Total Talent – What It Should Mean

There’s a phrase that is growing in popularity: Total Talent Management. I’m struggling to find a good definition for it truth be told, I’m not sure that I even like the phrase. But it’s here and people are using it, so the team here at Adepto would like to constructively contribute to its growth and evolution.

Organisations are challenged today by how to attract, engage and manage people who never become their ‘official’ or full-time employees (e.g. contractors). For this kind of talent, when they are not actually on site during a job, you only have sporadic connection with them, and no integration with the rest of your team and planning. As most businesses go through the change of increasingly using a blended workforce made of casual, part time and contract workers, the challenge is that your HR and enterprise systems were not built to manage such contractors. Instead, they were primarily designed for full time staff who are by comparison, making up less and less of your team. The next effect is pain and frustration as your ability to manage and value these contingent workers is incredibly difficult.

So – If you are a business that says, “we love our people – they are our best asset”, AND you really mean it – then I would challenge you to ask: “how user-friendly are our systems for them?”. If you take the time to have a good think about this, and I mean really imagine what it is like to live the life of the contractor/contingent worker then you will probably realize that not only your systems but a whole bunch of experiences are less then desirable (terrible) for all but your full-time workers (and even that may be a big stretch).

For example, let’s consider the life a young female engineer. Let’s imagine her experience from the start: She leaves university and does a placement, falls in love with your company and applies for a role. Not successful the first time, she finds work at another firm but decides your brand is still worth fighting for and tries again. She is eventually successful in gaining employment after her third attempt, going through the whole process of improving and then proving her talent each time. At this point you should ask the question: Why is the organisation advertising and collecting the entirety of her information again and again? Moreover, why would a business who has such appeal make its committed candidates repeatedly submit their wares over and over? Now, fast forward. This engineer takes maternity leave and after 5 years decides to return part time. By this time new managers are in place making it obvious that there is no true corporate memory of her total talent. While not coming in at the bottom, there is certainly an experience of having to ‘start again’. 

So, what can be done?  How can an organisation put this person in the ‘middle’ of their professional world? While we are at it, how do we embrace and put ALL the people – including current, past, part time …and potentially future employees in the middle? ‘Total Talent Management’ (TTM) is the term used by some who are looking at this. While the term has become the industry “buzzword”, the meaning that many give to it continues to come from the organisations perspective, putting its management needs ahead of the people they claim to love.

At Adepto we like to think of this definition in a different way because the meaning is so important as we move to a new world of working. The way many define it now really isn’t welcoming to that returning mother and so many others. To innovative workers who wish to be employed in new ways, total talent needs to encapsulate everyone and treat them equally, in the centre and not segmented based on how an organization pays their salary. I am positive we need something that balances the needs of the organisation and the individual.  Systems and processes that are less biased in favour of the organisation and instead focused on building a talent partnership and valuing the individual and their network.  This is a concept that I firmly believe in.

Trends show that most people will have 7 or 8 careers in their lifetime – and work at two to three organisations per career. This adds up to around 20 email addresses, 20 HR profiles, 20 logins, etc., etc.  Over that time, this represents a ridiculous burden of repetitive data collection and maintenance. Many organisations sadly would say this is fine, but user-centred design says it’s a mess and is valuing the process over the person.

I spend a large part of every day talking to customers about their challenges and many tell me that what they need is to simplify HR and talent acquisition to hire permanent and contract workers together and need a one stop shop to enable their Total Talent strategy. Adepto is the only solution that already includes internal workers in our definition of Total Talent and our platform enables organisations to reach their goals quickly and simply. My personal goal and part of why I helped to create Adepto is to bring more humanity back. Total Talent is indeed the future and putting people at the centre is the only way to create an agile workforce that is ready, on-demand to tackle an organisations biggest business challenges.

Michael Derwin, COO and Executive Vice President, APAC