The term Total Talent Management (TTM) risks becoming yet another three-letter business acronym that receives a degree of curiosity before disappearing into obscurity given the immediate pressures on organizations to respond to the global pandemic that descended on our world this year. In this article we spend a moment to explain why there’s never been a better time to time it seriously. 

COVID-19 has created a demand for long-term flexibility 

Contracted workers used to be there to fill the gaps in talent needs. In many countries like the UK, contingent workers were more commonly described as temps. But that was before freelancing and contracting went mainstream. 

The world of business turned a corner this year. While the combined pressures of globalization and e-commerce have shifted the pace of change in markets and business models over the last 20-years, the pandemic has up-geared market change another gear.  

Industry has got to the point now where no employer can compete with an inflexible workforce. With demands for skills shifting on a bed of sand, employers are increasingly depended on contracted Flexi-worker to fill short and mid-term talent needs. In the majority of employers, a significant proportion of work is permanently outsourced to Flexi-workers these days. 

It means that your workforce blend is broader than just FTEs. It has to be if your organization is to survive. And it’s not just about catering for ‘gaps’ in your short-term talent. Flexible working is here to stay. So, maximizing your blend of full-time, contracted and technology solutions to sourcing is a sensible thing to do.


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What is TTM? 

Total Talent Management (TTM) is a human capital management strategy to satisfy enterprise workforce demands by embracing both full-time employees and gig working in its various forms. The main contractual constructs found in TTM strategies include:

·      Full-time Employment (FTE) Contracts 

·      Contractor Procurement – Normally procured through indirect procurement via staffing agencies 

·      Project Outsourcing Purchase Orders – Sometimes called ‘Outsourcing’

·      Statement-of-Work (SOW) Contracts – The provisioning of work against agreed milestones stipulated in a contract

·      Micro-Task (or Micro Job) Contracts – The fulfillment of tasks by gig workers, normally via an online task portal 

In Randstad Sourceright’s 2018 Talent Trends research, of the more than 400 organizations that have adopted a total talent model, 96% say they are extremely or very satisfied with the results.


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The gut issue with TTM is that senior executives, HR and Procurement need to be aligned and work as one to make the best hiring and resourcing decisions. In most organizations, HR has always taken care of full-time roles and handed the contracting of Flexi-workers over to procurement. This has led to an awkward split in ownership and decision making. Consequently, flexible workers have regularly missed out on appropriate benefits, often treated as ‘lesser’ workforce contributors. This is where TTM steps in. It embraces ALL the people that go to make up the workforce; factoring in the unique relationship demands of an indirect workforce, while respecting those individuals that go to make up this important long-term resource pool. 

Bluntly, a TTM strategy is the pivotal philosophical change needed to implement an on-demand workforce model that helps organizations leverage the potential of the gig economy by creating a harmonious and integral management process for sourcing best-fit talent in the best way.

Five reasons to implement TTM now 

Here are five reasons why TTM is being revisited today.


1. Short-term pandemic talent shortages

Rightsizing the workforce to the new economic reality means that employers are working hard to reset their talent blend. While layoffs of permanent roles have been inevitable in some sectors, others are doing surprisingly well, and employers have been able to maintain their staffing levels. But even when headcount remains static, employers are less reluctant now, given the current outlook, to take on more full-time employees.  

This has resulted in a double-whammy of demand for flexible workers; partly because employers are keen to tap into the quality talent that has been released over the past few months before it gets employed by top brands, but also because of the recognized need to increase the ability of the workforce to flex in-line with market changes and the economic outlook.


2. Remote working

Few organizations took home working seriously until the pandemic hit. They were concerned about risks to data security, the practicalities of supporting remote working with IT and telecoms, trusting their people to work when they were at home, and about the impacts on productivity. Since March 2020, all of these concerns have been laid to rest as employers have found (to the surprise of many leaders) that their workforce can operate at home just as ably as when they are in the office. 

This has led to many organizations adopting a blended remote working model to cater for staff concerns over their safety in light of COVID-19. But when an enterprise has its talent operating remotely, there’s no longer a need for workers to live in the locality of their commute. This means that contingent workers operating from different countries are now, thanks to modern collaborative telecommunications technologies, able to work remotely and be credible contributors to projects and teams.


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Some argue that the US government’s decision to suspend the H-1B visa (a common mechanism used by US firms to hire overseas workers they want to work in the US) is doing nothing more than perpetuate a remote working culture, as organizations learn to live with operating dispersed delivery teams.

Remote working has made it more possible and acceptable to contract workers living overseas. In such cases, the entire hiring process takes place online; something employers are rapidly getting accustomed to.


3. Opportunities to experiment with the gig economy 

We’ve never had such a large pool of people prepared to work as contractors or gig workers; taking on one or more employments to make up a living wage. This is partly because there are fewer full-time roles being made available, but it’s also been a lifestyle choice for many who recognize that no job is safe these days and having multiple employments (or ‘customers’) offers a degree of increased job security. 

Organizations are naturally curious of the benefits this community of workers can offer their business and are keen to ‘experiment’ with gig working. One of the ways to do this is for employers to contract work out one project or task at a time. New contract structures and technology platforms for flexible working are creating ways for employers to tap into these new resources at very low risk, but it demands a re-think of how jobs and resourcing requirements are ‘triaged’ by HR and procurement in order to embrace these possibilities. 


4. The role of robots and AI 

While the general assumption of employers is that you need a human to get a job done, that’s becoming less and less true with the advent of robots and artificial intelligence. Total Talent Management is about resourcing, not just talent. A good program should be considering possibilities for automation and machine-to-machine processing in addition to ‘human-in-the-loop’ options. 

According to research (2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends) conducted by Deloitte, the vast majority of organizations expect to increase or significantly increase their use of AI, cognitive technologies, robotic process automation, and robotics over the next three years. 


5. The unavoidable conclusion that organizations need long-term workforce agility

If ever bosses needed convincing that flexible working was a long-term strategy, the pandemic put paid to any doubters. Every business in the world is now shaping up its workforce strategy to embrace flexible working and this is causing talent and procurement leaders to consider what strategy to recommend. For any organization with a large full-time workforce, a root and branch review of how talent decision making operates is likely to be needed to reset ‘old ways’ norms of behavior.


What we think 

There are huge cost savings at risk by not implementing a total talent strategy, namely because, contingent work, at its current pace, will eventually outpace full time work. At the very least, an implementation of the Total Talent management strategy should start at your company as the idea of how ‘blended talent sourcing and management’ will bring value to your organization.  

At the front end, using a holistic approach to talent sourcing and management will help bring HR and procurement closer together to begin having discussions about taking a holistic and complete view of talent, and removing the piece-by-piece aspects of your talent strategy that might exist today. When both hands see what the entire body is doing, then can the implementation of this strategy start. 

You need your contingent workforce house in order – if you’re not in MSP now, or there is on plan to integrate all categories of your contingent work into one program, this hurdle is going to be harder to jump later on. A strategy that requires visibility into all talent should start with two whole pieces that can fit together later. If your organization cannot clearly point to all of your contingent workers in one place, this is going to be challenging. 

Simply, you need a joined-up plan, with an inclusive approach applied to all stakeholders. Change management is not easy but comes with huge rewards.