Total workforce solutions are a growing trend for organizations grappling with the changing talent landscape. A total workforce solution provides a central view and way to manage all talent at an organization – both employees and contingent workers, including independent contractors, freelancers and statement of work (SOW) workers.
What is a Total Workforce Solution?
Under a total workforce solution, both talent acquisition and workforce management come together. The most complex issue when transitioning to a total workforce solution is determining where decisions will be made regarding full-time, part-time employees and contingent workers. In many organizations, those decisions have traditionally been made by different parts of the business.
Reconciling the decision-making and budgeting process to one central decision point with many inputs is essential in creating a successful, holistic talent program. A centralized decision-making process is also critical in ensuring that hiring managers receive guidance on determining the best way to fill a role – with either permanent or contingent workers.
Therefore, implementing a total workforce solution is a complicated and long-term project that needs to be continually evaluated. It’s best to think of total workforce as an evolution. In this blog post, we will cover the drivers for and benefits of total workforce and what to look for in a total workforce solutions partner.
Drivers of the Total Workforce Evolution
There are several factors driving the total workforce evolution. Currently, the growth of total workforce is primarily in the U.S. and Canada due to favorable labor laws and economic conditions. The following drivers combine to create a competitive environment, one where employers need to be able to attract and hire the best talent regardless of whether the worker is a permanent employee or a contingent worker.
The U.S. has seen years of economic growth that has resulted in low unemployment. The unemployment rate has hovered near or below 4 percent for about a year which creates more competition for talent. Organizations need to find creative ways to attract and retain talent in this economic climate, including optimizing their balance of employees and contingent workers.
Generational shifts and the gig economy
Baby boomers, who were for years the largest generation in the workforce, are starting to retire. Now, millennials make up more than one-third of all workers. This divide and the shortage of experienced workers is especially visible in the healthcare industry.
The generational shift had another impact – the rise of the gig economy. As the number of millennials in the workforce ballooned, contingent work also grew in popularity. A Staffing Industry Analysts study estimates that about 44 million Americans, or about 29 percent of the U.S. workforce, has taken part in the gig economy. The study reports that many chose contingent work for greater flexibility or higher wages. Organizations need to adapt quickly to this generational shift and the growing popularity of this type of work to find and attract talent in a way that reflects the way that talent wants to work. Understanding the mix of full-time and contingent workers across different departments is a good place to start.
Evaluating your workforce mix will allow you to begin to plan for how to find and deploy top talent. It’s also critical to remember that as the workforce evolves, your strategy must evolve with it to stay competitive.
Automation is changing the way we work. Currently, organizations are facing a shortage of candidates with the skills of the future. To overcome these challenges, organizations are implementing innovative solutions including reskilling. Employers are turning to total workforce solutions, so they can adapt more quickly to changes. In a total workforce solution, decision making is centralized and based on how to best secure the talent which enables increased agility and helps stakeholders see the benefit of making strategic decisions about how their workforce is procured.
A desire for greater insight to the total talent picture
Leaders are looking for a better view of the entire talent picture. By looking at permanent employees and contingent workers together, organizations can create a coherent strategy that takes into account the pressures of low unemployment, generational shifts and talent shortages and adapt more quickly.
Benefits of a Total Workforce Solution
A well-managed total workforce solution should drive increased cost savings compared to MSP and RPO programs operating separately. An integrated program simplifies the management, reporting and recruiting resources – reducing costs and increasing effectiveness. Through a TWS, organizations can find savings opportunities by making more strategic decisions about how to use their labor.
A full view of the entire workforce
A total workforce strategy provides companies with a broad view of the workforce, across different labor classifications and departments. That level of visibility allows organizations to gain consolidated intelligence into their workforces and helps them evolve in the competitive talent landscape. A total workforce solution provides enhanced metrics across the entire workforce—including time-to-fill, hiring manager satisfaction, candidate satisfaction, performance and cost metrics. This enables leaders to make informed, strategic business decisions, setting the organization up for success.
Centralized decision making
A total workforce solution centralizes decision making by ensuring the right mix of both permanent employees and contingent workers. A centralized decision-making process helps programs run more effectively by identifying whether a role should be temporary, permanent, short-term or long-term as soon as a need is identified.
A total workforce solution provides increased agility as organizations can see the trends impacting their workforce earlier and respond to them more quickly. A total workforce talent approach combines talent acquisition and workforce management, so strategic initiatives can be more easily implemented from the top down. Under a traditional, siloed approach, leaders have a more difficult time spotting these trends because they are only looking at a portion of the workforce. Additionally, strategic initiatives require more buy-in and more complex implementation because they involve two separate parts of the business. As technology accelerates the rate of change in the way we work, agility is an increasingly important trait for businesses.
A unified employer brand
When permanent and contingent labor are managed together, it is easier for organizations to portray a cohesive employer brand. Rather than representing one image of the organization to contingent workers and another to full-time employees, a total workforce solution enables HR to develop an employer branding strategy that speaks to all workers. Employer branding is an important tool for organizations to attract top talent.
Greater ability to recruit talent regardless of worker type
These benefits combine to provide organizations with a greater ability to recruit talent regardless of worker type. With the full view of talent, leaders can see how different types of talent want to work and then designate the position as permanent or contingent to meet those worker expectations. Then, the unified employer brand speaks to all workers in the same way, so candidates get the same positive impression whether they are applying for a full-time job, looking for a contract position or working through a temp agency. As organizations deal with the skill shortage and competitive talent landscape, the ability to recruit both employers and contingent workers effectively is necessary.
Total Workforce Solutions in Practice
A smooth transition from a segmented talent strategy to a total workforce solution comes down to the fundamentals of change management – planning, communication and implementation. Seamless program implementation ensures business continuity throughout the process, from formulating objectives for the overall program to transitioning it to the team who will manage the program on a daily basis. Once a program is in place, a purposeful governance strategy ensures the program can adapt, scale and respond to changes that impact talent and staffing needs.
Learn more about what total workforce solutions looks like in practice, including finding the right technology solution in our next blog post.