Are you open to being more open?

Are you open to being more open?

Posted by Andrew Liakopoulos on July 12, 2013

Today Deloitte launched a new report that zeros in and expands on one of the 2013 Human Capital Trends we’ve been tracking: the open talent economy. We’re seeing an unrelenting progression toward a fundamental change in the way organizations consider, access, and deploy talent, brought about by the convergence of several sweeping megatrends: globalization, technology, education, mobility, social media, and analytics. There’s no place where you can hide from these world¬wide changes, and no industry or sector that is immune to them. No matter what you do or where you do it, these megatrends will affect your business strategy.

From a talent perspective, the megatrends are spurring the trend toward a continuum of talent options—closed on one end (where most organizations have traditionally resided) and open on the other. The diagram explains the options.

Open Talent
Open Talent

This opening of talent practices has implications for how you build your talent strategy:

  • What is the vision for your talent—the brand you are trying to create in the marketplace that will support the business brand and strategy?
  • What are the critical workforces in your organization? Typically they are those that drive disproportionate value in achieving business outcomes and, in terms of supply and demand, are difficult to obtain and retain.
  • What priority talent programs should you invest in to enable critical workforces?
  • What infrastructure is required to support those investments, whether a new total rewards program or the technical architecture these programs reside on?

A typical issue we see is the lack of a link between the talent strategy and the business strategy. We see, for example, an organization saying it needs to work on performance management. The questions we ask then are, why performance management? Why invest in it? What results are you hoping to get by making that investment? How will that help drive business objectives? It may be that an organization is trying to drive a pay-for-performance culture, which might be measured through increased revenue through sales. This leads to the question of which workforce segments really drive that part of the equation: Is it call center reps? Is it sales agents? Is it marketing? Many times we see organizations trying to start with the answer before asking themselves which programs they should be investing in based on the organizational results they are trying to achieve.

So, there are a couple of things to reconcile: On one hand is the continuum of the open talent economy and all the possibilities it presents for rethinking the way work gets done, and on the other is the talent strategy necessary to support the business strategy. Each hand affects the other—the openness of your talent strategy affects the components of your talent strategy, including the employer brand, workforce planning, talent acquisition, learning, leadership, total rewards, and performance management.

While we’re seeing more and more examples of organizations moving to the “open” end of the continuum, the point is not “closed is bad; open is good.” The point is that the opening of the talent economy gives you more choices that could lead to truly transformational advances for your business. It also gives you more challenges for how you are going to manage this talent. Some organizations are deliberately balancing different parts of this model in response to a more volatile demand stream for their product or service. They have a core of balance sheet talent, and then flex, based on customer or market demand, with borrowed or freelance talent. We’re also seeing more instances of open source talent being deployed: a technology company that doesn’t need a Help desk because users have created their own online forums to ask and answer questions, and a manufacturing company that uses commercials to reach out to its audience for innovative ideas on how its products can be used.

There’s so much to this topic—too much for a blog post. But we explore these concepts in more detail (including execution and measurement) in our new report, The Open Talent Economy: People and Work in a Borderless Workplace that you can tap into at your convenience. What I’d like to leave you with, though, is the understanding that the open talent economy trend is real, is not going away, and deserves the attention of not only HR leaders, but leaders throughout the organization. Being open to being more open is something all organization should be exploring.

Andrew Liakopoulos Andrew Liakopoulos is a principal in the Human Capital practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP and currently leads Deloitte’s National Talent Strategies practice.

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