Millennials aren’t just the future of talent – they already make up the majority of the workforce. Procurement has often struggled to compete with other functions for talent, so our ability to engage the potential of this group isn’t a discussion for the future, it’s a mark of the success of current strategies.
Millennials are currently aged between 22 and 37, meaning not only could you be missing out on that essential new talent direct from education but also on those who already have two decades experience. It’s time to lose some of those preconceptions and focus on changing the function so it becomes a home for this talent.
There are many traits linked to the millennial label, often negatively branded but will provide any business with a huge amount of value. Over the past few years, I’ve heard many comments about millennials, some positive, many negative. One I can still hear clearly in my head is “if they were sitting opposite me in an interview, I wouldn’t hire them – they look too young.”
So, where should we start when evaluating ‘millennial talent’?
Many of those applying for your open role are there to make an impact, give it their all and make a difference in the wider business – a hugely valuable trait in the much-needed revamp of procurement.
Work is closely related to personal happiness. After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours at work – feeling like what you’re doing matters will directly affect productivity.
This also means there is often a willingness/desire to take on additional projects within procurement – to open up the possibility of digitalisation, lead the sustainability efforts and partner with suppliers in creating more innovative solutions.
If procurement is to “emerge from the shadows as a key business enabler”, embracing agility and innovation, the function needs the type of talent that is not only used to quick changes but also expect this to keep the job interesting and relevant.
This isn’t all bad. Yes, it means hiring managers have to go through the recruitment process more often than we’d like but it also means much of the talent you are bringing in will have a wider range of skills from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Often those most transferable are soft skills, those we’ve repeatedly heard are missing from procurement.
Surprisingly, millennials are not going to remain in a job just because there are free drinks on a Friday evening or a games console downstairs. These additional social perks may be a huge factor when choosing between roles, but not a crucial decider.
What millennials – and likely most others – ultimately want is a sensible work/life balance. This is often the option for flexible working hours, to work from home or benefits that can add to the quality of life by reducing costs, such as health care or gym memberships – things that the majority of us already pay for to improve quality of life. Working from home is not an excuse to not work, or to hide low productivity but, instead, an element of trust bestowed upon employees while reducing commuting time. This often increases productivity and improves overall happiness.
Millennials already comprise more than half of the workforce in the UK and US. By 2030, they are expected to account for more than 75% – with a large proportion by then being the even younger generation of Generation Z. Instead of worrying about these workers, adapt with them, take advantage of their education and varied experiences and remember they don’t want to stop learning.