Is job rotation the answer to procurement’s talent issue?


Talent was frequently spoken of at this year’s World Procurement Congress as an area that procurement needs to focus on, as the skill set required for the function becomes increasingly multifaceted. Speaking at the event, Biogen CPO Walter Charles emphasised this: “People need to move from being experts in one category to becoming more generalist and able to move from the category or innovation that has the biggest impact right now, to the category that will have the biggest impact within the next 100 days”. But the people able to move across different skills and tasks are not easy to find. As Procurement Leaders’ Guide To: Identifying procurement capabilities explains ‘procurement faces many challenges in recruiting, retaining and developing talent’, particularly in a world where the types of skills required of it are becoming more varied and demand a greater balance between technical and softer skills. Some organisations are turning to job rotation to train employees to fulfil this requirement.


What is job rotation?


Job rotation is a method used by businesses across a vast range of industries, whereby employees can rotate their roles within the company throughout the course of their careers. They are designed to expose employees to numerous different functions and help them obtain more diverse skills that they can take with them to the different roles.


The benefits


There are several ways a successful job rotation scheme can benefit procurement.


Job rotation schemes help build a workforce with a wide range of skills that can be used for many different tasks. They can also help team leaders identify where there are skills gaps and areas of improvement within the team, and provide training where needed.


Meanwhile, as a function that often struggles to align or make itself heard with other parts of the business, a scheme of this type can break down barriers, help procurement get to know other teams better – and how to speak to them in their language – and instil a stronger company culture.


Retention rates may also improve through job rotation. The younger workforce, in particular, are mobile in their choice of employers, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealing that employees, aged 18-35 in the US, switch employers on average after less than 2 years in a job. If there is the flexibility to change roles or departments without leaving a company, employees may be less likely to jump ship for new opportunities.


How to implement a job rotation?


While the benefits are clear, to get maximum value from a job rotation scheme it must be implemented correctly.


It is also essential that a job rotation scheme has a predetermined end goal that can be measured. This means understanding why a person’s role is being rotated in the first place. Whether it be for a potential promotion or improving an employee’s skill set, teams must know why a job rotation is needed and what it will achieve.


Employees being rotated also need to be moved into roles that are a suitable level for them to avoid them feeling over/underwhelmed. Further, they must also be rotated into roles or departments that are suitable to their career path or aims. Procurement must spend time with individual employees to understand their needs prior to rotation decisions.


Fixing the talent conundrum will never be easy but perhaps rotating staff around the business will help procurement take one step closer.


This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.

Sophie Dyer
Posted by Sophie Dyer

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