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What’s the secret to a lean and diverse workforce? Total Talent Management

Total Talent Management sounds like an agency for variety acts - and in many ways, it is.

A theatrical impresario is not far off what a TTM-conscious manager needs to be, to keep a business lean, fit and effectively staffed.

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Posted On Jul 07, 2023 

Imagine a theatre with a team of permanent staff. It needs a stage manager to get shows running - along with lighting and sound crew. Meanwhile, front-of-house employees are selling tickets and ice cream and getting the audience safely in and out.

Off site is the marketing team, working remotely on the website, social media and mailshots. There will be volunteers and interns, as well as trainees.


Then there are the acts - who arrive, set up, perform, pack up and depart across a period of days, weeks or even hours. They, along with road crew, are a crucial pipeline of talented freelancers.


The manager of this theatre would need multiple levels of skill and experience, as well as the capacity to pivot between deploying permanent staff and those in the gig economy. Their goal would be to bring a highly diverse, flexible and nimble workforce together under a single cohesive company culture and set of values.


It’s a very clear goal for a theatre – the shared objective of staging a fantastic and successful show – but more nebulous in other businesses. Unless you have a dynamic strategy.


Enter, stage left, Total Talent Management.


What is Total Talent Management?


The concept of Total Talent Management (TTM) is not new – but the sharpening need for it is. The pandemic and its aftermath have propelled the world of work into using every facet of recruitment to keep the wheels on and the wagon rolling.


In 2022 48% of HR respondents to a Mercer global talent trends survey listed a ‘variable staffing model’ as an effective tool to cut costs.


Harvard Business Review listed 9 workplace trends for 2023 and its no 1 prediction was ‘quiet hiring’. HBR goes on to define this as all of the above, adding a reward structure of bonuses and sweeteners to keep a keen stand-by crew forever in the wings, This is TTM.


How can companies implement TTM?


Like most things these days, TTM can be accompanied and supported with technology. In 2021, software packages for global talent management were valued at $7.09 billion - a figure projected to rise to $17.66 billion by 2029.


But more important than cutting-edge tech is a holistic approach to managing workers. A major selling point of TTM is that it allows companies to create comprehensive skills maps which facilitate upskilling and reskilling and promote internal career mobility.

For TTM to work holistically, long-established HR silos need to be demolished, redesigned and rebuilt. For decades there has been a separation between recruitment of permanent staff and procurement of temporary workers. It might be tidier for the accounts department, but the disconnect between these two approaches is, at best, unhelpful when it comes to running a flexible, slick and motivated workforce.


How can businesses benefit?


A cornerstone of TTM is valuing all workers for their contribution, be it permanent and office-based, part-time, remote, casual or a short-term fixed contract. Troubleshooting the inequities which surface between workers on site and workers out of sight will be essential in order to carefully offset the drawbacks with the perks.


Keeping everyone happy, from the intern to the long-term career employee, is the key challenge because the flexible workforce is looking like the future. In LHH’s Global Workforce of the Future report, 29% of workers would consider a pay cut to work fewer or more flexible hours, while 59% are shifting or have already shifted into more flexible roles.


And adaptability should be high on an employer’s wish list, too. In the first two months of 2023, despite a hiring boom in 2021 and 2022, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo and Zoom between them laid off more than 121,000 employees. Sudden contractions of global markets and shockwaves in the banking world illustrate the need for firms to be deft and responsive in managing staff numbers.


So effective TTM means managing a tight core team of permanent workers and a fluctuating outer team of part-timers, contractors, freelancers - as well as engaging closely with a trusted recruitment agency as a backstop.

To return to the theatre analogy, if ticket sales are down one month and up the next, the hiring needs to flex - but in such a way that those key casual employees are still willing to show up when a sell-out show calls for a full crew.


TTM values go hand in hand with diversity, inclusion and sustainability, which, of course, should already be in place. The scenery will shift and the acts will come and go – but if every team member feels visible and connected, the show will go on.


Want to build great teams with diverse talent and create pathways for dynamic careers? Contact us to find out more about how LHH can support you in the planning and implementation of a meaningful total talent management strategy.