Due to the growing hybrid nature of the workforce – combining employees on the payroll, flex workers and self-employed – total workforce management (TWM) is more important than ever. Its integrated approach to recruitment, retention and talent management provides organisations a range of forward-looking benefits.

Over the past few years, a number of external developments have accelerated the advent of total workforce management. First, the acquisition, retention and deployment of the right talent has against a backdrop of a tightening labour market sparked a true war for talent. As such, organisations have to find new, creative ways to attract and retain talent at the right cost.
Second, the labour market is moving towards a ‘gig economy’, with a growing number of organisations tapping into the power of gig workers for temporary assignments or projects. And third, changing demands from professionals themselves means that career paths are now fluid, forcing companies to take a more strategic, long term view to talent management and workforce needs.

According to a survey from Ardent Partners, today 9% of organisations have a mature total workforce management practice in place, and just over half (58%) are either sitting on or executing plans to implement the approach in the coming period. Illustrating the growing awareness among HR leaders to reap the benefits of total workforce management.

So what are these benefits then? According to consutants from Quintop Management Consultants, a Netherlands-based human capital consultancy, they can broadly be broken down into five categories.

Better decision making The quality level of creating and directing business plans, budgeting and operational planning significantly improves, which enables the organisation to increase its agility, react quicker to trends and make better decisions.

Engagement By managing the workforce as a collective, such as giving internal employees and flex workers the opportunity to join the same trainings and workshops, organisations create a stronger link and connection among all employees. This not only makes employees more responsible, but also stimulates innovation, which often emerges where different groups come together.

Attracting talent Organisations are in a better position to proactively attract talent, at a lower cost and with less risk, which in return improves the organisations’ level of flexibility. This is important as the labour market changes constantly, including changes in law and regulation.

Improved visibility By using a system that lists available job postings in a transparent way and allows permanent employees and flex workers to respond to vacancies, companies ‘unlock’ their own people’s potential, which creates a competitive advantage for the organisation.

Flexibility Total workforce management is flexible in increasing and decreasing the number of resources, without losing quality. Success is not about internal employees or flex workers but attracting the right people.

Implementing TWM
For total workforce management to be implemented successfully, Quintop’s experts stress that two key success factors need to be in place. First, a strong collaboration between human resources and procurement. Traditionally, HR’s role is to attract, develop and manage the workforce. As such, HR views contingent labour as a means to access job candidates.
Procurement’s job meanwhile is to manage risk, costs and contracts. Hence, contingent labour is seen as the most cost-effective way to attract resources. In reality, the functions do not always join forces when it comes to total workforce management. By breaking down their departmental siloes, human resources and procurement should be able to manage their interests while being motivated to work toward a common goal.

Besides collaboration, total workforce management secondly requires management and leadership; stakeholders need to be aligned and activities require coordination. The implementation requires a clear vision, purpose and strategy, supported by senior leadership that spreads the message, to cascade key messages and build awareness and commitment.