EconSys Blog

What is Talent Management?

Oct 09, 2018 | By: Drew Lessard | Category: Workforce Planning

Frequently used interchangeably to describe important human resources (HR) functions in the Federal Government, talent management encompasses the unique steps taken by an organization to anticipate human capital needs and plans to meet those needs. 


Human resources traditionally evaluates an individual and their role and tries to make the best match possible, not only during the hiring process but in the future as the role evolves, frequently in a 1:1 way.

Talent management asks HR specialists to look ahead – to anticipate not just current fit but future influence and fit. Will this person be a fit with the overall organization and its culture, the future roles that they may grow into, and the responsibilities you anticipate becoming part of the role in the future? Rather than a transactional process of hiring and managing people, talent management is a more holistic approach to development of your best people.

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How is Talent Management Different from HR?

This all sounds very familiar, and for good reason. HR is often described as an all-encompassing bucket into which all people management is placed. But where talent management looks at the individual employees, their role in your organization, and the future of their role in your agency, HR treats them as an asset – a resource to be managed.

Both talent management and human resources exist to manage your employees, onboard new staff, train existing team members, and ensure the talent needs of the agency are met. But the way in which they do so varies dramatically, and government HR teams are starting to recognize these differences and integrate new concepts to improve upon them. Specifically, three areas where you will see differences include: 

  • Responsibilities – An HR specialist is responsible for administrative functions like pay, benefits, grievances, and performance cycle management. Talent management also focuses on performance, but through the lens of the employees. They work to measure competencies, develop new skills, and maintain a good fit between employee and agency.
  • Management – With a talent management approach, the processes of hiring, training and professional development to support better retention rates are often separated into different job functions. Because they are decentralized, and new software tools are leveraged to support these functions, it ensures greater focus on key components of your workforce.
  • Strategy – HR can be reactive. When new employees are needed, they start searching for applicants who meet listed requirements. Talent management is more proactive, building a long-term strategy over the course of the next 3-5 years, identifying potential workforce gaps, and building plans to not only hire accordingly but train and promote into open positions as needed.

In government, the difference between human resources and talent management will vary based on organization size, resource allocation, and current directives and goals. Is there a better option? Not necessarily, but the benefits of a talent management approach for larger government agencies with complex hiring needs in both the short- and long-term is important.

Supporting Your Talent Management Needs with the Right Software

One of the areas affected by your organization’s approach to managing human capital is the technology you select. Software should be flexible to match the specific needs of your current HR operations, configurable to meet your organization’s processes, and supported by intelligent modules that can help predict those future needs more accurately. EconSys Workforce Analytics tools are designed to support the progressive management of human capital in federal agencies, through workforce planning, competency modeling, and skills assessments, and day-to-day management tools. Learn more here or read about how smart Workforce Analytics can support operations efficiency in our eBook.

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