How to Win at Total Workforce Management (Part 2 of 3)

How to Win at Total Workforce Management (Part 2 of 3)

We’re seeing more and more evidence of the opportunities and competitive advantages afforded to organisations who take on a strategic, holistic total workforce management in their business.

As worker preferences shift to increasingly non-traditional models of gig, contract, and non-employee status’, organisations need to get their strategic talent management plan in order, to be best positioned for maximum ROI – and competitive advantage – from their talent investment.

There are many reasons to adopt a total talent solution, outside of the changing dynamic of today’s workforce; issues including skills shortage, costs, productivity loss…. and many others. In today’s market, it’s increasingly evident that the traditional talent management approach is falling short. We’ve covered this issue before, in different contexts, here and here.

But today, in this second of our three-part series, we’re talking about the operational and stakeholder impact of adopting a successful total talent model.

Firstly, how do organisations make better talent strategy decisions?

There’s no hiding the fact that real competitive advantage can be achieved if organisations lean heavily on workforce data, to inform the guiding principles for a total talent solution. Talent analytics provide evidence to map out the total talent course.

External categories of talent analytics can include:

  • skills availability by industry
  • skills availability by city or state
  • employment figures
  • economic indicators
  • compensation trends

And internal categories of talent analytics can include:

  • retention numbers
  • engagement scores
  • training & development VS engagement
  • talent acquisition – quality, timeframe and costs
  • workforce assessment – productivity & KPI measures
  • team assessments
  • cost-per-hire
  • loss/retention of IP
  • skills analysis

Many organisations won’t have the set-up to analyse this data prior to setting a total talent solution in place. If that’s the case the starting point for total talent will be completely organic: both preparing the strategy and setting in place the technology to gather the required data.

There WILL be some data to kick things off. But no matter what, don’t forget the data doesn’t lie. Used with original intent, there’s no suppositions or unconscious bias’ that could incorrectly get in the way of your ability to formulate the right total talent strategy, one that is suited to your organisation. You just need to be very particular and consistent with the data to ensure your approach is successful, sustainable and competitively superior.

Stakeholder impact of a Total Talent approach

Be prepared to upset some stakeholders. It’s inevitable.

But it doesn’t need to be painful.

Many organisations become unstuck in this process, when they ignore the data, and try to put a new format (total talent management) into an old framework (silos of talent). Guaranteed, this will fail.

Conversely, don’t think by taking in a mass of new workforce data, you’ll be able to set & forget. Wrong again. Rather, the best approach is to first, clearly define the parameters of the total talent strategy (for example timing, departmental inclusion, costs, hiring approach, workforce planning, technology, program transition, talent quotas, talent mobility, future-scoping skills – and more). From there, document the likely stakeholder impact: at both management and team levels. Then set the timeframes (and stakeholder expectations). And finally outline a plan for stakeholder participation: this outline becomes your working document, as you increasingly engage (and persuade) all stakeholder groups to get on board with the total talent plan.

Remember to factor in the potential disconnect between key functions that will need to be a party to a total talent solution – like compensation, recruiting, training, procurement, career mapping, forecasting – functions that often speak in different languages, and frequently operate independently of each other. In many organisations, this ‘bringing together’ of key talent functions, is the first step to a cohesive, collaborative total talent solution. Without this collaboration, your chances of success are less likely.

And of course, throughout this stakeholder impact stage, make sure you’ve documented what success looks like for everyone involved. These will be your go-to mantras when certain stakeholders get jumpy about change. Agree with key members of your leadership team about the success measures. Then document them. Then get to it.

Total Workforce Management and Change Management

We could write an entire book on the intricacies of change management when it comes to adopting a total workforce management solution. That’s because the requirement for cross-functional collaboration can be particularly complex. No longer will the responsibility for engaging and managing talent fall under procurement and HR, for example. Operations, IT, finance, supply chain, business leadership and your PMO will all play a key function, based on the size and complexity of your business.

Any change implementation is typically slow and frustrating for business leadership. And when applied in a traditional top-down context to today’s talent market, unlikely to succeed. Consider these five factors when embarking upon a change to a total talent strategy in your business:

  1. Pick the right team. People in your business that will be solid agents of change, and that believe in what the total talent solution will deliver
  2. Engage your communications team. No secret as to why they’re so good at getting a message across. They’ll be key to driving business-wide understanding, timeframes and benefits. They’re your mouthpiece
  3. Make sure all levels of management and staff are across the impending change, as relevant to their function and role. Surprises typically aren’t welcome. So avoid at all costs
  4. Ensure your approach is going to fit the culture and business strategy: changing your talent strategy for the sake of it is cultural and strategic madness. The shift to total talent needs to address the workforce challenges of the business today, and those you can foresee into the future
  5. Be patient with the pace of change, but don’t sit back and cruise. Drive the program carefully, factoring in the business activity, strategy and people’s time – this isn’t their key priority, it’s yours.

To conclude, keep in mind that whilst the operational impacts on the business will be painful in the short-term, the outcome from a strategically planned and implemented total talent solution will achieve harmony and workforce optimisation across ALL categories of talent in your business. And if you keep analysing the data consistently, and applying those learnings to your strategy – especially from a future-scope standpoint – you’ll improve not only your workforce productivity and optimisation, but also your competitive advantage, talent cost position and profitability. Win-win-win.

In the final of this series, we’re going to look at the impact of technology, and leveraging its power, when adopting a total talent solution.