get with the program with a holistic approach to talent.

February 8, 2017 James Stovall

The total talent future is already here

One in three U.S. workers is a freelancer. Seven of 10 executives and HR leaders recognize that integrating and leveraging the part-time and contingent workforce is important to their business, and only 11% have complete management processes for the contingent part of the workforce. Meanwhile, 52% of leaders agree that a competitive workforce of the future will have a higher mix of contingent workers, and 85% say integrated talent management is an important approach for enhancing the resources available to their business.

These trends point to a new reality: the transformation of the workforce isn’t on its way; it has arrived, and companies aren’t ready. Employers are investing in process improvements, better technology and social and mobile recruiting, but many have yet to optimize the composition of their workforce itself. How do you shift from an employee-centric view of the talent universe to a view of workers as a mix of employees, contingent workforce, freelancers and Statement of Work (SoW) workers? That is the “total talent” approach, and for most large, dynamic organizations it is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity. 

It’s a complex picture, but getting started boils down to identifying the business issues and then deciding what you can do about it. 

the big issues

Companies are still managing yesterday’s workforce. Companies are shifting their workforce to include a larger portion of non-employees, but they manage their full-time and contingent talent separately, with little communication or strategy across both segments. As a result, they miss out on talent and make poor decisions — a classic case of “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.” When 30% of your workforce are non-employees, can you afford to ignore that segment?

Most large employers don’t have plans in place to change how they organize work. Workforce interests are changing. Gen Y workers have very different thoughts on work and their relationship with their employer. Many prefer a part-time or flexible schedule, and changes like the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. remove the independent health insurance barrier that may have prevented this in the past. Adjusting to a world that breaks the traditional silos and expectations of “employee” and “non-employee” workers requires focus and planning. Many companies haven’t thought beyond the usual view of, “this is the way we’ve always done it.” 

Talent leaders are overwhelmed. Not only are the methods of talent innovation changing but business itself is changing. More than half of the Fortune 500 have been bought out or had a significant downturn since 2000. As recently as 2010, Blackberry had a 45% market share of mobile devices compared to Android’s 7%. And Uber, which was just started in 2009, now dominates taxi services. Innovation and digital business is shifting the business landscape, and often yesterday’s workforce isn’t nimble enough to adjust to changing needs. This leaves talent leaders in a very difficult position. Their business and workforce are changing more quickly than ever, the number of talent options and innovations is at an all-time high, yet the budgets and time allowed to move the needle grow shorter.

what can we do?
Refocus on talent. The efficiency and cost-cutting that has been achieved by traditional Managed Services Providers (MSPs) in managing the talent supply is no longer enough. The focus needs to shift to ensuring quality best-match talent. Onboarding and engagement will be essential to talent quality. Consider the productivity implications that would arise if up to one-third of your workforce was not consistently or effectively managed. 

Rethink talent strategy. Not many companies are intentional about their mix of employees, contingent workers, contractors and SoW workers. Moving forward, the thinking of hiring manager and talent leader must shift from “How can I have a body here quickly and with the least hassle?” to “What is the best way to accomplish this work?” A contingent or non-traditional method should be considered.

Bring innovation. Identify who is responsible for driving talent innovation and continuous improvement. Some companies rely solely on their IT and HRIS function, but given the pace of change, most of these corporate functions cannot keep up. Look for external partners to bring innovation and advice. 

The world of work has changed, and it will continue to evolve rapidly. Having the right talent to innovate and adapt to change will be paramount. Quality talent represents one of the most powerful and sustainable competitive advantages available to companies in the face of the changing workforce. Acting now to stay ahead of that changing workforce can mean the difference between leading in your market or playing catch-up in the future. Don’t wait until your model no longer works. The time for the total talent conversation is now. 

about the author

James Stovall

James Stovall is the senior vice president of Global Strategic Accounts at Randstad. Previously he served as senior vice president of Solution Design for Randstad Sourceright, managing the development of solutions that help companies around the world address their most pressing talent challenges. An expert in building integrated talent management solutions, Stovall helps organizations optimize and execute their talent acquisition strategies across all worker types, from full-time employees to the contingent workforce. Earlier in his career, Stovall was a Deloitte Human Capital consultant for almost a decade and later spent almost three years with Home Depot helping transform its recruiting strategy, processes and technology. He has a degree in computer science from Georgia Tech, where he now sits on the Alumni Board of Trustees.

More Content by James Stovall
Previous Article
5 differences between employer and corporate brand.
5 differences between employer and corporate brand.

Next Article
what to know when developing an RFP for a talent solution.
what to know when developing an RFP for a talent solution.

Create bidding clarity and efficiency by following these tips for contracting for an RPO or MSP solution