Total talent is a concept that has struggled to find its place in most organizations. When the idea emerged decades ago, it was hard to take seriously. Because many organizations were struggling to get their arms around their labor spend and put appropriate controls in place on a tactical level, they didn’t have time to think about a total talent utopia where all labor engagement channels worked in harmony with each other. While it may have been hard to envision the end goal of total talent, this concept has had a revival recently as companies are coming around to the next evolution of their labor programs, subtly calling on some of the tenets of total talent.

After two years of overwhelming talent demand, HR leadership is starting to pay attention to this concept as a solution to their talent problems, and many programs have begun to plan for the next-gen implementation of this strategy. Although many leaders weren’t willing to consider this approach prior to the pandemic, total talent has become a real option for organizations looking to become talent differentiators, as the foundational components of many programs have been laid and are ready to be interconnected with the other sourcing channels around them.

Direct sourcing, one of the biggest catalysts for the concept, requires companies to build pools of talent and be more thoughtful about how they interact and engage with that talent. Naturally, this creates stronger ties to talent acquisition as programs look for overlap in their sourcing functions, processes and systems.

The way talent wants to interact with a client is also changing, which creates a wider variety of engagements beyond just employee or contractor. As the complexity grows, organizations respond by indexing those labor types and positioning more support on the front end of the process to assess the needs of their business and ensure the most appropriate paths/engagements are utilized.

Another contributor to the adoption of total talent is the need for information. As organizations start to build strategies around centralization of data and intelligence, we begin to see the need to standardize the language and data fields being used so the data can become comparable. While this may start as a reporting or systems project, it often leads category leaders to look for ways to present common trends and find benchmarks across similar processes and functions.

The adoption of total talent is a slow progression, but all of these changes in the contingent workforce ecosystem are driving more infrastructure for the concept. It will be interesting to watch how the technology and service providers rebuild more appropriate total talent solutions like RPO, hybrid MSP services (less full service, more specialized functions) and CRM/HCM platforms to engage talent more dynamically. Total talent isn’t coming — it’s already here.