5 Attributes Companies Need to Attract Top Procurement Talent

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Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Kaitlyn Krigbaum, executive search consultant at MRA Global Sourcing.

When it comes to attracting top talent, there’s a lot of conflicting information about what matters most — especially around generations just entering the workforce.

Beanbag chairs and corporate swag may seem like easy ways to attract prospects, but at the end of the day, employees are looking for more than just cool stuff when shopping for a job. That was the overwhelming consensus of the recently released 2016 Universum Talent Survey, which polled more than 70,000 undergraduate students on topics such as salary expectations, career trends and what they look for in an ideal organization.

As procurement leaders consider implementing targeted hiring strategies in order to develop their talent landscapes, they should consider harnessing and promoting these five organizational attributes that more than scratch the surface.

1. Inspiring Purpose

Attractive employers offer an inspiring purpose. This doesn’t mean industries that provide life-saving products like the medical device industry are the only inspirational places to work. Professionals feel inspired spending time and attention solving problems that interest them, because this in return makes them passionate about their work. When energy and effort fill an organizational need, the result is a fulfilling career.

Allow your procurement talent to solve real problems, like working on a challenging global implementation, analyzing old contracts to find savings opportunities or collaborating with other functions to gain stakeholder buy-in. Encourage employees to find a problem and solve it, whether tactical or strategic, and you will retain them much longer.

2. Creative, Dynamic Work Environment

Long gone are the days of cubicles and desktop computers the size of the desk itself. Professionals want to thrive among forward-thinking individuals in a workplace that fosters collaboration and innovation. There should be a common goal everyone can work toward, but diversity of thought should be rewarded and encouraged.

Consider implementing meetings in which a different person leads each week to help facilitate team building and generate new solutions for hard-to-solve problems. Start holding offsite meetings in a coffee shop to change the scenery, or go to fun offsite events like sporting events or happy hours to facilitate team bonding.

Additionally, promote (and follow through with) a flexible work-life balance. Just because someone spends 12 hours in the office doesn’t mean they are any closer to solving the problem or completing the client’s assignment. Professionals are much more efficient and effective if the day eventually ends — and if they can return the next day with fresh insights and determination.

3. Respect for Employees

Intuitive, right? Wrong. Respect goes beyond following HR guidelines of workplace interactions. Respect is when you create a culture in which people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions, some of which may be game changing fresh perspectives.

When a procurement organization truly respects talent, it provides a sense of empowerment. Procurement professionals feel a sense of ownership and want to dedicate more time and energy into seeing projects through when given fluid guidance rather than an overly rigid playbook. If a manager intervenes too frequently or runs the more strategic components of a project every time, employees will lose confidence in their abilities, lose interest in the projects and ultimately lose the ability to continue growing in their career.

Respect also comes from regular and thoughtful feedback. Everyone has room to improve, and top talent will truly want to do just that, but the regularity and delivery of this feedback can make or break someone’s motivation to succeed for your organization.

That’s not to say they won’t succeed, but they will do so elsewhere. If an organization wants to attract and retain its strongest procurement talent, it will ensure its leaders and managers are meeting with their recruits to coach them on areas in which they can continue to develop their skillsets.

4. Job Security

The concept of unemployment by way of lay-offs is flashing in everyone’s head while reading this; however, the rose-colored glasses have been removed. The economic downturn of 2008 served as a reality check for professionals in the marketplace, who no longer expect a company to hire and retain them for 30-plus years.

When alluding to the importance of job security, procurement professionals are referring to the stagnation of their career growth. As talent starts a new role, it is important to consider whether there is a clear succession plan in place. Top talent in procurement wants to secure a role that will act as a launching pad, providing greater exposure, high-visibility and promotions based on merit rather than tenure.

5. Opportunities for Leadership

You may notice compensation did not make the cut for this top five list. Procurement talent recognizes that compensation will commensurate with responsibilities; therefore, the focus is on obtaining more opportunities to lead, be it projects or people.

If your organization offers lower salaries or bonuses than its top competitors, one way to counteract this is to promote a leadership fast track for high-performers. Have case studies prepared demonstrating individuals who joined the team and quickly climbed the ranks; share these stories during the interview process.

The caveat here is that the top talent knows its worth. Although the priority is providing opportunities for procurement professionals to lead, companies need to remain cognizant that they can’t make an offer far under the norm for your region and the level of the role. A balance needs to be realized between compensation and opportunities to lead.

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