Interview Marleen Deleu

reading time: 5min | #interviews # principals | April 29, 2019 | Daan De Bock
A while back we talked about the rise of Total Talent Management in Human Resources. Last week, our editors had the opportunity to sit down with HR expert and founder of Nextconomy: Marleen Deleu. During a warm chat, we were able to field all our questions about the changing HR landscape, the rise of freelancers and her quest to instill Total Talent Management in HR professionals. Below is our account.


Why did you start NextConomy at the time?

In 1987, I entered the world of HR services rather by accident. I would do this temporarily, waiting for a job as a teacher. And lo and behold, after all these years I am still here. The world of hired talent in organizations has become my playing field and sharing my knowledge and insights my driving force. Since 2014, I have been working as an independent consultant for organizations looking to develop a vision and policy for their (sometimes large numbers of) external talent. My ambition is to bring knowledge to HR Managers and Purchasing Managers so that they hire more efficiently and effectively. NextConomy fits perfectly into this mission to share knowledge and insights. But we want to go even further, and also, for example, fuel the debate about the future of work. Think about topics such as the increasing number of highly skilled freelancers and what this is doing to organizations. Or the impact of technology on how we work and how work is organized.


What evolutions do you currently see happening in the HR landscape?

The world of work is changing at breakneck speed. Many new forms of work and ways of organizing work are emerging. Technology makes it possible to work together as a team from a great distance, people can work 'any place' and 'on any device', cobots support heavy, boring or dirty work, ... As a result, more and more highly educated talents are choosing to work independently. They want to determine in complete freedom where and when they work, as well as what work they do. After all, assignments can be found quickly and easily through online marketplaces where supply and demand come together quickly and efficiently. Moreover, the demand for these experts is increasing because the knowledge present in organizations is rapidly becoming obsolete and organizations are responding too late, or worse, not at all. As a result, top talent is no longer in the pond that HR has traditionally fished to recruit from.


Why do you think Total Talent Management is a decisive factor for a successful HR policy?

Total Talent Management means that in your HR policy you do not distinguish between the talents on your own payroll and those you hire externally. Too often we see in organizations a very rigid separation between the two ecosystems, sometimes prompted by concerns about not complying with laws and regulations. But sometimes also prompted by purely financial considerations such as cost savings. The selection of externs is too often based on the hourly rate and not on their (intrinsic) competence, 'cultural fit' or personality. The term 'dehumanization' unfortunately applies here all too often. As separate ecosystems for permanent and flex talent have emerged, many organizations lack an integrated view of the total working population. Talent management is then a matter of many coteries and especially many blind spots.


One statement, "Companies that don't do TTM are losing the battle for talent."

Large-scale hiring of externals is already much more common than management in organizations think. And this phenomenon will continue to grow, whether you think it's desirable or not. Studies by Unizo, among others, prove year after year that these are senior profiles, highly trained niche experts with years of experience. Optimally managing and deploying this large and growing group has become a necessary factor to be and remain successful as an organization in the future. If not managed properly, the large-scale hiring of externals poses considerable risks to the organization.


How can companies best get started with total talent management? What steps should they take?

The composition of the working population is changing rapidly, and will continue to do so. As a result, the complexity of talent management is only increasing. It is therefore a matter of aligning your HR strategy with this new reality to create stability, reliability and dynamism for the organization and for everyone who works there.

The starting point for this exercise is different for each organization, and the path leading to an integrated HR policy is also unique in each case. There is no "one-size-fits-all" tactic. But what does apply to every organization is that the first step of change is to demonstrate that change is needed. What is your situation? What is the composition of your working population really like? By making a first 'quick scan' and looking at your organization with an open mind, you will already gain insight into your 'blind spot'. The result of this audit gives you direction on where and what can be improved.

By the way, I am currently working on a book on Total Talent Management that provides insights on the need, but is also intended as a guide to get started.


Where is the added value of freelancers in a total talent management policy?

Freelancers are a growing group of experts who not only provide the organization and teams with knowledge, but also offer a fresh perspective and bring in experiences from at other organizations. They are responsible for their own training and owe it to themselves to keep up to date. They charge a fixed price that includes all expenses, which makes their efforts easy to budget. Freelancers have every interest in establishing a good working relationship and are therefore highly committed and highly motivated. Freelancers provide the organization with specific knowledge on a temporary basis, which makes the organization more agile and responsive. Finally, freelancers are by definition very autonomous and you need to manage them less than your own employees.


Looking for a freelancer for your business?

GiGHOUSE screens freelancers thoroughly and quickly matches the right freelancer to your assignment. Hereby we take into account the right competencies and a cultural fit with your company. Interested in a smooth cooperation with freelancers? GiGHOUSE gets you started quickly.

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