Total Talent Management: A New Vision for the Future Workplace

Presenting an organizational strategy that integrates previously siloed workforce pillars to enable the delivery of ‘true’ total talent management with market-leading technology at the backbone. 

In the last 20 years, the employment landscape has changed significantly. Once dominated by permanent full-time employment seekers, Y2K saw the boom of contingent workers - contractors, freelancers, and temporary workers. Fast forward to 2020, and the skilled talent pool market is hugely diverse, laced with the complexity of globalized legislative and regulatory variances. 

With this huge ever-evolving landscape comes new needs. Talent management has for too long been dominated by pigeon-holed solutions for the majority, instead of inclusivity for all to truly optimize how organizations can operate as one. This need is becoming even more desperate as contingent worker demands increase with the enterprise’s need for agility.

Studies indicate that focusing on talent management reaps immediate efficiencies along with financial benefits for the organization. This line of thinking has paved the way for a new type of total talent management. One that looks at the organization holistically, end-to-end, and as an organism, orchestrating talent types globally and constantly in line with needs throughout the employee lifecycle, supported by leading-edge technologies. 

The Case for Total Talent Management 

Manpower Holistic View Workforce

Total talent management (TTM) is a buzzword, an idea, and a concept that has predominantly surfed talent acquisition and talent technology solution waves for the last 10 years. 

Until now, TTM has looked to combine the view of the employed workforce with the contingent workforce (contractors, temps, and freelancers), breaking down the barriers of workforce management between human resources and procurement teams and look at the talent in one single view, supported by technology and managed services. In doing this, organizations have been able to increase visibility, mitigate risks and optimize processes. 

However, the current solutions available in the market today do not provide one consolidated view of talent, due to the remaining silos between talent types. Additionally, they do not provide the critical organizational structure and strategy for optimizing talent, let alone sustain it long term.

Infosys StatsFurthermore, the need to expand the ‘contingent labor’ definition to the ‘extended workforce’, inclusive of professional services, outsourcers, and more, is crucial to obtain a true workforce and talent view. Being able to categorize and control these worker types with 20-year old technology such as the current ERP platforms out there, however, is difficult, to say the least. 

Mercer Talent Trends

There have also been some huge accelerating factors to consider in the last 5 years. The gig economy growth has thrown further caution to the wind in managing risk and compliance. It is estimated that by 2023, 52% of workers expect to participate in the gig economy- that is not work full-time for any single employer.

Diversity, equality, and inclusion have yet to be balanced and addressed globally and post-COVID-19, we’re seeing a massive opportunity to maximize globalization in talent management. 

So how do we address these issues?


The path to the realization of ‘true’ total talent management is strewn with a myriad of intrinsic organizational barriers in mainly 5 key areas.

Let’s explore what they are and how to overcome them…

1. Talent Acquisition 

Talent acquisition has been at the forefront of leading TTM solutions, predominantly driven by service providers offering outsourcing solutions, like the managed service program (MSP) or procurement services, to provide workforce visibility and controls. These solutions may answer questions from different stakeholders across the organization, but they neither offer a single view of the workforce or create shared ownership of talent and therefore, maintain the silos therein. 

Worker classification and categorization in talent acquisition is also a pain area. Whilst permanent and contingent are easy to differentiate, the growing complexities of the extended workforce category continue to evolve. The ability to aggregate workers into one single silo for ease of management is a huge rarity and one much needed by buyers and managers alike. 

Total talent acquisition solutions need to ensure that existing silos are removed, customers have a single storefront that is optimized with malleable controls for all types of talent. This reduces risks, ensures a fitting supply chain for rapid sourcing capabilities and widens talent pools to maximize return on investment, and delivers cost savings. 

Additionally, the talent economy is now ever-more global. Removing restrictive controls around the traditional localized talent delivery models unlock opportunities for diverse talent pools and potentially at lower costs, with a greater return.

2. Talent Technology 

Probably the busiest area of TTM solutions today, you can procure anything from vendor management systems (VMS) for your contingent workforce, a human capital management (HCM) tool for your employed workforce, and more recently a freelancer management system (FMS) for the gig economy, right through to performance management systems, time and attendance technology, technology accelerators such as artificial intelligence, automation and more. Frankly, you’re spoilt for choice. And with this, comes decisions such as which way to go for, how to integrate, how to accelerate, and of course, who pays for what. 

The key issue though, is that there are far too many solutions, most without great integration capabilities and still, none (or at least, very few) that provide the single workforce view and management capability that is the need of the hour. 

Total talent technology doesn’t mean a variety of choices for acquisition and management, it means an easy integration of your extended workforce platform to your core HCM tool to create a true consolidated view. It means artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning all work seamlessly to minimize your input and maximize analytics, and enhance the usability of your controls configuration. 

Most importantly, your total talent technology landscape should be owned by a single body or office, one dedicated to total talent management where costs are equitably spread to buyers with a single source-of-truth. This also provides the opportunity for true accuracy of asset and access management, subjects growing ever-more important in today’s world.

3. Talent Management 

Talent Management has been and likely always will be moving the goalposts of what is required from the organization. From generational demand differences from baby boomers and Gen-X to Gen-Y and now Gen-Z, we’ve seen shifts in engagement needs, tenure expectations, the rise of gig working, remote working, and technology needs. Not to mention the impact of COVID-19 on all of us. 

Furthermore, we’ve seen the rising importance of employer branding and employee value propositions (EVP), but this is currently exclusively focused on employed talent. We need to move away from EVP and towards TVP: talent value proposition, inclusive of all types of talent to attract the finest, regardless of employment type. 

Total talent management should be inclusive of all types of talent to return benefit to those who are working with you to ensure you have the best retention rates, a healthy attrition rate in the right places to maintain compliance and innovation, and a way to truly engage and nurture your talent. 

Ensuring performance and productivity management for all talent types is paramount for the workplace of the future and being able to do this across all types of talent will feed strategic efficiencies for future planning and agility for economic change. With productivity rates 25% higher with engaged employees and yet only 45% of employees enjoying engagement at their organizations, one can imagine the improvement when you consider, manage and engage your talent as one.

4. Talent Development 

Up-skilling and re-skilling have been key buzzwords for the last few years following numerous studies of the impact of automation and the rise of robotization. We now get the benefit of reducing our laborious tasks with automation, allowing us to focus on enhancing human relationships, critical strategic thinking, and creativity that only our human DNA is capable of. 

Talent development is now more crucial than ever, but without a unified view and talent management capability, one cannot mitigate redundancies due to technology advancements, or avoid unnecessary costs and certainly cannot accurately invest in the incumbent workforce to maximize engagement, learning, output, happiness, and retention. 

Total talent development ensures a future for all types of talent, is in tune with market signals and molds the organizational talent pool accordingly. Understanding core skill sets of all talent currently in and available to the organization are critical for balance and planning, as well as defining not only obvious career and engagement pathways but also ones that can be laid down before employees to navigate them through changes. 

With 80% of workers saying that upskilling/reskilling training has boosted their confidence, (employment law compliant) options must be offered out to the wider workforce to enhance employee engagement and wellbeing.

5. Talent Strategy 

Based on what we have discussed so far, it is quite evident that there is currently no clear winning strategy that can deliver ‘true’ total talent management and sustain organizational goals. HR has their employee strategy, procurement will have their contingent worker strategy and IT will likely have a very juvenile digital talent strategy, all very rarely combining approaches to optimize the output of their organization. 

Total talent strategy aims to aggregate these once siloed talent buyers and creators into one function, planning in a symphony, operating in a lean manner, and maximizing output, engagement, and effectiveness for all talent types. This allows for the ever-important need of globalization of the talent landscape, as recently accelerated by COVD-19, meaning that you can engage with talent anywhere, anytime, at your convenience and all the while maintaining the core fundamentals for talent management that the organization needs. 

It’s important to call out that no single strategy will work for every organization, far from it. Each organization has a different blueprint, culture, workforce mix, and vision, so each TTM strategy should be unique. 

How do you solve this talent puzzle? To learn more, download the full guide below.

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