR People + Strategy identified three stages of maturity to help HR professionals implement total talent management models. The first is aligning the systems and mindsets that companies use to integrate alternative workers with regular employees. Then, strategies to hire and onboard alternative talent must be implemented. Finally, once the talent is in place, the HR team must focus on the management and development of the newly minted workforce. This step includes providing feedback, professional development solutions, and more.

It’s up to HR to show companies that critical functions can be successfully completed by the alternative talent pool. Only then will businesses become more open to the highly skilled talent available for on-demand work arrangements.

Shifting to total talent management models is the inevitable future of workforce sourcing. A recent survey by Deloitte shows that 75% of HR departments already support sourcing alternative workforces. But it will take time for companies to get on board. Human resources professionals first need to influence current cultures toward more open-minded thinking.

Preparing for a total talent workforce

The following tips will help HR and talent leaders prepare for the shift toward total talent management:

Educate yourself and your hiring managers on the various options available for acquiring alternative workers. This will likely be an ongoing process because globalization and digitization have given us a vast talent pool to fill certain roles.

Start your education by looking for articles written by subject matter experts. You can also reach out to providers of these services for help, including temporary staffing services, payrolling services, employers of record, and independent contractor compliance services. Conferences on the subject, like SIA’s annual Contingent Workforce Summit, can also provide a lot of information and insights.

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Understand which roles and responsibilities will benefit from highly skilled, on-demand alternative workers, as well as the potential value these workers will provide to the organization’s leaders. This will help you gain buy-in from company executives, as you’ll be able to illustrate the value of this workforce.

On-demand can be beneficial for several reasons, including when expertise is needed on a special project for a limited time, if companies don’t have time to wait for onboarding and learning, or if there’s a risk that talent needs will drop or expand quickly. These roles can include consultants during an acquisition, engineering consultants to provide expertise on a bid, or product consultants to help prepare sales for a product launch.

Train hiring managers to know when it makes more sense to hire an alternative worker instead of a direct employee. There are a lot of things to consider, including cost, amount and type of work, and more. Roughly 36% of U.S. workers are involved in the gig economy, and if the trends continue, more than half of the workforce will be participating in gig work by 2027. That means that managers used to hiring traditional workers need a change of mindset.

Identify ways the organization can create a more welcoming, engaging environment for alternative workers. First and foremost, you should get to know them and their motivations. Help them feel like valued members of the team by including them in weekly meetings, for example. This helps them keep up with changes in the company and gives them a chance to voice opinions on important issues. Make sure to walk them around the office and introduce them to team members they will be working with to help them acclimate. And giving them little items like company coffee cups or other office swag makes workers feel welcome.

Create a value proposition for alternative workers in order to foster a more loyal relationship going forward. Training, feedback, and professional development opportunities open the possibility of ongoing employment arrangements and a developing alternative workforce. In addition to valuing their autonomy, independent contractors enjoy tackling projects they find stimulating. They also value working for name-brand companies with excellent reputations.

As companies and jobs evolve along with social and technological progress, so does the workforce. Total talent management models allow companies to leverage new forms of employment flexibility to fuel their businesses. Remember, there is talent everywhere just waiting to be tapped.

Tania Fiero is vice president of human resources at Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading nationwide employer of record that specializes in payrolling and contractor management services for today's contingent workforce. Founded in 1974 in San Diego, IES has grown into one of the city's largest women-owned businesses and been named one of its "Best Places to Work" for 10 years in a row.

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