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The journey towards TTM – the UCB case

“How can our Talent Strategy better support our UCB company mission?” This was one of the starting points for UCB to implement an Integrated Talent Acquisition approach. Other drivers were scarcity on the labour market, evolutions in the workforce ecosystem, innovative technologies and digitalization.

Time for change

Being a  global pharmaceutical company our UCB mission is ‘create value for patients’, explains Geraldine Yung, Head of Global Talent Acquisition team at UCB. Together with Anthony Foester, Global Purchasing Manager UCB. She was in Amsterdam at ProcureCon2018 to testify about their journey towards Integrated Talent Acquisition.

In 2017 UCB decided to tier down all silo’s between HR and Procurement teams in charge of talent acquisition. Instead of recruiting the best talents in the market they could only conclude they were more often than not competing against each other for the same talents. Which is not only most inefficient but also not good for your reputation as an attractive company. HR and Procurement now jointly work together while (parts of) the integrated talent acquisition process are outsourced to a third party partner, in this case Randstad Sourceright.

Changes in the workforce ecosystem were among the main drivers for this drastic change. More specific the rise of the ‘Gig Economy’ with a growing number of highly educated professionals looking for freelance gigs. In their offer to new talents UCB no longer distinguishes between perm and flexible contracts. Onboarding the right talent at the right time is their challenge reducing the contract to nothing more than an administrative detail and something for new talents to decide, not UCB. This is a candidate driven market so time to drastically  throw old school habits over board. 

Wrap up from the first year

Where are we now exactly one year after the launch of the new talent approach? Both Geraldine and Anthony were most positive about the results so far. However there remains a lot to be done too and there are still some major challenges to be solved as well.

On the positive side they mention improved candidate and hiring manager experience, reduction of hidden cost, total workforce visibility, process efficiency and up to date technology. In general recruitment now is more aligned with the UCB strategy which is what it all started with.

Ongoing projects are i.e. implementation of a talent advisor program, which is not yet 100% up and running.

Lessons learned and remaining challenges

  1. Technology providers are not ready to support full visibility of the entire workforce of a company. As this is a major risk for the success of the concept Geraldine strongly advises to work with an MSP and tooling provider that work together as partners in a marriage.
  2. It sometimes is difficult internally to change old habits and some processes still need to be adjusted. Tip from Anthony: perform a due diligence on your own processes before ahead and see where you are.
  3. There are still discussions about headcount, there is no TTM budget yet and this leads to discussions on perm or flex contracts.
  4. A big bang is not the best idea, go for a phased approach, step by step, and use cross functional team as much as possible.
  5. Make sure you understand what the definition of Total Workforce is in your CEO ‘ s head. Aligning definitions and classification method needs to be done prior listing all workers.
  6. Take your time to make the business case. It took UCB 6 months to gather all the data.
  7. Understand the cost of what you see in the data and understand the value of solutions and benefits.

Marleen Deleu – Director Trends & Insights NextConomy – on a mission to bring insights and expertise to the freelance workforce and users of contingent labor in Belgium

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