Video: Babcock’s Road to Total Talent Management

As the UK’s leading engineering support services organisation, Babcock employs more than 34,000 people around the world. With ManpowerGroup’s support, they are embracing a Total Talent Management approach to workforce management, to ensure their overarching business strategy is translated into a fully joined-up, holistic people strategy.

We interviewed Ali Gilani, Head of Resourcing for the Marine sector at Babcock International Group to learn more about their journey to Total Talent Management. We invite you to watch the video to see a short excerpt of the interview. Alternatively, you can read the interview in full below.

Are you seeing a shift in how talent wants to engage with your business, and how are you responding to this?

We are a traditional business and one of the largest employers in the locations we operate. In Plymouth, for example, we employ about 5,000 people. Currently, Baby Boomers and Millennials account for about 40% of our population each. But in five years, we expect Baby Boomers to account for less than 22%, while Millennials will account for more than 56%. Traditionally, candidates have known who and where we are, so they have come us. However, we are now seeing a need for far greater use of technology during the recruitment process – for attraction and initial engagement, in particular – and we know that this is going to grow.

Additionally, we are also seeing a shift in what employees want. As we recruit more Millennials, we’re seeing them increasingly look for greater purpose in their roles. They want to ensure their role aligns with overall company mission and adds real value in society. This means that, overall, they are less motivated by money in their career choices than previous generations. Our Employer Value Proposition needs to align with this changing attitude.

What do you perceive to be the greatest challenges in attracting and retaining the best talent over the next five years?

The single biggest challenge facing traditional heavy engineering businesses such as Babcock is the lack of engineering talent in the UK. There is a shortage of talent and high competition from other engineering sectors that are looking for similar skill sets – such as those in Oil & Gas, Mining, Nuclear, Renewables, as well as Financial Services and Consultancies.

Added to this, we’re also challenged by an ageing workforce (the average age for engineers at Babcock is 51 years old) and, of course, the potential impact of Brexit. For us, these issues are compounded due to the more remote locations in which we operate.

What interventions have you/are you putting in place to prepare for these challenges?

Our prime imperative is to build our own talent, rather than relying on our ability to attract and recruit ready-made talent from the market. However, this needs to be built upon a solid foundation of an integrated mid- to longer-term people strategy. We need to think more intelligently, rather than react to peaks and troughs.

This will be achieved by having a robust Strategic Workforce Planning process, allowing for a Total Talent Management approach, rather than relying on hiring (and firing) as the overarching method of maintaining a right-skilled workforce. This is an approach that too many companies have relied on (and are still relying on) for too long!

How important do you feel a Total Talent Management approach is to dealing with future talent challenges?

It’s absolutely imperative. As Mark Twain once said: “to a man with hammer, everything looks like a nail”.

As I have mentioned already, companies and resourcing functions have for too long relied upon hiring in good times and firing in difficult times to maintain a right-skilled workforce. With the current lack of engineering talent in the UK, which is set to worsen for the foreseeable future, this can no longer be a viable way of working. We now need to rely on a holistic and orchestrated talent strategy. Or, in other words, a Total Talent Management approach.

For us, that means knowing where, when and how to use the 5 B’s of talent:

  • Buy – Permanent from outside
  • Borrow – Contract recruitment
  • Build – Graduates and apprentices
  • Bump – Succession management
  • Bind – Retention for difficult or niche skillsets (combined with Buy, Build or Bump).

Which solutions have you utilised throughout your partnership with ManpowerGroup and how are these supporting you in your journey to Total Talent Management?

Experis currently provides our Master Vendor solution for our permanent recruitment (up to executive level), while TAPFIN provides a Managed Service Programme (MSP) for our contractors. What I would like is a much more joined up approach from our relationship with ManpowerGroup, covering both contingent and perm recruitment to ensure there is a seamless approach. In turn, this will support our journey to Total Talent Management, whereby both the Buy and Borrow Options are covered through ManpowerGroup.

Internally, we will manage the Build, Bump and Bind actions through our Talent, Learning and Development, Rewards functions. This will ensure we have a holistic Total Talent Management solution, driven by the overarching business strategy that is translated into the people strategy.

What barriers have you faced in developing a Total Talent Management strategy within your organisation and how have you overcome these?

The main challenge is ensuring the medium- to long-term people strategy is correct and fit for purpose. This involves a number of actions prior to developing the people that will in turn drive the Total Talent Management strategy, including:

  • Scanning the market environment – to review exactly what do our customers what from us, what are our competition doing, what is the availability of talent in the market, and what is our relative attractiveness for this talent.
  • Converting the mid to long-term business strategy into a demand forecast – overlaid with our supply forecast, this will give is the gap in terms of both numbers and skill sets we will have against our overarching strategy.

Without the above, we will not be in a position to develop our long-term people strategy which, in turn, drives our Total Talent Management strategy. We also cannot ensure we’re using all the tools in our HR armoury – such as apprentice and grad hires and development, succession planning; retention programmes and cross-functional and cross-technical moves.

Explore Our Solutions to learn more about how ManpowerGroup Solutions can support your organisation on the journey to Total Talent Management.