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Building a Talent Strategy That Makes Sense: Total Talent Management

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Talent for project management, technical development, and creative problem-solving is more difficult to find than ever before. Fewer and fewer skilled professionals are opting for long-term, full-time employment, so traditional hiring practices cannot fill organizations’ personnel needs. But filling the talent gap with contingent workers brings its own risks and shortcomings. Only by adopting a total talent management program can companies put themselves in optimal position to locate, hire, manage, evaluate, and lock in the people who possess key abilities and knowledge.

Total talent management is an enterprise-wide process that works to solve talent needs. How the skills vacancy is filled – whether through additions to full-time staff, hiring freelancers, engaging independent contractors, or partnering with statement-of-work aggregators – is a function of best fit and company need, rather than prescribed policy. With this holistic approach, Human Resources and Procurement departments work together to produce the best solution to talent scarcity. Gone are the days when HR took responsibility for permanent employees and Procurement sourced and hired temporary workers. Under that system, personnel decisions were often made on an ad-hoc basis, aimed at filling slots quickly rather than strategically.

With total talent management, companies can blend the capabilities of their Human Resources and Procurement departments to analyze the strengths not only of candidates but also of the methods they can be brought on board. This cooperation also allows workers of all types to switch between classifications as their life situations and goals change. An experienced department manager can retire and be engaged as an independent consultant; a valuable freelance designer can be brought on staff to ensure their talents are available all the time.


Removing the restrictions and biases inherent in most contingent procurement and HR hiring processes frees organizations to combine talent, insights, and perspectives from diverse sources, leading to an impressive set of benefits:

  • Horses for Courses – Just as some racehorses prefer and run better over certain tracks, people within the same profession may achieve different results depending on their work environment. Companies with a total talent approach can slot the best performers into positions where they are most likely to succeed. With well-defined roles and tasks, you can build an all-star team of specialists for each project you undertake.
  • Flexibility – Availing your company of on-demand talent allows your full-time workforce to concentrate on ongoing initiatives. When a new opportunity arises or a time-sensitive project is greenlighted, freelancers can augment your staff. Outside talent can populate the new initiative team and/or fill in for in-house team members who are temporarily reassigned to the project.
  • Try Before You Buy – In today’s tight labor market, companies may be more inclined to hire full-time people with rare, specialized skills to ensure they are available and deployable when their expertise is required. That may be sound talent risk management, but hiring the wrong person can have far-reaching effects. Engaging promising talents in short-term projects allows your firm to observe and evaluate potential full-timers’ skill and cultural fit. These “test drives” remove uncertainties regarding potential new hires’ willingness to accept full-time employment and their ability to adjust to its rigors.
  • Engagement – Companies often find that when they adopt provisions for satisfying contingent workers, they open inroads into accommodating full-time employees, as well. In-house staff benefits from new compensation plans, motivational tools, alternative work schedules, and more. They may also begin thinking about becoming contingent workers themselves, allowing the company to add flexibility and retain institutional knowledge after they retire.
  • Insight – An exploration of the on-demand worker environment provides an opportunity to take stock of your entire workforce situation. Evaluate the depth and breadth of the skills available on your staff and “on call” within your talent pool. Collect data on the types of contingent labor you have used to perform each task and the results achieved. These insights can form the basis to make better-informed decisions regarding talent integration, diversity, demand management, and oversight.


Though increasing the use of non-staff workers will cut your labor costs in the short run, focusing on skills and task accomplishment will generate the greatest return on investment in the long-term by bringing talent security and greater productivity. The following checklist will ensure your total talent management focus remains where it should – on people and projects:

  • Align with Business Strategy – Move away from starting teams with in-house employees who “can” serve in specific roles and filling in the holes with outside talent. Instead of treating project assignments as singular transactions, consider all candidates for each spot on the project team, regardless of their worker type. Business success demands planning, production, and implementation teams comprised of players who can best accomplish the work, regardless of where they come from.
  • Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit – Building a holistic talent solution takes time and effort. To begin, focus resources where they will produce the greatest results. This could include the roles or tasks you need the most, skills that are in shortest supply, types of workers on which you spend the most money, etc. This approach sets up a pilot project that is most likely to succeed and serve as an incubator for best processes as you expand management control to other areas of workforce management.
  • Cash in on Early Success – Process visibility and spend control are among the first benefits successful total talent management brings. Tout the short-term victories achieved in the pilot program outlined above to help internal stakeholders realize the project’s importance and strategic goals.
  • Make Use of Technology – Vendor management systems, applicant tracking software, machine learning, and other sophisticated technologies can assist your HR and Procurement departments in driving continuous improvement. Information you collect internally and augment with third-party data can shed light on engagement costs, time to hire, as well as aiding in labor budgeting, forecasting, and scheduling.
  • Leverage Your Brand – Just as your brand projects image and values to customers, it also gives contingent workers clues to your viability as a client. Freelancers, like full-time workers, look at your company brand to learn about your corporate culture, competitive advantage, affinity for technology, appreciation for external talent, and more. A positive review can elevate your firm to “most favored” status among workers with critical skill sets.

Total workforce management represents a significant undertaking for even moderately sized companies. Rather than commit the money and management attention required to build and maintain a robust on-demand labor program, many firms opt to turn the enterprise over to a trusted managed service provider. Metasys already has built the infrastructure and dedicated team of professionals to support your workforce mission. We can ensure you have access to the critical talent you need to accomplish your vision. More importantly, we can advise on which type of worker is best equipped to perform the tasks that lead to greater productivity, creativity, and customer satisfaction.

We put our relationships with reputable, diverse talent providers coupled with industry know-how and omnichannel alignment to engineer scalable, automated processes that bring consistency, thoughtfulness, and data support to your labor decisions. Contact Metasys today to put our expertise to work for you.


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