By Vinos Samuel
Director, Client Solutions
Asia Pacific

Seventy-nine percent of CEOs globally worry about the availability of key skills. It’s one of their top three concerns, per the PwC’s 22nd CEO Survey trends series. As a result, we see more businesses in the Asia Pacific region today turning towards hybrid workforces comprised of a mix between full-time employees and various kinds of contingent or contract workers.

According to a recent SIA study, some companies in APAC have 20-30% of their workforce as contingent or non-permanent. Thanks to the access and ease to engage freelancers for creative, repetitive, and professional work, the hybrid workforce looks to be a solution for addressing various talent and business challenges throughout this region.

It is not just small companies driving the shift. More than 80 percent of large corporations plan to increase their use of contingent workers, per a recent Intuit 2020 Report.

Talent acquisition leaders are shifting their focus beyond recruiting full-time hires to accessing people with the right capabilities in new ways. They are embracing internal mobility, the alternative workforce and new technologies to access more talent faster.
But what is driving this shift? In APAC, there are many factors:

  • Need for increased agility. In today’s market, businesses must be flexible and respond to changing demands quickly. Incorporating external workers in your workforce plan makes this easier. The cost of a wrong hire is immense, and no business has the capacity to take that risk.
  • The skills shortage. The accelerating adoption of automation is creating intense demand for technical skills that don’t widely exist in today’s workforce. Plus, many employers believe that large numbers of college grads are missing skills in complex thinking, collaboration, teamwork and comms. Furthermore, extremely skilled workers can often make more money and gain more-varied experience working on a flexible basis. All these challenges make finding – and keeping -- qualified talent particularly difficult.
  • Emerging talent pools. As more people choose to work independently, traditional sourcing methods are no longer as relevant or effective. Businesses today use mobile and social recruiting, as well as online talent platforms, to source in-demand external talent.
  • Demographics. Birth rates in advanced markets like Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong began declining 20-30 years ago, leading to reduced labour pools today.

Up until recently, professionals viewed contract, freelance and gig employment as ‘alternative work’ or supplementary to full-time jobs. Today, more freelancers are turning their gigs into actual jobs. Given growing skills shortages and increased demand for agility, leveraging and managing alternative workforces will become essential to business growth in the years ahead. This holistic approach is called total talent acquisition.

“I do believe, from the perspective of business leaders and hiring managers, that talent acquisition can add the most value as a ‘one-stop shop’ for all talent needs,” says Kristian Warner, Regional Talent Acquisition Lead, SE Asia, for GSK. “For me, the aspiration is for TA to almost be like an Apple Store experience for hiring managers. They go into the store knowing they can speak to a single point of contact who is an expert on all kinds of talent solutions, and they can choose whatever best suits their needs. The process should be seamless to them.”

Total Talent Acquisition in Practice

Let us say your company develops technology products. Today you undertake the end-to-end development using full-time permanent employees in your headquarters or the IT shared services function. If you break down the development and release process into steps, what tasks or responsibilities must be done by your full-time teams? Can some be outsourced with project-based statements of work (SOWs) or done through freelancers?

When TA leaders challenge their teams and hiring managers to get creative about what’s actually required to do the work, the answer to that question can be "Yes.”

In this scenario, your full-time team can keep the proprietary code development responsibility and outcomes, you outsource the QA testing responsibility to a freelancer or two, and you agree on an SOW with an agency to manage the maintenance.

Société Générale, a European-based financial and professional services firm and Cielo client, adopted a Total Talent Acquisition model to take a holistic approach to their permanent and contingent hiring. Rethinking the makeup of the teams they need to complete work has helped them ramp up faster, reduce cycle times and – in the longer run – save costs and improve efficiencies as the process matures. If businesses in APAC consider a comprehensive way to acquire all talent, it can positively impact their entire talent ecosystem.

Barriers for Total Talent Acquisition in APAC

Despite its advantages, obstacles persist for adopting total talent. Established businesses can be hesitant to move toward total talent because it generally requires fundamental changes to the way companies structure their talent functions.

Today in most organisations, HR and TA teams are responsible for acquiring full-time employees, and the business or procurement are responsible for acquiring or procuring contingent talent. All these responsibilities need to come together on one team to build a successful total talent acquisition function and realize the full benefits of a unified strategy.

“This often requires a fundamentally different way of working for large organizations where contingent and permanent workforces are usually managed separately, and the internal/external talent discussion is often not integrated,” said Warner.

Exploring the feasibility and advantages of a total talent acquisition model requires a clear understanding of your entire existing workforce composition. You need robust reporting and talent analytics capabilities that show you how your company engages, acquires and manages the different kinds of talent across businesses and across geographies. Not all companies have the sophisticated reporting that expertise or technology to enable this comprehensive view.

Additionally, employers lack visibility of employee skills beyond the scope of their original job description. Many companies automatically choose to go externally to recruit for needed skills when a need arises. The reality is, they may already have qualified internal employees actively looking to make a job change. Many companies bypass this rich talent pool because they do not know how to harness it.

How Cielo Defines Total Talent

At Cielo, our view of total talent acquisition takes the emphasis away from just being about permanent versus contingent to see the bigger picture comprising of things like early talent, executive search, talent mapping, alumni programmes and internal mobility. Cielo’s Total Talent Acquisition solutions are designed to deliver a single, holistic talent strategy that directly aligns to business goals. We will work with you to understand your plans for growth and align those goals with your workforce plan.

We offer insight on the talent landscape to help select the right resource model to deliver the desired output. For a few clients, we have introduced workforce planning technologies to augment and update annual workforce plans.

Benefits of Total Talent Acquisition

  • Consistency: Integrated governance, strategic direction, and relationship layers
  • Total visibility and control: consolidated reporting, reputational risk management
  • Reduced cost per hire and agency usage
Hiring Managers:
  • One point of contact across all hiring streams - simplified touchpoints, increased efficiency
  • True strategic resourcing partners: sharing market insight to inform approach
  • Better quality of hire = reduced attrition and training costs
  • Create a best in class candidate experience
  • Consistent, brand aligned delivery
  • Trusted advisor: providing guidance on current and future legislation
TA Teams:
  • Enabling true collaboration with businesses
  • Increasing skills
  • Developing succession plans

We collectively communicate that strategy with hiring managers to gain buy-in to the model and goals. We ensure all hiring managers – whether recruiting for hourly, contingent or permanent roles -- work with one internal team. It helps them to meet their business commitments and ensures all candidates experience truly exceptional service that differentiates your brand from that of your competitors.

Our exclusive SkyRecruit technology platform underpins our commitment to unparalleled hiring manager and candidate experiences. A key feature is the ability to organize and pool passive and actively sourced candidates, regardless of contractual engagement, increasing our ability to bring you the right talent with the right skills, fast.

Our high-tech, high-touch approach will leverage digital solutions smartly to deliver a consumer-grade candidate experience that builds on your Employee Value Proposition. We’ll tailor this highly personal, branded experience for internal, permanent and contingent candidates.

We’ll agree on your target level of internal mobility, the roles that are reliably filled by contractors but rarely by permanent employees, and where you anticipate shortfalls in internal talent that will be ready to progress and external succession planning is required. Deloitte confirmed in their 2019 Human Capital Report that organizations can no longer expect to source and hire enough people with all the capacities they need; they must move and develop people internally to thrive.

You will have real-time views of the performance of the strategy through reporting and analytics. These data-based insights inform hiring decisions and improve business performance by positively impacting cost, time, and quality of hire.

Looking Ahead

The mindset shift of an organisation to a total talent acquisition model is challenging but a transformation that is possible. It requires understanding and confidence from all the decision makers from the CEO and country heads to human resources leaders to procurement directors.

So, what should be your first step? Getting this important approach on the conference table and starting the discussion.