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When procurement executives discuss talent, the discussion will frequently centre around how the function can attract millennials – those born between 1981 and 1994 – into the function.
While procurement chiefs focus their attentions on that generation, another is fast growing up and will soon be assuming positions in the function. They are as different to millennials as millennials are to Generation Z, bringing with them many new challenges for recruiting managers.
Generation Z refers to those born between since 1995, many of whom are now in their early twenties and beginning to enter the workforce. Like the generations that came before them, ’Gen Zers’ have different interests and needs when it comes to their careers. As such, it is essential for procurement executives to start to think about the things they need to change in order to attract, develop and retain the best candidates.
Technology grabs the attention of Generation Z. Young people want to use the latest pieces of technology during their careers, so they want to work in an organisation that is at the cutting edge and unafraid to use the latest gadgets. A study by the INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, Universum, the MIT Leadership Center and The Head Foundation, found that Generation Z was most excited about using virtual reality in the workplace.
To appeal to these demands, procurement chiefs should create an innovative, social, working environment and continue to adopt new technologies into their working practices.
A survey carried out by Barnes and Noble College found Generation Z prefers to learn and study in a collaborative environment – one where staff can fully immerse themselves in learning and development.
Procurement should play to its strengths here and utilise the fact that it collaborates closely with key stakeholders inside and outside of the business, which opens up new avenues for them to learn from others. Outside of that, the function should ensure the traditional office environment changes to be more open and collaborative.
Members of Generation Z have an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit – a mindset that can help procurement to deliver value beyond savings. Again, procurement executives should emphasise the fact the function works with suppliers as well as other divisions, such as research and development, to deliver new innovative new products when recruiting graduates.
While attracting and developing the very best talent is one of procurement’s key challenges, the function needs to think carefully about the differences between the generations to ensure everyone is comfortable and moving forward in their own personal development. Fail to keep ahead of the changes and procurement will quickly find itself at the back of the queue for talent.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.