CPOs aiming to keep staff must be 'more agile, flexible and fluid'

22 June 2022

Demand for procurement and supply professionals is outstripping supply and organisations hoping to retain staff must be more agile, flexible and fluid, a webinar was told.

The webinar gave a preview of the UK results and trends found in this year's CIPS Salary Guide – a survey of 7,000 procurement professionals globally. The webinar heard how rigid HR policies around logging on at certain specified times were likely to be “thrown away”.

The survey found risk management remained the top priority for many but 50% of respondents in the public sector said retaining staff was a key challenge, alongside 40% in the private sector.

The guide said staff retention was better in businesses that permitted more flexible working patterns.

Scott Dance, UK and Ireland engagement director for procurement, logistics and supply chain at Hays, said: “There are a lot of people looking for work. However, there are a lot of employers looking to hire people. In terms of a procurement context, the demand is far higher than the supply.

“The world is changing at great pace, and I don’t think it will stop. Those HR policies, that were written about, ‘You have to log on between this time and that time’, that were probably written about 10 years ago, they’re going to be thrown away now. And they probably won’t be referred to ever again.

“To retain your staff, you’re going to have to be more agile, flexible and fluid than you ever have been.”

Savita Mace, director of supplier management for AstraZeneca, said: “What we’re seeing here is a gap, between what employees really want, and what employers are offering. This is where us as leaders, we’re going to have to reflect on, ‘Are we really listening to the data points we’re seeing in complaints, in tribunals, in the empirical evidence? Are we listening to what employees really want – not in the exit interviews, but in the year before?’

“We have KPIs for everything, except we don’t have KPIs for incentivising people to say.” 

Also noted was a shortage of skills in the profession across all sectors and industries. The survey found 56% of employers are requiring an MCIPS qualification – however non-technical or soft skills were also in high demand. This included negotiation, influencing, internal stakeholder management, and supplier relationship management.

Malcolm Harrison, group CEO at CIPS, advised procurement professionals to become chartered, as it would built their technical skillset and refine leadership, communication, and relationship building.

UK salaries grow 4.9% this year, on the back of 5% growth last year. John Glen, CIPS economist, suggested this growth would increase into next year due to drivers including issues with staff retention.

The gender pay gap was also observed to be “heading in the right direction”, dropping from 13% last year to 6% this year at the professional level. At the advanced professional level this change was less pronounced, a drop of four percentage points from 30% to 26%.

The full CIPS Salary Guide for the UK and all world regions will be publicly available from 12 July.

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