Talent management should include the blended workforce

Analysis

Talent management should include the blended workforce

Rapid changes in organisation structures, workforce composition and communication methods are providing big challenges for talent management strategies. In particular, an increasingly diverse workforce means that ‘talent pools’ are becoming harder to manage

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Rapid changes in organisation structures, workforce composition and communication methods are providing big challenges for talent management strategies. In particular, an increasingly diverse workforce means that ‘talent pools’ are becoming harder to manage, according to a presenter at the 2013 Agile Talent Management Conference, conducted by Australasian Talent Conference in Sydney on 29 and 30 May 2013.
 
The changing global context
 
Kelly Quirk, CEO of Harrier Human Capital, described people as ‘the second-highest commodity spend by organisations’. Major changes that have affected the workforce include:
    • There are four different generations now in the workforce, with the age span exceeding 50 years.
    • Economic cycles are becoming shorter.
    • The 10 types of jobs currently most in demand did not exist a decade ago.
    • Job turnover is increasing. The average person changes jobs about every 18 months and will have held 14 jobs by age 38. The average attrition rate is about 27 per cent.
    • Cost of labour in Australia is more than 50 per cent higher than the average in Europe and the United States.
    • Almost 30 per cent of the workforce can be described as contingent workers. In some industries, such as mining and construction, it is about 60 per cent.
    • About 70 per cent of the entire world population now owns a mobile communication device, and about 15 per cent are active users of Facebook.
This all adds up to a vastly different and constantly changing talent pool.
 
Problems with traditional talent management methods
 
Quirk said that most businesses are lagging behind with adapting to the above changes. Silo mentality often prevails over collaboration (‘procurement’, ‘marketing’, etc). Contingent workers tend to be used as a stopgap measure, when they should be included in workforce planning as part of a more holistic approach. Many of them simply do not want permanent jobs for various reasons (eg lifestyle).
 
As an example of failure to cope, Quirk claimed that some employers are over-reliant on employing people under 457 visas or Enterprise Migration Agreements (although to be fair, only 0.7 per cent of the workforce is employed on 457 visas). She claimed that they often resort to these arrangements because of inadequate workforce planning.
 
Other issues that may arise with non-permanent employees include:
    • Employers are often unaware of the immigration status and/or right to work of employees.
    • One survey showed that almost half of all contingent workers are wrongly classified for tax purposes, resulting in fines for employers.
    • The recent changes to workplace health and safety legislation means that employers are responsible for all types of workers, but some types are difficult to maintain control over.
    • Actions by workers who are not permanent employees can affect the employer’s brand and reputation, but again this can be difficult to control.
    • A strategy to manage all types of workers and include them in planning processes is therefore required.
Tips for developing a holistic strategy
 
Quirk recommended a collaborative approach, and offered the following advice:
    • Engage simultaneously with all the business groups involved with managing people.
    • Form a separate project team so that talent management is not overlooked or squeezed out by the daily ‘business as usual’ pressures.
    • Pick key projects in order to build a business case. Gain credibility first, instead of attempting the ‘big bang’ approach. Too much, too soon, is a common talent management error.
    • Identify talent management champions and use them.
    • Align talent management goals with both current and future business strategies.
    • Total costs must be highly visible and include everything, to maintain credibility.
    • Tailor the use of communication media to suit the preferences of each generation of workers.
    • Use technology as an enabler, but not the solution. Data should be used to drive changes, not just collected for its own sake.
    • Continually monitor workforce demographics, because the employment value proposition will change as they change.
    • Don’t just adopt a presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc, because it is fashionable. Analyse what you want to achieve first and evaluate the potential return on investment.
Summary
 
Quirk claimed that the benefits of a holistic talent management strategy include increased quality of hire, reduced cost and time of hire, improved internal mobility and flexibility, improved diversity, better control over compliance issues and greater ability to supplement a stable core permanent team.
 
Further information
 
More information about the conference is available from Australasian Talent Conference.
 
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