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Key insights for a ‘total talent’ approach (where contingent workers aren’t an afterthought!)

Talent Management
CXC Global7 min read
CXC GlobalMay 06, 2024
CXC Global

How are you integrating your contingent workforce into your total talent management approach? In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, the role of contingent workers has evolved from merely filling temporary talent gaps to becoming an integral part of many companies’ workforce strategies.

However, some organisations are still considering contingent workers as an afterthought, overlooking the value they can bring to the table. Let’s take a look at the various categories of talent, such as contractors, freelancers, Statement of Work (SoW) workers, and employees, and explore the risks and rewards associated with including your contingent workers in your total talent management approach.

What is total talent management?

When we talk about ‘talent’ in the context of total talent management, it refers to the expertise, skills, knowledge, and capability of individuals to achieve specific tasks and outcomes within the workplace. ‘Total Talent’, on the other hand, refers to the entire scope of human resources of ‘talent’ including employees and non-permanent workers, such as independent contractors, temporary workers, part-time workers, seasonal workers, offshore workers, SoW workers, professional services, outsourced services, and freelancers.

Meanwhile, outside of the human scope of talent, you have the ‘automated/robotic’ side, which can include robots, bots, software, automation in manufacturing plants, drones, augmented reality, and other software based or technical resources for achieving business goals.

And again, in the context of workforce management, we’re looking at the increasing trend of employers who are considering a total talent management approach for the attraction, engagement, and management of talent. Today, when an employer seeks to have a job, task, or project completed, they’ll take a broader scope of fulfilment, whereby all sources of talent are considered, including contingent workers.

In a recent report, an increasing number (65%) of organisations across the globe are looking to increase their reliance on contingent workers in the next two years. These non-permanent employees have become an integral part of the organisation, and their roles have expanded to include interim management, contractors with specialised skills, and coaches.

What’s driving the shift to turn to total talent management solutions?

Amid the economic slowdown and talent shortages, organisations are seeking ways to optimise operations, contain fixed costs, and establish greater headcount flexibility. In this new economy where commerce is always on the move, remaining agile and adaptable is crucial to tapping into the opportunities this dynamic landscape presents. For example, there’s an increasing shift across various industries towards project-based delivery (product and services-based), breaking down traditional barriers between permanent employees and contingent workers. On the other hand, the increasing desire for flexibility among workers is a major driving force behind this shift.

Key considerations for achieving successful total talent management: Changing your approach to contingent workers

Crafting an effective total talent management strategy requires a fresh approach when engaging with contingent workers. Here are some practical steps:

1. Get a clear understanding of contingent worker expectations

Let’s get it straight from the contingent worker. You need to know why they are interested in doing the job. Is it for money, the chance to develop new skills, or the opportunity to work with certain people? What do you give the person in exchange for their expertise? Asking contractors upfront helps you get to know them better and understand their needs.

Once you have the ideas for what they want, make sure you strive to deliver on these expectations and give them equal footing as a talent resource.

2. Set clear expectations for their performance

Just like working with permanent hires, you must make sure you establish a clear expectation of what you want in return for their services. Be prescriptive in defining their responsibilities and outcomes, whenever possible. Share your expectations for how you want them to engage with the work culture and environment. And take some time to discuss the business goals of the project they are engaged in.  

3. Build strong relationships

Clearly, with some contingent workers, you simply don’t need to invest as much into the relationship as you would with permanent employees. However, it’s still important to strike a balance and avoid treating them as mere commodities or transaction elements of your workforce. It’s okay to get to know them. Ask them about their family, weekends, and hobbies. By doing so, you give all the  talent in your scope a position within your team’s culture. This is particularly important if you plan to continue engaging these contractors in the future. Take the time to know their other skills and consider how they (or others in their network) can help fulfil your future business needs.

4. Make them feel like a part of your team

All types of talent, including freelancers and contingent workers, are better engaged, more productive, and happier when they feel like they’re part of the team. Avoid creating status differentiators that make contingent workers feel like they’re second rate. Draw a fine line between treating your contractors as ‘staff’ and making them feel welcomed.

5. Give them thoughtful feedback on their performance

While there’s no requirement for a formal performance review with contingent workers, offering open and honest feedback on their work is essential. By doing so, you promote a greater understanding of expectations, cultivate mutual respect, and establish a stronger level of engagement, ultimately leading to better results for your organisation.

Total talent management solutions: HR’s role in the engagement of ALL talent

Establishing the right workforce metrics, including measurable results, is critical in the current shift from full-time employee worker populations to increasingly contractor based. HR is thus taking on a more strategic role, whereby they’re required to link talent investment to business performance.

HR leaders need to have a better understanding of what levers to pull to deliver business projects and outcomes for both full-time and contract workers within their organisations. Traditionally, it has been challenging to keep the data from contingent workers separate from that of full-time employees. A lack of data integration across all business functions has made it more difficult for HR to have the reporting capabilities required to make more informed decisions about the type of talent required for the organisation.

But today, this is changing due to the shift towards total talent management, where greater cost and output efficiencies are needed to maintain a competitive advantage. A cohesive approach to engaging and managing talent—all talent—is the money spot here. And data sits at its core.

As an HR leader, what can you do?  

To align your workforce investment with your business outcomes, consider the benefits of cloud-based workforce solutions. There are turnkey options available today that allow for seamless integration of data from all corners of your workforce, enabling your organisation to make better talent decisions. Specifically, evaluating workforce solutions such as managed service providers (MSPs) and vendor management systems (VMS) can help support your total talent management approach.

The role of MSP

The need for the MSP to be a total workforce solution is on the rise. It has now evolved into a more strategic service solution that the transaction solution of the past. Access to the right talent pools at the right time and with the right vendor partners is critical. In fact, some MSPs are starting to integrate with recruitment process outsourcing (RPOs), a strategic approach that allows for an optimal mix of full-time and flexible workers through talent pooling and strategic partner vendor alignment. In addition, MSPs are also moving into the areas of succession planning, staff retention, compensation, and cultural diversity—or a ‘complete’ talent solution.

In today’s dynamic talent market, MSPs are looking to establish the ultimate blend of Statement of Work (SoW) workers, independent contractors, and freelancers. As a result, MSPs are adapting their sourcing approach to accommodate ‘talent in the cloud’. Traditional staffing firms are becoming less critical in the on-demand economy as MSPs and employers take on a more active role in sourcing talent.

MSP and VMS in staffing

As organisations adapt to the evolving talent landscape, HR must explore the growing opportunities offered by MSP and VMS software for a better and more integrated talent engagement and management approach. Carefully review those MSPs that are industry-based models, where the outdated one-size-fits-all MSP is sidelined. Instead of settling for traditional MSP models, you can partner with a trusted specialist service provider who can understand your unique needs and turn your talent management practices into a highly functioning total talent management solution.

Manage your workforce with a trusted partner

Managing your diverse workforce, from full-time employees to contingent workers, can present a whole lot of challenges. It’s important to rely on a trusted partner, like CXC, to help you overcome these obstacles and confidently grow your workforce. We’ve been in the space for 32 years, and we understand that every organisation has unique requirements. That’s why our customisable modular, a la carte MSP solution lets you choose the level of support you need, be it in sourcing, engagement, payment, supply chain management, or compliance. And if you need to scale up or scale down in the future, no problem; we’re here to assist and guide you through the process every step of the way.

Take the first step and contact us today to learn more about how CXC can help manage your workforce effectively.


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About CXC


At CXC, we want to help you grow your business with flexible, contingent talent. But we also understand that managing a contingent workforce can be complicated, costly and time-consuming. Through our MSP solution, we can help you to fulfil all of your contingent hiring needs, including temp employees, independent contractors and SOW workers. And if your needs change? No problem. Our flexible solution is designed to scale up and down to match our clients’ requirements.

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