The Total Talent Management Event Series from ManpowerGroup Solutions provides an opportunity for senior procurement professionals to explore the significant trends impacting future talent strategies. During our event in June 2018, we explored the theme: Gaining Business-Wide Support for Total Talent Management.
We were joined by guest speaker Ali Gilani, Talent & Resourcing Director for the Marine Sector at Babcock International Group. As the UK’s leading engineering support services organisation, Babcock is in the process of implementing a joined-up, holistic approach to talent, which ensures full alignment between their business and people strategies. As well as discussing their experience of implementing Total Talent Management, Ali shared his recommendations for others who would like to begin or continue their journey. His presentation was followed by an interactive audience discussion.
We’re pleased to share an overview of the event’s discussions below.
Introducing a Holistic Approach to Talent
Babcock’s journey to Total Talent Management began with a number of important labour market challenges. They have an ageing workforce, where the average age of workers is 51 years old. Added to this, they are competing against other organisations which may be deemed more ‘attractive’, and some of Babcock’s working locations are in areas not known for engineering skills. Compounding all of this is the potential impact of Brexit and an industry-wide skills shortage of between 40,000 and 70,000 engineers annually for the next 5 – 10 years.
As a result of these issues, Ali explained that Babcock realised they could no longer just rely on hiring directly from the market as their only talent solution, as many companies have done in the past. Instead, they needed a more holistic approach to talent. For Babcock, this means knowing where, when and how to use the 7 B’s of talent management:
- Buy – recruit permanent talent from outside the organisation
- Borrow – contract recruitment
- Build – developing talent through graduates and apprenticeships
- Bump – succession management, internal moves
- Bind – retention for difficult or niche skillsets (combined with buy, bind and bump)
- Bounce – move the work elsewhere
- Bale – reduce headcount
Importance of Strategic Workforce Planning
Nonetheless, Ali explained that Babcock is working to improve their approach so that they don’t tackle each of these areas in isolation. They need to be part of an orchestrated plan which is driven by Strategic Workforce Planning, which translates their multi-year business strategy into an annual HR action plan for recruitment. As a result of Strategic Workforce Planning, critical jobs will be secured; future skill requirements will be identified and proactively recruited/developed; demographics will be analysed and used to balance the workforce; and the organisation will be appropriately staffed, without being put at risk due to a lack – or abundance – of employees.
Strategic Workforce Planning can take many different forms. For Babcock, Ali outlined that their first step was to fully flesh out the business strategy. When the business strategy is finalised, this is translated into a demand forecast, which determined how many people with what skill sets would be required in the workforce over the following five plus years in order to deliver the business strategy.
Armed with the business strategy and demand forecast, Ali explained that they then look at the current workforce. By reviewing future attrition and expected retirements, they create a supply forecast. This allows them to assess whether they have too few or too many workers by skill set to meet business demand.
This gap analysis allows Babcock to create a workforce strategy that is directly linked to business strategy. Not only can this be used to create a five plus year people strategy by job type, but it is also used to create a cohesive, holistic overarching people strategy using the 7 B’s.
Recommendations for Organisations
In implementing Total Talent Management, Ali shared that one of their key learnings was to avoid “eating the whole elephant in one bite”. He recommended that organisations choose one critical area of the workforce to focus on – one that has a board sponsor and a tangible problem to solve. This could be a business area which could bring the business to a standstill, if there were issues with the talent pipeline.
Ali also recommended that organisations understand how long the learning curve is to SQEP (suitable qualified and experienced person). This is fundamental in forecasting the future talent pipeline.
As an example, Ali asked the audience to think about a Master Glass Blower working in a glass factory in Venice. The Master Glass Blower is a business critical role, taking 15 years to train to the right level. If you know your Master Glass Blower is likely to retire in five years’ time, you may as well start preparing to close the business – you don’t have enough time to train someone to the right level to replace them. However, if they’re likely to retire in 15 years[ time, now is the time to hire apprentices and other entry-level recruiters, and start training them, as part of your succession plans.
Early Years Career Development
During our discussion that followed Ali’s presentation, an attendee from a leading technology company proposed adding another B to the list: Birth. They explained that their organisation has heavily invested in early year’s education, and must continue to look that far ahead when developing their talent pipeline. It was noted that this links into the issue of ageing workforces. Since we are not effectively repopulating the workforce, retirement ages are being pushed back, which has a significant impact on the overarching workforce structure.
Another topic of conversation was the importance – and challenges – of recruiting graduates. One attendee explained that they focus on recruiting graduates within their organisation, and have a very structured progression plan to guide them through the first two years of their career. However, at the end of the graduate programme, there is a very high attrition rate. Recruiting graduates has been very beneficial for their organisation and, in many ways, has proven to be more successful than bringing in outside talent. Nonetheless, the issue of attrition must be overcome to ensure long-term success.
Finally, it was noted that some organisations only recruit graduates because of the benefits it can have to their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, rather than the role it can have in talent development. As a result, not enough time is spent considering their progression once they’re in a role. It’s important that organisations take a step back and assess what problem they’re trying to solve when recruiting graduates – rather than just recruiting them because they ‘always have’.
Diversity in the Workforce
Implementing a Total Talent Management approach enables business leaders to recognise and rebalance a lack of diversity across their entire workforce, rather than implementing strategies within siloed business areas. With many organisations currently considering the diversity of their workforce, this can be a compelling argument to harness when looking to gain business-wide support for Total Talent Management.
For example, one attendee noted that in a previous role, their organisation was very male-dominated. To overcome skills shortages, they brought older talent back into the workforce. However, in some ways, this hindered their efforts to rebalance gender diversity. With a Total Talent perspective, they would have the visibility needed to identify and address these issues.
The importance of diversity in succession planning and promotions was also an important topic of conversation. Many companies allocate quotas on gender split at interview and appointment stage – but very few talk about how they target equal progression through the ranks of the company. Once again, an effective Total Talent Management strategy can support organisations with this process.
Relationship between HR and Procurement
Implementing Total Talent Management brings HR and Procurement teams closer than ever before. Many benefits can be realised as a result. For example, having one supplier working across both the permanent and contingent workforce can simplify the recruitment process and allow business leaders to think more holistically about their entire workforce when making strategic decisions.
However, the reality of HR and Procurement teams working closely together very much depends on the maturity of both functions. As one attendee pointed out during our discussion, it can sometimes take time to get to the level of maturity needed to work efficiently together. And, sometimes, procurement can become the facilitator across different HR functions.
It’s all about human interaction. When procurement and HR teams come together, it’s because they have a clear purpose, and this has a big impact on whether business leaders can gain business-wide support for Total Talent Management. The intent of the individuals leading the journey is very important.