Inflexible working terms could make employers say: “Good afternoon, good evening and good night.” ©Collection Christophel/Alamy Stock Photo
Inflexible working terms could make employers say: “Good afternoon, good evening and good night.” ©Collection Christophel/Alamy Stock Photo

How to stop your stars from walking out the door

18 August 2022

Staff retention is tough during talent shortages, so it pays to find the root cause of resignations.

Procurement’s ongoing talent gap is a concern for the profession, but it can be particularly frustrating for managers when team members leave without giving a reason for their departure. 

It may surprise many managers to know that factors contributing to the stay-or-leave debate often go well beyond salaries, according to the CIPS Procurement Salary Guide 2022 for the UK. Based on a survey of more than 6,000 procurement professionals, the report results indicate that while good pay is always an advantage, employees are increasingly focused on the full workplace package.

Heightening professional demand

Over the past two years, supply chain challenges such as Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have given procurement a stronger strategic voice within organisations. And greater demands on the profession mean greater demand for skilled staff.

“In a year of unwelcome records for inflation and supply chain disruptions, I can say that the competition for talent is yet another record set as the fight for key skills is fierce,” says CIPS Group chief executive Malcolm Harrison.

And this is reflected in the guide, which identifies that yet again procurement professionals in the UK are earning more than the national average. They are also enjoying higher than average pay rises – salaries have risen by 10% on average since the start of the pandemic. Yet what is good for individual employees isn’t always good for procurement departments. This wider recognition within businesses offers procurement workers a greater variety of professional opportunities – which means retaining staff has never been more difficult.

And this is evident in the guide results. For the first time ever, retaining and attracting the right people ranks within the top three challenges for both private and public-sector procurement departments. It was listed as the number one challenge by public-sector respondents.

In the current market, recruiting new people is equally tricky. Across all sectors, 63% of organisations have struggled to hire the right talent in the past 12 months, the report found. Over half of respondents (52%) with responsibility for recruiting describe it as a challenge, up from 43% last year. Difficulties are especially acute in the public sector, with 71% of employers saying they were struggling to find the right people. Competition from other organisations was identified as a challenge when it comes to recruiting by 41% of those surveyed – up from 20% last year.

Promote the positives

What is clear is that a competitive pay package may not be enough to guarantee loyalty. “In this environment of inflation and rising wages, it is not just about money. Younger professionals are increasingly looking for organisations with values that chime with their own,” says Harrison. “Those organisations focusing on ethical behaviours, sustainability goals and an improved work-life balance will attract the skills, commitment, and energy of the skilled professionals they need.”

Salary remains important, of course, but it is likely to be “one of several factors that have equal billing”, the report states. One easy win for organisations looking to stand out is to offer and explicitly promote flexible working opportunities. “When people are looking for new jobs, one of the first questions they ask is: ‘Is this a hybrid role?’ Yet, some businesses are still trying to get people to work [mainly] in the office. And they are the ones who are losing candidates,” the report adds.

The survey results suggest that offering greater flexibility across location, working hours and patterns will increase the pool of talent available to hirers. It will also boost employee engagement, loyalty and productivity.

But it’s not enough to simply put these practices in place. Employers need to promote this approach, communicating precisely how they are offering the attractive, desired options the talent is looking for, as well as how this fits with the overall vision and values – the opportunity to take a comprehensive remuneration package and become part of a company where the culture fits their needs.

“There’s been a trend towards flexible working within the profession for a number of years, but the pandemic accelerated this,” says Scott Dance, director of Hays Procurement & Supply Chain, which sponsored the study. “As all businesses try to adapt to a hybrid working model, employers need to realise that flexibility is central to attracting and retaining talent.”

Read the full CIPS Salary Guide 2022 for each global region on the CIPS website.

Brighton, East Sussex
Up to £65,262 per annum + benefits
Castlefield Recruitment
Brighton, East Sussex
Up to £47,672 per annum + benefits
Castlefield Recruitment
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