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Talent Management – Ultimate Guide to Staffing

What is Talent Management?

According to the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, ‘Talent management seeks to attract, identify, develop, engage, retain and deploy individuals who are considered particularly valuable to an organization. By managing talent strategically, organizations can build a high performance workplace, encourage a learning organization, add value to their branding agenda, and contribute to diversity management. For these reasons, Human Resources professionals consider talent pool management to be among their key priorities.’ As a sub-discipline of Human Resources Management, talent management addresses the complete life-cycle of curating an effective workforce. In addition to the phases of the workforce management lifecycle found in the CIPD description, three other areas sometimes come into play. They are:

  1. The qualification of how best to get work done – given that there are so many ways now to get work done, including procurement routes, micro-task portals, knowledge and crowdsourcing, technology automation and artificial intelligence solutions etc.
  2. The off-boarding of talent – considered important for companies to learn from their mistakes and to protect organizations from any legal risks that might arise when people are let go.
  3. Management of employment risk – given that we live in a highly regulated society and, regardless of how someone is employed, it’s important that organizations honor their legal obligations surrounding diversity and equal opportunities, data privacy, the avoidance of co-employment, contract risks etc.

The talent management lifecycle model therefore, more realistically looks something like the illustration below. Note that the model below is based broadly on the ITIL model popularly used in business IT functions to articulate operational life-cycles.

The Talent Management Life-cycle

STRATEGY AND DESIGN Anticipate - Gain an understanding of the resourcing needs of the enterprise Requirements definition and work triage - The qualification of how best to get work done

DISCOVER Attract - Draw best-fit talent to the door of the organization Identify - Develop an appreciation of the qualities and capabilities of the incumbent and affiliated workforce

OPERATE AND IMPROVE Develop - Mature the skills and capabilities of the workforce Engage - Create an engaged workforce that’s motivated to work Retain - Retain access to the best people Deploy - Allocate work to resources Risk manage - Protect to enterprise from workforce and employment risks

REVIEW Off-board - Gather feedback from people leaving to learn how to improve and mitigate risks



The emergence of continuous re-orgs

Organizations are having to re-organize their people structures almost every year as the consequence of unrelenting market changes. Digital technologies have created a spirt of business model redesigns. Companies revisit their business models every year these days, not every ten years as used to be the case. They do this because market structures are changing so rapidly, enabled by technological advances, no company can afford to put their head in the sand for long. Of the Fortune 500 firms that were listed in 1955, only 60 remained in 2017, thanks to the creative destruction that fuels economic prosperity. The need to adapt resources to serve ever changing business needs is putting pressure on corporations particularly to re-think their commitments to full-time employed workforces. The Human Resources costs and disruption brought about by change makes re-orgs painful to businesses. Perhaps more impactful on performance is the misery impacted on employees. Research by TINYpulse suggests that employee “happiness” scores drop by 10% after reorgs.

Tapping into the Gig Economy

How your business can profit from gig workers

Faced with the need to continuously adapt workforce skills and footprints, organizations are developing smarter ways to resource work. These contracts and models are baked into their business model designs and offer a step-change reduction in operating costs against which incumbent market leaders — those following a traditional full-time employment model — simply can’t compete. Examples include companies like Uber and Deliveroo that have become the poster boys of a new way of employing a workforce. These companies were quick to adopt Zero Hours Contracts and hire contractors to deliver their customers or produce. But these standard-bearer brands represent just the visible tip of a huge iceberg that is changing the employment market.

Gig economy” describes an economy based on performing tasks and projects, generally today offered through a digital web porta l. This emerging contingent workforce is progressively replacing regular full-time employment and, in the U.S. is expected to be the majority of employment by 2027.

How large is the gig economy?

Morgan Stanley, reported in 2019 that up to 35% of the U.S. working population of over 55 million people may be engaging in temporary work of some form, while in the United Kingdom, Germany and France, the rate of growth in the economy exceeding relative full-time employment growth gig workers in the EU doubled in the years 2000-2014.

Ernst and Young suggest that since the financial crisis, full-time hiring rates among the U.S. S&P500 index of companies have fallen to 2.7% while gig working has increased. Similar trends are also observed in other economies — for example, in 2016, almost 5 million people performed commissioned tasks in the United Kingdom. Nearly half of global company HR directors surveyed by PwC expect that external contractors will account for 20 per cent of the total number of workers, while the value of the U.S. gig economy is expected to reach USD2.7 trillion in 2025.

Where is the gig economy taking hold?

Research conducted by BCG on 11 markets indicates that the IT sector is most affected. In this sector, gig working provides the primary source of income for 9% of workers, while 24% see it as an additional income source. From our experience at Simplify Workforce, all industries are now taking their strategies towards an on-demand workforce seriously, with most adopting a Total Talent Management (TTM) ethos in the way they source work. Whilst general perceptions of the subject are that gig working is only for manual or relatively low-skilled jobs like taxi driving, this isn’t backed up by hiring trends. It’s every bit as likely you’re going to find top-talent and hard-to-reach job skills (like scientific, technical and professional candidates) in the gig economy—because they can achieve higher rates of pay and an improved work-life balance—than in the full-time workforce. Adoption of gig working is across the board.

Gig working is for big enterprise too

Gig working used to be something people did for small businesses, but not anymore. The majority of Fortune 500 firms are now embracing gig workers for non-core roles such as marketing, Human Resources, published relations, and procurement. Even in technical, professional and scientific roles, the paucity of gig workers means that firms are having to trash plans for the recruitment of full-time employees and instead are offering these roles out on contract.

The rise of the gig economy gives rise to the need for new technology ecosystems (so-called ‘Total Talent Portals’) to connect organizations to the contingent workforce they need on their terms.

How organizations are responding to the gig economy

Employers are having to constantly review their skills needs, sometimes having to re-equip anything up to 40% of their workforce to new skills every 3-years. This unpredictability in talent demands, creates a need for a more flexible, on-demand workforce. Indeed, the pace of change in the staffing industry is not slowing down. The market for talent is unrecognizable to a decade ago.

We hear that something like 40%of all jobs in the USA are hired out to continent workers through indirect programs. According to the latest published research , something like 60 million workersgo to make-up the gig economy in the U.S. andby 2027(at the latest) the majority of U.S. workers will be contract workers.

Pace of adoption

The gig economy is moving into full swing, largely because it offers employers lower employment costs, risks etc. while improving their ability to get jobs done and overcome the rigidity of employing a full-time workforce. When business models change so rapidly, that matters.

According to Statistics, 56 percent of gig economy workers in the U.S. report having two or more jobs or projects, and 58 percent report working 30 hours or less per week.



Vendor Management Systems (VMS)

Vendor Management System is a web application that helps businesses to manage an procure staffing services including contract or contingent labor through third-party staffing suppliers. Vms systems often include the management of Statement of Work(SOW) consultants and outsourced services within their scope of coverage. Typical features of a VMS include supplier management, order distribution, consolidated billing, risk mitigation, headcount tracking and significant enhancements in reporting capability over manual systems and processes.”

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State of the Art ‘Today’

With the industry’s focus in sourcing on-demand talent through staffing vendors over the past decade, VMS are considered state-of-the-art in the talent industry, but given the shift towards a Gig economy, together with the process automation possibilities of artificial intelligence and software VMS are beginning to fall short on market expectations.

Where Vendor Management Systems Have Come From and How They Are Changing

As organizations look to lever more talent sourcing channels than ever before, they are expecting more capabilities these days than any traditional VMS can hope to offer. Expect VMS offerings in 2020 to encompass an expanded set of activities and capabilities, along with improved AI-enabled intelligence at every point in the talent and services buying lifecycle. Here’s why. VMS software has been around for over a decade. In the operation of indirect procurements for the contingent workforce market, they’ve now become commonplace. It’s thought that the majority of Fortune 500 organizations today either operate their own or pay for a third-party to do it for them.

Some background…

When they arrived on the market, the role of the VMS system was to normalize indirect channels and achieve early-stage economies—by enforcing terms and conditions across supplies, reduce operating costs through automation of workflows, speed up payments and cut out duplication of effort and steps in processes. Systems were expected to take care of the publishing of job opportunities, manage and aggregate vendor responses, simplify scheduling of interviews, address the thorny issue of background check processing, make sure timesheets and expenses were dealt with in a timely and accurate way, then automate the purchase to pay process; resulting in workers, and vendors getting paid the right amount at the right times.  Not much has changed in the VMS world over a decade. Adoption rates have increased as organizations have learned to embrace the indirect talent market in their operational behaviors and the number of vendors on contracts have spiralled up, causing organizations to have to address the topic of vendor management and governance. So, more demand, but the actual functionality of the systems has plateaued. Until this last year that is. **In many ways, 2019 was a game-changing year for Vendor Management Systems owing to a perfect storm of new customer expectations emerging from the shift to a gig economy market that not all vendors were able to respond to.**Features like:

1. Integration with core back-office systems

There are two major integrations happening with VMS presently;

  1. Horizontal integration – to make the integration with front-end market analysis platform and back-end payment processing systems (and core systems of record) simpler to reduce cost, complexity and manual tasks
  2. Vertical integration – across direct and indirect talent sourcing channels to equip procurement with the ability to compare, vet, select and onboard different types of third-party talent side-by-side through integrated systems.

Many traditional systems are unable to offer levels of integration that fundamentally remove tedious manual data processing tasks for recruiters and hiring manager. This is principally because the original clutch of VMS solutions offerings were developed in the early era of Software-as-a-Service apps and effectively offer one platform to all customers. This significantly hampers the ability of the VMS vendor to respond to customization and integration requests.

2. Mobile Accessibility

Organizations seeking to recruit contingent workers expect to deliver mobile-first application experiences.

As far back as 2015, Pew Research found that 41 percent of adults have used a smartphone at some point in their job search while 28% of Americans and half of young adults have used a smartphone during a job search. That number today is thought to more than 65%.

We see more people wanting to process their timesheets, expenses and transactions when and wherever they’re working; more hiring managers wanting to confirm interviews and approve payments when working on the move. Mobile-enablement means that notifications can be used to draw the attention of system users to events happening now on the VMS. Yet, surprisingly, few platforms have elected to support mobile platforms.

3. Job Triage Systems

These days there are many ways businesses can get their jobs done, and several of these don’t involve hiring anyone! For example: Knowledge and crowdsourcing platforms provide an outlet to organizations seeking knowledge where they can promote a question and pay for answers. Software robots can mimic the work humans do to harvest, aggregate, populate, sort and act on data-sets; potentially reducing or removing manual data processing activities that form part of many knowledge workers roles. The role of job triage systems is to find the best way of sourcing talent for a particular role based on the metrics of the activity in question. Vendor Management Systems are increasingly being challenged to integrate job triage functionality into their capabilities to aid front-line staff in making intelligent sourcing decisions, one decision at a time; opening doors to all potential sourcing options.

3. Direct Sourcing via Job Boards

Of all the great opportunities presented by the popularity of social media platforms used for business like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook has been the opportunity for companies to promote themselves to prospective talent through their social media presence. Organizations adopting online job boards offer the potential for interested parties to apply for available jobs. It also means organizations promoting jobs can harvest applicants to ‘keep hold of talent’ potentially useful to them in the future.

4. Statement of Work

Perhaps the biggest change seen in 2019 has been the adoption by companies of blended talent acquisition strategies—that some are calling Total Talent Management (TTM) approach—as organizations seek to tap into the gig economy by leveraging full-time, part-time and (SOW) projects; with a larger slice of the workforce pie being afforded to contingent labor.

Vendor Management Systems are evolving into Total Talent Management Portals to arm indirect procurement teams with ALL OF THE TALENT SOURCING WEAPONS modern agile businesses demand.

Organizations are hiring more of their talent on Statement of work contract terms that focus remuneration of vendors based on contractual outcomes that marry up to their project outcomes. In this way, organizations are able to effectively gift-wrap their project milestones into hiring contracts so that contractors get paid only when they achieve the project outcomes, and not simply for turning up.

5. Candidate Code Testing

Third-party online apps like HackerRank are revolutionizing code testing in the IT market to vet the promised qualities stated by candidates. These industry specific checks are increasing as Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’) installs new possibilities in pre-onboarding checks. Vendor Management Systems have a major role to play in simplifying access to these popular platform by integrating these features into their platform and offering Single-Sign-On (SSO) to useful apps organizations want to use.

6. Bias Avoidance

Unconscious bias happens when people either intentionally or unknowingly insert terms into documents (like Job Definitions and CVs) or recruitment processes. For example:

  • Requiring roles to be fully co-located or inflexible hours will rule specific groups out;
  • Sifting through CVs that contain potential triggers for bias such as the use of masculine terms;
  • Adoption of a policy to reject CVs with an unexplained gap in employment history that can impact on people from poorer backgrounds that are more likely to take time off to care for relatives;
  • The unknowing installation of interview, short-list or on-boarding bias where operational behaviours aren’t corrected where bias might exist.

Recruitment bias can introduce unintentional discrimination and result in poor decision-making. It’s become one of the hottest recruitment topics in an era where the ability to demonstrate fairness and parity of opportunity for people from all sorts of backgrounds is not only a legal requirement but also a major contributor to a positive brand reputation. Vendor Management Systems serve to enforce positive behaviors in recruitment processes and therefore have a major role to play in the avoidance of recruitment bias, and yet very few solutions embrace explicit functionality to enforce positive behaviors.

7. Job Pricing Intelligence

VMS capabilities to aid organizations in gaining a rich appreciation of the rates they should be charging for the right skills to get their jobs done have moved to a new level with artificial intelligence-led solutions. A broad range of third-party ‘big data’ oriented platforms—such as Brightfield Strategies Talent Data Exchange, Gartner TalentNeuron and IQN’s cognitive intelligence engine—now harvest job category pricing data across regions to offer employers forensic pricing indicators they can use to make sure they pay the going rate for the talent they need in their area. Vendor Management Systems have a key role to play in bringing access to these platforms and seamlessly integrating them with job boards and recruitment tools to build a joined-up (and ‘rate-aware’) Total talent management ecosystem for employers.

8. Vendor Risk Management and Compliance

With an increasingly regulated business environment, further exacerbated by changes to tax systems and the introduction of the EU’s GDPR, organisations are under pressure to ensure they don’t fall foul of employment law. Vendor management systems have a key role to play in governing data appropriately and enforcing vendor terms and conditions; honoring tax systems, information privacy, data security, equal opportunities and diversity policies.

Second Generation Vendor Management Systems

Most organizations are awash with tech tools, most of which don’t talk to one-another; creating more manual data crunching and tedious admin work for users, adding yet more to IT legacy systems burdens, loading ever more work on stretched IT teams. At one time, enterprise apps were purchased like off-the-shelf, stand-alone building blocks, but not anymore. There are no green-field enterprises with ‘bits missing’ in their technology stacks. Any mature enterprise will have its assembly of Systems-of-Record in place to manage business-critical data processing and management. Surrounding these core platforms will be an assembly of functional IT platforms and department systems that serve industry or capability specific operational nuances bring a level of adaptability to the enterprise data processing capability. All of this enterprise-IT doesn’t mean that all business-necessary (if not business-critical) processes are well served.

In a 2017poll conducted by SimCorp, **31%**of firms stated approximately **30%**or more of their daily activities are performed manually. While finding good IT talent is sited by Gartner as one of the top 5 priorities****of CIOsin the U.S. for 2020, addressing systems consolidation and the legacy systems burden also remains begrudgingly in the top 10priority list.

When businesses elect to tool-up their indirect Talent Sourcing Vendor Management program with a VMS, the last thing they need today is another separate IT system to discharge this function. Examine the tech-stack of most organizations and you’ll probably find that before they embark on a VMS deployment, they already have a Financial Management System (FMS), a Human Resources Management System (HRMS), most probably an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), maybe even a Job Board, an online recruitment portal and a Purchase-to-Pay platform. If these systems have been in place for a little while, then they’re likely to be embedded into the operational behaviors of the enterprise: users will be familiar with their use, accustomed to using them, reluctant to give them up. What’s needed then, is a glue-ware technology for Vendor Management that builds on what already exists, and fills in the gaps of functionality needed to bring the on-demand indirect talent sourcing capabilities of the enterprise to today’s standards. Delivering on this promise is difficult for the first generation of platform-based VMS like FieldGlass and Beeline, because they were modelled in a different era; when the anticipated requirement was to operate indirect contingent workforce vendor management separately to other aspects of direct sourcing and contract fulfilment:

1. Private-Cloud Based

Second Generation VMS platforms have been born in an era of cloud computing that didn’t exist when first generation VMS systems were invented. These early entrants into the VMS market worked on the assumption that all customers should share the capabilities of one platform. Inevitably that causes compromise because no two businesses work in the same way. The ‘SAP’ ethos is that technology should have best-practise processes built-in, and, when organizations buy a platform, they’ve best-practise imposed on their operational behaviors to improve that which once existed. This ideology is at odds with the new concept of integrated digital ecosystems founded on the belief that today enterprise technology is part of an organization’s stakeholder value creation (it isn’t simply a back-office asset investment to be offset against improved operating economies). The end-game is to create technology ecosystems that orchestrate business models and maximise the return to shareholders of the customer value created. Fundamental to these principles is that enabling technologies should deliver the dexterity to mix and blend with any other best-in-class components. Stand-alone tech platforms (as exampled first-generation VMS systems platforms) are ill-equipped to deliver on those promises.

2. Mobile-First

Mobile computing platforms have become the most adaptive computing environments for browser-based enterprise apps. Applications coded for use on a variety of mobile and computing formats are by their very nature more versatile and easier to deploy. For this reason, most youthful software vendors will adopt a mobile-first software development ecosystem.

3. Truly ‘Glue-ware Ready’

It’s not enough to offer Web Services as a means to integrate with incumbent identity management systems. Today, businesses expect their systems to act as one. That means Single-Sign-On; the ability for users not to be required to log-in to each system component, is a must.

Modern VMS platforms should incorporate best-of-breed components—like background check and coding skills testing, or market pricing insight platforms—and these building blocks should be incorporated into the talent management ecosystem as if they were natively authored.

Also essential is the ability to dove-tail process steps together. When core Human Resource Information Systems (HMRS) like WorkDay, are used everyday by members of the HR and recruitment team, it makes no sense to complicate matters by expecting Users to have to learn another interface. Much better to seamlessly integrate the new software building blocks to improve processes without Users noticing any great change in their activities.

4. Embracing ’No Interface’ Whenever Possible

Nobody wants workers to perform mundane tedious tasks.The best interface is NO INTERFACE. If machine-to-machine integrations are possible, they should always exist. One of the unfortunate characteristics of first generation VMS systems is they were designed around the presumption that humans would exist in the form of onsite administrators and Program Managers to ‘grease the wheels’ of recruitment workflows and send email after email to vendors, candidates and internal stakeholders. This is no longer sensible or affordable in a world of machine-to-machine interfaces, but designing humans out of processes once you’ve baked them in, isn’t a trivial task; especially when all of your customers are using your one and only software platform!

5. Big on Big Data

Technologies like Simplify VMS from Simplify Workforce are engineered on the latest cloud computing technology platforms and embraces all of the advances they have to offer including use of big data oriented flat file databases, rich data visualizations, rapid scaling and thoughtfully designed data security. Our orientation towards use of artificial intelligence and big data platforms means that we can work seamlessly with third-party technologies that are built on the same ethos.

Total Talent Management Portals: Technology supporting the gig economy

Changing attitudes and behaviors can be ‘enabled’ by effective Total talent Management technology ecosystem. This takes the form of an integrated portal that equips recruitment teams to work with procurement and IT colleagues to adopt the best approach to getting work done. Total Talent Management Portals (like SimplifyPortal) have a major role to play in equipping organizations with the technology ecosystem they need to reach all of the desirable work sourcing resources to fulfil work in the most cost effective way on-demand. In addition, they help organizations to adapt their attitudes, behaviors and processes to embrace new organisational designs and smarter ways of getting work done.

Components of Total Talent Management

Any total talent management solution needs to take care of the following disciplines: – Supporting recruitment via direct and indirect channels – Supporting full-time and contingent/freelance working – Supporting procurements of work packages by the micro-task, Statement-of-Work or Project Central to the operation of a successful TTM approach are the following factors: – A triage approach to determine the best way to get work fulfilled – Document and records management tools to record contracts, maintain records and normalise terms – A procurement capability able to offer out work in various ways – Process automation tools to streamline workflows and the management of procurements – Enabling tools to automate candidate selection, interviews, background checks and onboard – Operational tools to manage administrative processes – such as timesheets expenses and payments – Mechanisms to log activity, report on progress and deliver business insights to drive improvements.

AI For Recruitment

March of the robots

Software robots and Artificial Intelligence solutions are entering the business world at pace and how companies get their work done is being massively impacted by this dramatic change. Artificial Intelligence describes a genre of computing technology that builds solutions to work and act like humans do. Much of the focus of developments is around software algorithms that enable machine learning, although the simpler tasks that humans perform can be authored using traditional machine-to-machine automations, enabled by algorithms. Perhaps the most frequent use of the AI-genre in recruitment is the adoption of software robots to mimic humans in data entry, aggregation, analysis and report dissemination.

Real-world practical uses of AI technology in Total Talent Management

To find examples of how AI is being employed in the talent management discipline, read our article on AI for Recruitment



Anticipating talent needs

Gaining an understanding of the resourcing needs of the enterprise

Anticipating talent demands is at the heart of talent management strategy. And it may be a sensible demand of the Human Resources team to anticipate business demands but few organizations operate a formalized approach to doing it – or doing it well. Current approaches largely fall into two equally ineffective camps. The first is to do nothing rendering the term “talent management” meaningless. This reactive approach relies overwhelmingly on outside hiring. The second, common among older firms, relies on a bureaucratic model established in the 1950s for forecasting and succession planning. These legacy systems grew up in an era when business was predictable and that fall down because they’re costly, inaccurate and too slow to respond. So it is that in most organizations today, requirements for Human Resources emerge through department budget rounds or emerge as the result of workforce re-organization or attrition. There are some clear dividends to implementing effective systems to anticipate demand. These include to:

  • Gain a first-mover advantage to get into the talent market faster
  • Improve return-on-investment in developing employees
  • Reduce business continuity risks

Requirements definition and work triage

Work delivery today is bigger than ‘recruitment’

At one time, not so long ago, companies would automatically assume they need to recruit someone on a full-time contract to get work done. Then, the only way to get work done was for someone to manually do it. And the only sensible way of employing someone was to offer them a full-time job. Not today. Advances in technology mean that many tasks have been automated (think about typing, PAs, filing clerks etc.). With the advent of software robots, machine-to-machine processing and artificial intelligence, even more jobs can be automated today. Market watchers like McKinsey report that many of the jobs we assume humans will do can now be automated by known technology. They reported in 2016 that, “..currently demonstrated technologies could automate45 percent of the activities people are paid to perform and that about 60 percent of all occupations could see 30 percent or more of their constituent activities automated.”

Fulfilling work
Digital organizations are re-thinking their ‘business as usual’ approach to recruitment and work fulfilment

In most companies today, recruitment is a function of HR, separated from procurement and IT. When work may be performed through technology automation, robots, full-time workers, gig workers, knowledge management portals, crowdsourcing platforms or outsourcing firms, the best organizational unit to make decisions on how best to fulfil it is a centralized ‘organizational change and improvement team’ responsible for making triage decisions in the best interests of the enterprise. This cross-cutting team is best able to place business outcomes over departmental aspirational priorities. Separating out these delivery options through different decision-making and sourcing channels only serves to distort the decision making process. There are still challenges ahead for any organization looking to make the most of the job delivery options now available to companies. They include

  • Education to adapt behavioural norms– Departmental managers that hold a significant influence over how work is packaged and how it’s fulfilled need to be educated in the options at their disposal to get work done, although surprisingly few departmental managers have access to the broad gamut of task delivery options that exist in the market today.
  • Re-defining work packages in a smarter way– With so many different ways to contract work out – by the task, SOW contract, project or role etc. – all of the sensible choices of work delivery that exist today need to be available to buyers, framed by well-designed work packages. Procurement and Human Resources teams must work together if they are to make the most of sourcing opportunities presented by the gig economy.
  • Creating a tailored triage engine that provides outcome recommendations – Core to any effective work-fulfilment engine is a thoughtfully designed triage approach, that today probably includes AI-enabled technology to sift through the available packaging options.
  • Bringing access to relevant work sourcing options– Unless departmental managers have access to all of the various instruments to fulfil work, they can’t use them!


Drawing best-fit talent to the door of the organization

There is huge competition for talent. It’s no secret there’s a shortage of it around the world. There simply aren’t enough people to go around in a global market for talent that is experiencing a massive upsurge in demand for medical, scientific, technology and other digital economy job skills. Countries like Canada have an unemployment rate of less than 6% but in disciplines like IT, the unemployment rate is less than 2%. Meanwhile, America is facing an unprecedented skilled labor shortage. Speak to most Fortune 500 companies and they report growing numbers of open vacancies.

2019 survey by Gartner shows that talent shortage is viewed as the top emerging risk facing large enterprises. This US centered survey of 137 senior executives in 4Q18 showed that concerns about**“talent shortages”**now outweigh those around **“accelerating privacy regulation”**and “cloud computing”, which were the top two risks in 2018. According to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate is at a record 50-year low, and the US economyhad 7.6 million unfilled jobs.  The tech industry is hardest hit by job shortages. Six of the 10 jobs with the highest proportion of hard-to-fill vacancies are in IT.

In response to these challenges, companies have to work much harder to fill their vacancies. Harvard Businesses Review reports that, **‘Businesses have never done as much hiring as they do today. They’ve never spent as much money doing it.’**Unfortunately, we don’t know whether this spending actually produce satisfactory hires, as only about a third of U.S. companies say they monitor whether hiring practices lead to good employees.

What strategies are organizations adopting to attract talent?

Various approaches are being employed by organizations to attract talent in hyper-competitive talent markets. They include: Employing expert organizations to do it for them– Organizations lacking the know-how, resources and technology internally to attract talent are employing third parties to do it for them. Aabout 40%, of U.S. companies are outsourcing much if not all of the hiring process to “recruitment process outsourcers,” according to research by Korn Ferry. Targeting new-starters in the job market– Another strategy being adopted by employers is to target talent fresh out of college, with some recruiters tending to snatch up soon-to-be college graduates even before they become available to work. Some industries particularly are coming to depend on graduate talent because there isn’t any available capacity in the market. These areas include:

  • Software engineering
  • Teaching
  • Engineering
  • Marketing (especially digital marketing)
  • Quantity surveying
  • Nursing

Facing up the the realities of the market, companies are adapting their sourcing approaches even for graduates, with more graduate recruiters moving away from application forms towards new methods such as games, situational judgement tests and video interviews as their initial screening method. Promoting from within– It’s still a sensible strategy for companies to look within for talent but this has become increasingly rare as a practical solution to talent shortages. In the era of lifetime employment, from the end of World War II through the 1970s, corporations filled roughly 90% of their vacancies through promotions and lateral assignments. Today the figure is a third or less. Only 28%of talent acquisition leaders today say internal candidates are a primary source of people . Outsourcing– Pushing ‘the problem’ of getting jobs done by outsourcing processes remains a viable alternative to organizations, particularly when the process generates little or no customer value. In 2019, the global outsourcing market grew to 92.5 billion U.S. dollars, up from 76.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2016—up **17%**over three years. Outsourcing companies are leveraging cloud computing, robotic process automation and their affordable offshore IT talent pools to fulfil work that businesses struggle to perform with their own resources at lower costs. Exploring alternative routes to getting work done– Perhaps the biggest change in the talent management industry as an alternative to filling vacancies is to automate solutions using chat-bots, other forms of software robot that mimic human activities (like ‘swivel chair’ applications where data is passed manually between two systems), and artificial intelligence applications that may be machine-to-machine (zero-UI) data interchange processes or machine learning solutions.

Direct Sourcing
How Direct Sourcing is Reshaping The Discipline of Talent Sourcing

Leveraging brand reach and internal recruiting investments to source talent direct becomes simpler when companies can adopt total talent management technology portals. This new form of software connects companies to their social media outlets, job boards and sometimes their alumni and legacy pool of applicants for previous jobs. Organizations often complain about how difficult it is to get good people these days. And there are facts to back this up.

2019 research from Korn Ferry Institute finds that the global talent shortage could reach over 85 million people, costing companies trillions of dollars in lost opportunity. The USA is predicted to be hit the hardest by talent deficit, which will cost the country $435.7 billion in lost revenue, or **1.5%**of the whole US economy.

Although finding talent might not be that easy, surprising few have taken steps to fully leverage talent within their reach. Think about the massive influence social media, particularly platforms like LinkedIn, has had on the recruitment industry; the number of companies that promote their interest in good talent on their company LinkedIn and Facebook pages. These platforms are ALWAYS ON.

Direct Sourcing describes the activity of harvesting the talent pool formed by their internal recruiting activities and brand reach to source gig workers. This talent pool might include individuals who’ve approached an organization through its social media presence, former employees, retirees or applications within the company’s own applicant tracking system.

It offers organizations benefits as a mechanism to source talent:

  • Reduce recruitment agency costs– Going direct for talent means you don’t have to pay agencies to find the best-fit talent you need.
  • Boost productivity and retention by employing people invested in your enterprise– Access individuals who’ve worked for you (or in a partner business perhaps) in the past, who are already interested in your brand and its values, or have previously invested time in approaching you for a previous role or position. These individuals are likely to be more motivated to work for you (boosting productivity) and WANT to work for your enterprise (reducing attrition).
  • Speed time-to-fill– We’re talking about a pool of candidates you already know about, or are just one message away from wanting to apply for your next role! That means you don’t have to wait for indirect partners to run around and find candidates for you. Use of direct sourcing is demonstrating its value in consistently reducing time-to-fill of vacant roles.
  • Decrease risk (with pre-vetting)– For people your organization already knows, you can make a hiring decision with the confidence that someone in your business already knows (and can potentially vouch for) the individual you are considering hiring. They may even have a track-record of previous work performed for your organization. For individuals applying via social media or taking an interest in your business, there’s always the opportunity to pre-vet your talent pool—so you know that any of the available talent is already one step closer to joining your business because they’ve already cleared the hurdle of background checks.
  • Increase recruiting efficiency– Adoption of direct sourcing means the cost of recruitments goes down. Much of the work has already been done by self-service tools your candidates have done themselves in their own time. It’s also possible to integrate video interviews into your direct sourcing portal so that you already have a video testimonial of prospective candidates.
Direct Sourcing ‘First’ Policy: Changing Talent Sourcing Behaviors

One of the greatest challenges facing the recruiting industry at present is changing attitudes and behaviors around work packaging and resourcing. Decisions relating to the allocation and sourcing of work are normally so fragmented between IT, procurement functions. Another issue is the segregation of full-time recruitment functions, indirect contingent staffing vendor management, procurement programs to source consultants and outsourcing; and IT teams responsible for automation (including the provisioning of robots that can be used to fulfil tasks instead of humans). In the case of adoption, it works better when departmental managers are encouraged to adopt a ‘direct sourcing first’ policy. A Total Talent Management Portal streamlines the adoption of direct sourcing as part of your talent sourcing mix and maximize the potential of this approach by installing a ‘ direct sourcefirst’ agenda, EVEN WHEN hiring managers fail to register its importance in their requests. Use of artificial intelligence helps to broadcast opportunities to appropriate job boards and social media sites and this will further propagate demand and build the size of your addressable the talent pool.

Gig Economy Apps

From Job Boards to Micro-Job Portals – Technology is enabling organizations to find their talent in new ways. You might well ask—‘**What type of technology ecosystem are organizations using to embrace the gig economy?  And is it better to source their tech platform through a third-party Recruitment Process Outsourcer or Managed Service Provider?’ There are some obvious features that total talent management Systems need to offer if they are to be useful and offer organizations the competitive advantage they seek. Here are some highlights.

  • Resourcing Triage and SOW Contract Design
  • Job Category Taxonomy Design
  • Market Insights / Rate Cards
  • Direct Sourcing through online job boards and (task) ‘gig’ boards
  • Indirect Sourcing through Vendors
  • Automation of Manual Recruitment Tasks
  • Use of AI and Online Testing to Filter and Validate Candidates
  • Recruitment Bias Avoidance
  • Compliance and Regulatory Governance
  • Purchase-to-Pay Integration
  • Key Trackers



Identifying Talent

Identifying internal talent
A short-fall in workforce insights

While there are always vacancies to fill, most organizations are unable to realize the potential of the people they already employ. The challenge companies face is they recruit people to perform job roles. When individuals are appointed, any track-record of experience and past-times not directly associated with the job they perform is generally expunged. Few organizations operate an information management application to harvest skills from CVs, _or_the work record of individuals once employed. This shortage of insight on the capabilities of individuals means that HR teams can only hope that internal applicants for roles will raise their hand at the right time and ‘make themselves available’ to work they might be willing to perform.

Weak appraisal systems

Appraisal systems have taken a battering in the past five years and have been recognised by leading employers like Google, Microsoft, Dell, KPMG and Accenture as not being fit for purpose. While annual appraisals might not be perfect, they do provide a mechanism to bring employers and the employed together for a moment to review performance, aspirations, challenges and training needs. Unfortunately, weak appraisal systems fail to pick up the qualities of individual workers, while equally failing to prompt vocational training discussions.

The absence of life-long learning and workforce development

Most employers play lip service to the continuous development of their people. Indeed, investments into vocational training are in decline. According to a report by the U.S. Training Industry, total U.S. training expenditures—including payroll and spending on external products and services—declined 6.4 percent to $87.6 billion. Reluctance to invest in workforce training comes partly down to cost factors but also because the changing dynamics of the job market (i.e. lower retention rates) raises concerns to managers as to whether their business will ultimately benefit from investments made into their people. This door ‘swings both ways’ unfortunately, so companies that don’t invest in their people encourage attrition.

Structural issues that limit workforce optimization

Another constraint to identifying the best talent is the existence of organizational hierarchies that effectively ‘trap’ the skills of individuals behind the veil of a job role and description. Few organisations have mastered project-based organisational hierarchies and matrix management methods that expose the potential of individuals as the best-fit for a role based on their qualities.

Identifying external talent
Social media platforms as an enabler to talent identification

Platforms like LinkedIn have become cornerstones of social marketing profiles of companies promoting their values, cultures and most importantly their jobs. Companies are now able to leverage their social presence to attract talent that might be interested in working for them. Within the scope of direct sourcing, companies are using social platforms to profile individuals with a common interest and the required skills to perform roles for them. They can also offer interested individuals the opportunity to ‘pre-test’ and ‘pre-vet’ for roles putting them ahead in the queue for any future roles. The extent to which individuals are prepared to invest their time into pre-vetting and testing will of course be driven by their desire to work for any given employer. This means businesses have to be most effective at selling their brand story, their purpose and values.

Federated platforms as a source of niche talent

Companies like Adobe know that the people using their tools and resources are creatives. They also know that, with such a large community of individuals with a common interest or passion, they become an obvious source of talent for companies looking for those skills (hence Adobe’s recent acquisition of Behance). For this reason, any organization with a membership or customer audience focused around a particular skill becomes a federated repository of talent for organizations to harvest if appropriate search and engagement tools are provided to create the ‘seeker and solver’ market that’s needed. We can expect more of these federated platforms emerge over time as organizations seek to realize the asset value of their online audience.

The role of AI in harvesting talent

We cover this in the technology section of this guide but artificial intelligence has a promising future in helping organizations to expose talent. Above all, AI can learn to fine-tune talent search for those businesses able to harvest data in a granular format from CV’s, project experience, and social media (etc.) to build a rich picture of what individuals are capable of. 




Mature the skills and capabilities of the workforce

Learning and development programs for vocational training are the obvious mechanism to improve the capabilities of workers in a workforce. In addition to its role in developing core job skills, vocational learning is seen to deliver a host of benefits for employers:

  • Reduces risk of disease to minimize sick days and early retirements– There are chemical reactions in the brain associated with learning new information. Brain activity is stimulated when you learn something new. The more the brain is stimulated, the slower it develops diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Encourages good mental health to aid productivity– Learning affects the state of your mood and emotions for the better Increased creativity to help individuals problem solve more effectively and contribute to workshops **- Learning increases creativity and imagination. Learning new things allows you to let go of stagnate thoughts and ideas and embrace new perspectives.
  • Grows self-esteem – Learning is proven as a great way to boost personal self-esteem
  • Makes workers feel energized– Learning can make you more energetic. As with your native creativity and imagination, there is often a physiological response to new and exciting things. You may get that “butterflies in the stomach” feeling. You’re mind is working at a higher levels and you will become more active in order to get things done associated with that new activity or while digesting intriguing information.
  • Reduces job boredom and increases potential for succession – The more time people spend learning new things, the more they get out of life. Makes people more rounded and happier in their lives – Learning can make people more successful. Taking time to learn new things can pave the road to future successes.
Learning and development for an on-demand workforce

A focus on vocational training and internal learning and development programmes pre-supposes that the majority of your talent is employed. We can expect, in future, that the majority of individuals in the workforce will be freelancers, or contractors employed by agencies. This places more obligation on the individual, and their agents, to take responsibility for their continuous development and invest in their own training. One of the benefits of being a freelancer or contractor is that individuals have the opportunity to specialize more in their chosen discipline. They also get more opportunities to practise their activity. It only takes to read the CV of an experienced IT contractor to see how quickly individuals build up a rich history of work placements. This focus on a ‘skill’ rather than a ‘role’ means that organizations are able to fragment their work tasks into a more granular series of work packages that a ‘specialist’ can be employed to deliver. Project fulfilment becomes a centralized resourcing plan that governs the operations of a loosely-coupled group of individuals, probably working through an online micro-task portal through which they sell, manage and bill for their work. Already, through platforms like Upwork and Simplify-TTM we are seeing early examples of this technology.


Create an engaged workforce that’s motivated to work

There is a substantial body of evidence to suggest that the level of engagement of a workforce is a useful measure of their likelihood to maximize productivity and not leave their role. The level of workforce engagement is closely coupled with the mental health of individuals and their wellbeing; often defined as ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.’ Factors that influence engagement– Modern engagement strategies blend common sense approaches to improve the work-life experience of workers, with a focus on good mental and physical health. Common initiatives to improve engagement include:

  • Having a clear organizational cause, purpose and set of values that employers can buy into, that goes beyond an ambition to make money – so work means more than ‘employment’
  • Demonstrating leadership and including the workforce in strategic decision-making
  • Encouraging flexibility in balancing working in an office and at home
  • Promoting the idea of taking breaks, breaking the long-hours work culture, and doing regular exercise
  • Clarifying worker motivations and goal through a continuous (coach-oriented) appraisal approach
  • Encouraging life-long learning and recognizing its secondary mental health and motivational benefits
  • Holding regular ‘town halls’ and social gatherings
  • Providing a nice workplace environment

Respecting diversity– Another major battleground for workforce engagement is the management of stress in the workforce. According to the latest Willis Towers Watson U.S. Employer Survey, stress results in as much as $300 billion in lost productivity, and some 1,000,000 employees miss work each day because of it. From centralized to distributed accountability– For almost three decades, the issue of managing the wellbeing of staff has been held by centralized Human Resources (lately ‘Human Capital Management’) practitioners. Many of the initiatives, like staff surveys, performance reviews and appraisals, were arranged as once a year events because this was the only practical way that hard-pressed HR teams could resource the activity. It was also perhaps, partly down to the convenient of executives: Annual HR activities meant they only had to think about the happiness of their workforce, and demands for training once a year.

Gartner reports that by 2022, they expect **over 30%**of organizations will abandon one-size-fits-all performance management approaches in favor of centralized programs that support, mentor and nurture workforce wellbeing through managers.

Strategies to improve wellbeing and engagement– Along with this transition from centralized to distributed programs has come a shift in the role expectations of managers. Embracing this shift, organizations have revised their expectation of managers, away from the ‘command and control supervisor’ to the ‘networked team leader and coach.’ In a sense, this means middle-managers have been somewhat downgraded from being seen as part of the management elite, to being ‘super-team-leaders’ that are no longer expected to tow the company line or side with the companies interests during team meetings. In support of this transition in the role of managers, from supervisors to coaches, the majority of organizations are adopting a three spoke strategy to improve workforce retention, comprised of:

  1. Understanding– Using mechanisms like personality/team profiling, social graphs and voice of the employee surveys to identify traits and cultural norms.
  2. Recognizing– Applying social recognition, tangible rewards, compensation and career development levers to recognize and encourage high performance.
  3. Coaching– Adopting coaching strategies including one-to-one coaching, advisor tools and goal setting through use of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).

Innovation in wellbeing management– Innovation in the way organizations ‘manage’ the wellbeing of their workforce is in transition. In its latest report on the subject titled ‘Get Ready for the Convergence of Employee Performance and Engagement,’ Gartner suggests, ‘The performance and engagement applications market is in transition. Human Capital Management (HCM) and talent suite vendors are modifying or augmenting existing processes, engagement platforms have emerged and niche vendors are providing targeted solutions.’


Maintaining access to the best people

The root cause of most hiring is poor retention. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data evidence that **95%**of hiring activity is done to fill existing positions. Rather than address the foundation reasons for poor retention—things such as engagement, happiness, training, inclusion in decisions and career progression—HR leaders can become snow-blind by tech tools, employee research and the measurement of “flight risk”.

Is it worth retaining talent?

One of the bigger questions facing HR leaders is whether it makes sense to aspire to retain workers anymore. Another argument being introduced presently is the case for recognizing that the state of completion in markets dictates that companies adopt on-demand workforce strategies; where most of the work is performed by contractors or via task portals. With today’s workforce being built of a significant proportion of disconnected workers, albeit with the right skills and talents to get the work done, perhaps we’ve reached the pivot-point when it becomes impractical, if not commercially undesirable, to put energy into retaining the best talent as full-time employees.

Retaining the long-tail of talent

All companies today have the opportunity to market their cause, purpose, values and vacancies online. Using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, it’s possible for companies to grow a following of individuals that would want to work for them given the choice. This long-tail of talent is perhaps a more important group to retain as an enthusiastic group of workers. Whilst they may not be employed by an organization full-time, they represent an addressable and willing workforce as-and-when needed, without the high expectations employees have ‘to be looked after’ when employed on full-time contracts.

Throwing in the towel on retention and succession planning

In an era transitioning towards and on-demand workforce, we see examples of companies ‘giving up’ on the ideas of retention and internal succession planning, instead placing more focus on the cultivation of an accessible talent pool beyond the enterprise.


Allocate work to resources

Matching workers to jobs has become more complicated in an era when jobs can be performed by both machines and humans. Automation plays a major part in getting work done. Federated knowledge management and crowdsourcing platforms are also influencing how managers think about getting their work done.

Re-thinking the Resourcing of Work at Departmental Level

Most work allocation happens at a departmental level within an organization and it’s important therefore to re-educate departmental managers on the viability of the various ways of getting a job done; equipping them with the encouragement and knowledge to question ‘norms of behavior’ that may not be in the best interests of the organization (or the payroll budget!).

Ask most senior executives today, and most believe that the majority of their work activities are performed by full-time employees. In reality, an increasing amount of jobs are being fulfilled by machines (computers, software robots, algorithms, chatbots etc.) and a significant proportion of remaining work tasks are fulfilled by outsourcing firms and members of the gig economy. Knowledge management portals and crowdsourcing platforms also win their fair share of work.

Spoilt for choice on delivery options

When jobs need to be performed, department heads have more options to consider. This is causing HR and recruitment professionals to encourage a joined-up ‘for this,approach to sourcing work, starting with a thoughtful triage approach that questions hiring norms of behavior that may be founded on ignorance, or the outmoded belief that hiring someone on a full-time contract is always the best solution.

The Triage Manager

A popular approach is to appoint someone in the business into the role of a triage expert. Their duties are to examine each automation and consider which vehicle represents the best way of fulfilling the activity. The common choices are to:

  • Modify the business model or process to remove the need for the activity Automate the process or process step using software robots, machine-to-machine algorithms or machine-learning/AI Employ someone on a full-time contract Outsource the process activity or complete process Procure resources (typically contingent or freelance workers) either by offering out micro-task work packages, statement-of-work project tasks, complete (end-to-end) projects or roles in a team to fulfil a project.
New Ways of Packaging Work

We’re all accustomed to identifying work that needs to be done and hiring someone on a full-time contract to do it. But work packages can be broken down in more ways than one, and approaches fashioned by victorian-era industrialists into hierarchical organizational designs might not be the most appropriate for the digital era! As time moves forward, we’re seeing work packages becoming more fragmented into smaller and smaller packages. Consider:

Job Role Descriptions

Aggregating a series of ‘work to be done’ activities into a job role description is the most common way people have traditionally been hired. The benefit of this is the hiring manager is able to flex the activities within the scope of the role, and it gives the employee an indication of what’s expected of them. They might be the most common form of work packaging format but job role descriptions have a downside.  More often than not, such contracts include a broad sub-point that says something like—_‘and any other duties your manager may ask you to perform to assist in the achievement of departmental objectives.’_These catch-all statements mean that many professionals find they’re asked to discharge tasks that fall outside of the bounds of their subject-matter expertise and beyond the activities they enjoy fulfilling. Job Descriptions can:

  • Shroud the fullest capabilities of individuals– You can be sure that when someone applies to be an Accounts Payable Clerk, that’s not the only thing they’ve done in their life, or the only experience and skill they have. Much of the potential of a workforce gets lost in multi-layered hierarchical management structures and job descriptions that mean talent is bound tightly to departmental needs; prevented from being leveraged by the rest of the organization.
  • Distort recruitments– Recruitments focus on finding individuals with the broad skills-set required to fulfil the combination of work built into the ’work package’ as interpreted by the hiring manager. But hiring managers are not organizational designers. This interpretation of work package might not best serve the organization.
  • Blur contributor performance– because it’s not clear how contributors are fulfilling their time, and how well they’re being managed.
Discipline or Activity-Oriented Hiring Briefs

When hiring managers look to hire temp or contingent workers, they will focus contractual requirements (yes, in the form of a job description) more on the fulfilment of a specific discipline or activity, less on ‘and everything else’ departmental needs. This makes it easier for the company, hiring manager and contractor to measure their performance. It also means the contractor is able to focus on the type of work they like and want to do, not end up a dogs body for a department manager trying to make ‘department budget’ ends meet.


A statement of work contract allows a hiring manager to articulate work packages based on project milestones and outcomes. Aligning contractor payment rewards with project outcomes makes a lot of sense. It means workers are incentivised to deliver outcomes, not just turn up.

Work Tasks

In the gig economy, one of the fastest growing forms of work packages are work tasks. These are normally published on a marketplace portal of tasks that contractors can bid for. This means departmental managers can segment work into tiny ‘micro jobs ‘ packages and pay for results—think of it as a microscopic version of a statement of work! Of course, robots are getting much faster at working through tasks than humans. We can therefore expect more and more work to be distilled into tiny ‘noughts and ones’ tasks in the future, with robots fulfilling more of them than humans!

Risk Manage

Protect to enterprise from workforce and employment risks

Asking anyone to work on a job of any kind introduces risks. In a tightly regulated work environment, the business risks of non compliance—as the result of information privacy breaches, sexual discrimination infringements and data loss—are ever present. Old threats too, like petty theft and fraud, continue to make their mark. Use of freelancers and contractors, who may be self-employed or working through a separate employer of record, increase risk of co-employment fines when firms treat these workers as one of their own employees. Balancing these risks across a workforce made up of a mix of full-time employees, online portals, robots and contingent workers is becoming a major challenge for businesses.

Improve the Workforce

No HR leader would openly accept a strategy for talent management that did not include a plan to continuously improve. Yet, the ability of HR teams to learn from their successes and mistakes remains hampered by poor insights and fragmented information systems. While Human Resource Management (HRM) systems have been around for years, they have singularly failed to capture the broad gamut of workforce operations in a form that has enabled HR leaders to determine clear (and data-drive) improvement strategies.

Most HR leaders would accept that initiatives to improve operations are generally driven by a blend of instinct and feedback from managers and employee satisfaction surveys, not from back-office operational systems that drive daily operations.

The influence of an on-demand workforce

The increased use of gig workers, freelancers and contractors in the workforce means that improvement strategies now need to capture their insights from a broader set of data points and be interpreted in a different way. The starting point for workforce improvement becomes a re-assessment of ‘what the workforce is today’ and the role of full-time employees within it.

Based on a crude measure of ‘productivity’, it could be argued that the role of determining job delivery performance should perhaps move out of the HR department and be the oversight responsibility of a WORK FULFILMENT or IMPROVEMENT department, able to access both human and robotic options to get work discharged. This is where companies are banking on new-age talent acquisition software.

Blending fulfilment options

It could be argued that the future of workforce improvement is more about getting the blend right between the various mechanisms of work fulfilment rather than a hope to make minor improvements to the performance of any single work delivery vehicle. Appreciating which approach to work fulfilment works best to get a job done, might just be the future of workforce planning.




How businesses gather feedback from people leaving to learn how to improve and mitigate risks

Reviewing the performance of talent used by an organization is generally focused at the point of exit. When individuals are ‘off-boarded’ (i.e. they leave their job role or exit their contract), most firms will consider this an ideal opportunity to review how well their organization is working to maximize the potential of individuals.  The quality of these appraisals varies significantly. Some exit interviews are focused on the performance of the individual and their achievement of contractual obligations. This narrow focus can hamper any attempts to make structural improvement to programs. Thoughtful review programs are now coming of age that take the opportunity of exit interviews to explore a broader gamut of subjects. Initiatives to improve the quality of exit interviews include:

  • Having a third party conduct interviews, targeted on producing a broader set of pre-determined actionable insight
  • Gathering peer feedback to tell the whole story, and not just relying on the testimony of the individual contractor or worker
  • Gathering feedback before individuals decide to leave or reach the end of their contract, to build up a picture of their experience before the impact of leaving (and its influence on moral, expectations etc.) has hit home
  • Using linkage analysis between turnover and factors influencing engagement
  • Using aggregate turnover analysis to understand trends, taking a wider read of turnover patterns

The role of technology in the review processTechnology can lend a major hand to businesses in helping them to build up a richer picture of the performance of their talent management approach and how to improve it. Examples include:

  • Regular hosted self-completion online hosted surveys
  • Use of talent portals to capture day-to-day work patterns and behaviors (such as the analysis of email and social messaging traffic patterns to build up a picture of which individuals in social groups are the ‘go-to’ people)
  • The application of artificial intelligence to learn from patterns of behavior and trending data to recommend succession plans, make job loading suggestions, allocate work and predict shortfalls and bottlenecks of performance.



Talent Management in the fourth industrial revolution

I started this paper by referring the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we live and work. Like all operational disciplines, talent management cannot help but be changed by the onslaught of these new digital technologies. 4IR is changing the way we think about the make-up of the workforce, what ‘a job’ is, how jobs are defined, and resourced.  What we know is that many of the new organizational designs, technology systems, process models and operating behaviors needed to make talent management work in the 4IR world have yet to be invented. Those that do exist are yet to be fully mastered by leading edge ‘lighthouse’ organizations. In response to this market change:

  • Organizations have to re-visit their workforce paradigm as the result of 4IR. They need to question how they make decisions on the way jobs are defined, how they are fulfilled, and most importantly, whether the work is bringing value to customers or not. Processes that fail to yield customer value will also fail the litmus test for being something an organization should perform itself using its own people and technology.
  • To gain a competitive advantage, organizations have to re-wire their organizational designs, decision making processes, and technology tools. Industry leaders will ultimately be the first to succeed in adopting a talent on-demand ethos driven by the resources of the gig economy and underpinned by modern Total Talent Management portals that offer the unifying ecosystem essential to success.

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