One in three US workers is a freelancer. Seven of 10 executives and HR leaders recognize that integrating and leveraging the part-time and contingent workforce is important to their business, and only 11% have complete management processes for the contingent part of their workforce. Meanwhile, 52% of leaders agree that a competitive workforce of the future will have a higher mix of contingent workers and 85% say integrated talent management is an important approach for enhancing the resources available to their business.

These trends point to a new reality: The transformation of the workforce isn’t on its way; it has arrived, and companies aren’t ready. They are investing in process improvements, better technology and social and mobile recruiting, but many have yet to optimize the composition of their workforce itself. How do you shift from an employee centric view of the talent universe to a view of workers as a mix of employees, contingent workforce, freelancers and statement-of-work (SOW) workers? That is the total talent approach, and for most large, dynamic organizations, it is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity.

The big issues

Companies are still managing yesterday’s workforce. Companies are shifting their workforce to include a larger portion of nonemployees, but they manage their full-time and contingent talent separately, with little communication or strategy across both segments. As a result, they miss out on talent and make bad decisions because the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. When 30% of your workforce is nonemployees, can you afford to ignore that segment?

Most large employers don’t have plans in place to change how they organize work. Workforce interests are changing. Gen Y workers have very different thoughts on work and their relationships with their employers. Many workers prefer part-time or fl exible schedules, and changes like the Affordable Care Act remove the independent health insurance barrier that may have prevented this in the past. Adjusting to a world that breaks the traditional silos and expectations of “employee” and “non-employee” workers requires focus and planning.

Many companies haven’t thought beyond the usual view of, “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

Talent leaders are overwhelmed. Not only are the methods of talent innovation changing, but business itself is changing. More than half of the Fortune 500 have been bought out or had a significant downturn since 2000. As recently as 2000, Blackberry had 45% of market share compared to Android’s 7%. And Uber, which just started in 2009, now dominates taxi services. Innovation and digital business is shifting the business landscape, and often yesterday’s workforce isn’t nimble enough to adjust to changing needs. This leaves talent leaders in a very difficult position. Their business and workforce is changing faster than ever, the number of talent options and innovations is at an all-time high, yet the budgets and time allowed to move the needle grow shorter.

What can we do?

Refocus on talent. The efficiency and cost cutting that has been achieved by traditional MSPs in managing the talent supply is no longer enough. The focus needs to shift to ensuring quality bestmatch talent. Onboarding and engagement will be essential to talent quality.

Rethink talent strategy. Not many companies are intentional about their mix of employees, contingent workers, contractors and SOW workers. Moving forward, the thinking — from hiring manager to talent leader — must shift from, “How can I have a body here quickly and with the least hassle?” to, “What is the best way to accomplish this work?” A contingent or non-traditional method should be considered.

Bring innovation. Look for external partners to bring innovation and advice.