Attracting and retaining the best talent is one of biggest challenges procurement chiefs face. Talent management has consistently featured in the top ten priorities for CPOs in Procurement Leaders’ annual CPO Planning Guide, indicating how it influences their thinking each year.
The war in which CPOs fight for talent is not fought on one front. It is fought on all fronts, all of the time. Procurement executives face competition from other business units within their own companies as well as other firms and functions within its industry, as well as those in other sectors. Even if they win the recruitment battle, CPOs then face the challenge of keeping staff happy and engaged. It is these challenges that are forcing procurement chiefs to think a little bit differently.
“There can be no one-size-fits-all policy when it comes to talent management,” says Sandro Scharlibbe, CPO at Brose. “There are crucial variations between different generations and cultures. In order for us to be successful here, we have to recognise those differences and plan our approach accordingly.” It these differences that each and every member of the Advisory Board say they take into account when formulating their recruitment plans.
Danske Bank’s CPO, Eric Espinasse, are focusing attention on the journey of the function and the contribution recruits can make to that. “As a bank based largely in the Nordic region, our profile is perhaps not as global as other financial services firms. When it comes to trying to bring in new talent, we are emphasising the transformation journey we are on and the unique part they can play in moving the function to the heart of the business.” This, he says, has proved to be a big draw.
When it comes to keeping employees happy and engaged once they are working in the
function, procurement chiefs are taking a similarly innovative approach. “The real problem is boredom.
"If people get bored, especially the younger generation, they stop learning and they start thinking about leaving,” says Gregoire Letort, senior vice president of wine appliances at Electrolux who, until mid-2017, served as the company’s senior vice president and chief purchasing officer. Letort, like many other CPOs, believes procurement executives have to grasp what exactly will keep employees engaged in order to stop boredom from creeping in.
We carried out interviews with the team and we found their biggest motivators were not salary, but the freedom to make decisions
For Brose’s Scharlibbe, the key to keeping the team engaged is “rotation of jobs within the function, as well as outside of it”. Thomas Udesen, executive vice president and global head of procurement at Bayer, says he focuses on encouraging his team working on international assignments, as well as offering them rotations within the global organisation to foster engagement.
CPOs also highlight the ability to collaborate with stakeholders both inside and outside the business as a vital engagement technique, as it is empowering people to make decisions and take responsibility for those choices. “We carried out interviews with the team and we found their biggest motivators were not salary, but the freedom to make decisions,” says Scharlibbe, highlighting how important empowerment is to the younger generation.
At Electrolux, meanwhile, Letort says a reward scheme was initiated in order to improve internal collaboration. As part of this, teams vote for the best cross-functional project. This programme, he says, has helped create a “nice dynamic across the company for people to come and work together” and helped foster the desired collaborative spirit in the organisation. In an attempt to stay ahead of changing trends and understand levels of engagement with current internal programmes, a number of procurement chiefs have turned to annual staff surveys.
Many use the results of those surveys to plot future strategy and determine when and how people will be rotated within the team. Others have established advisory councils, which are led by younger members of staff and provide a forum in which employees can air their views in a more formal and structured manner. Recruiting and developing talent will always be a challenge. There will always be different needs to cater for and different skills that need to be developed.
Right now, it is about understanding what makes millennials tick and what keeps such staff engaged when it comes to their careers.
Soon, however, procurement chiefs will need to understand the generation that will follow millennials.
This group will bring with it a new set of challenges.
The key is to stay aware of those changes and be flexible enough to respond to them as required. Do that, and the function will be in a much better place to find and retain the best talent – both today and long into the future.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.