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Total talent management: preparing for constant change

What will 2021 bring? After such a turbulent year, it would be audacious to start making big statements. But one thing seems to be a given: ‘the old normal’ is not coming back. Even more, companies will quickly have to find a way to deal with the likelihood of ongoing changes. A good first step is building an agile workforce and valuing both internal and external mobility. To do so, you’ll need to embrace total talent management.

    What is total talent management?

    Total talent management (TTM) is an emerging workforce management model. It focuses on satisfying a company’s staffing demands by integrating all talent sources: from employees on permanent payroll to contingent workers (i.e. outsourced and non-permanent workers). The latter include freelancers, consultants, students and on-call workers, which work on-site or off-site.

      Labour market on the move

      Employers that only hire employees on payroll are becoming scarce. The reasons are to be found in labour market trends. In many sectors, a shortage of certain profiles results in an increasing number of bottleneck vacancies. Extra difficulty: some jobs disappear while others emerge. By 2030, you’ll be recruiting for a variety of positions that don’t even exist yet. Or, what about the mass outflow of skilled and experienced baby boomers: who will replace them? To deal with these and other issues, more and more European companies are starting to create ‘flexible shells’ – pools of contingent workers.

        6 out of 10

        European companies employ contingent workers or consider doing so in the future.

          Added value over employment contract

          Total talent management implies that you effectively identify both external and internal talent. By shifting the focus from employment contracts to the added value someone can bring to the company, you open the door to new opportunities. For example, external consultants often serve to end a creativity deadlock, while they can also bring best practices from other jobs to the table. In other words: your business thrives when contingent workers informally share their know-how and expertise with your full-time workers. Moreover, a flexible shell allows you swiftly react to fluctuations in demand – an obvious advantage in times of COVID-19.

            Internal mobility extends its appeal

            So, is a large pool of contingent workers the holy grail? No, building a flexible shell is not a goal in itself. Sometimes you’re much better off by upskilling and reskilling your current employees to fulfil your workforce needs. This is mostly done via formal training courses, but temporary exchanges and internal internships are also valuable initiatives that enable employees to develop new skills and competencies. Moreover, by focusing on sustainable employability, employees will be more productive and loyal to the company.


              of skill and competency gaps are met by training and developing own personnel, according to 3,000 European companies.

                Talent sharing: new kid on the block?

                A third possible course of action to boost agility in your company is by (temporary) talent sharing. The global pandemic has split up the labour market into businesses that need to upscale and others that need to downscale. This imbalance could be addressed by sharing talent between companies and sectors – aka external mobility. Benefits include avoiding lay-offs and allowing employees to learn new skills in new environments. Over 1 in 4 European companies already claim that talent sharing is somewhat to very common in their workforce management policies. If 2021 is anything like 2020, this number is likely to rise. To be continued ...

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