Non-traditional employees are becoming more common in procurement © Andrey Popov via Getty Images
Non-traditional employees are becoming more common in procurement © Andrey Popov via Getty Images

Why is hybrid working increasing 'sharply' in procurement?

Hybrid working is gaining increasing popularity within procurement and supply chain organisations as they scrabble for talent. 

“Shifting employment models” and “non-traditional employees” are expected to “increase sharply” in procurement and supply chain functions, according to experts. 

Gartner said offering hybrid working models within procurement and supply chain roles was essential for organisations to “remain competitive”.

A survey Gartner conducted found 61% of supply chain leaders believed the pandemic had created a permanent hybrid-working model in procurement teams, even with frontline staff. 

Suzie Petrusic, director of research with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, said: “In an environment of talent and labour shortage, supply chain leaders anticipate employee expectations to become more demanding and feel that they must prepare to meet those expectations – or lose to competitors that do.”

She added: “Companies can invest in technology to reduce their reliance on humans for frontline operational execution, where work is most inflexible, and they can find ways to increase frontline worker flexibility.”

However, she said only a small number of respondents were “currently taking the technology route”. Just over half (56%) said they were investing mainly to enable flexible work.

Gartner predicts such investments will means future supply chains will be marked by flexible workspaces and work schedules, such as part-time shifts and the possibility for employees to schedule and trade their own shifts.

Almost two-thirds (62%) said they were currently investing in providing policy and communication tools for seamless in-person and remote work relationships to aid hybrid working. 

Petrusic continued: “With shifting employment models already being explored, supply chain leaders will want to ensure they can drive empathy for these non-traditional employees. They’ll need the proper organisational structure to do so, including focused leadership roles, such as directors of remote work or robotics.”

Meanwhile, Fabrice Lebecq, partner at executive recruitment firm Heidrick & Struggles' and regional managing partner of the Industrial Practice across EMEA, said: “Within the supply chain / procurement industry, talent availability is a major issue and we think both hybrid work and on-demand talent will sharply increase in the near future to meet the talent needs in supply chain roles. Enabling hybrid working practices can widen the talent pool as it gives people more flexibility.”

Lebecq said there was a “strong correlation” between the digital maturity of a supply chain organisation and its ability to efficiently enable hybrid working. 

He continued: “It is important to bear in mind that accountability is vital in the supply chain function given the endless disruptions that businesses are facing.

“Organisations need to ensure that accountability is not diminished by new ways of working, be it hybrid or on-demand talent. The lines of accountability within teams must remain clear even if they are not together in-person full time.”

Two-fifths (42%) of employers who hire supply chain and logistics professionals said they will be offering hybrid working options to staff, according to the Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2022 guide. Just under a third (32%) said they won’t, while 26% said they were either unsure or it was under review.

For supply chain and logistics professionals, when asked if they were likely to make any career changes over the next 12 months, 39% said they were planning to look for a role that involved hybrid working. 

The opportunity for hybrid working could sway workers to switch jobs, with 61% saying they would be tempted to change jobs if an organisation was offering flexible hybrid working. 

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