All posts by Procurious HQ

Is It Time To Retire The Office Drinks Trolley?

While after-work drinks used to be a staple of office life, new drinking trends, sobriety challenges and negative effects on mental and physical health have highlighted alternatives that better promote team building and could spell the end to “work drinks” trends.


As pubs and bars in the UK reopen their doors and many businesses head back into the office, many people will be thrilled to be finally meeting colleagues and friends for a post-lockdown drink. However, there has been a distinct change in drinking habits during quarantine, while 57% of Brits are consuming alcohol as normal, 17% say they’ve been drinking more, and 25% are actively cutting down on their alcohol consumption, according to YouGov data.

During lockdown, the government recognised mental health implications caused by the pandemic and the media helped to raise awareness and provide resources to support the public during this time. However, the ongoing impact of alcohol consumption on mental health is nothing new and is rarely addressed, even as research showed that consumption patterns changed during lockdown. As the workplace evolves with new ways of working and environments where people socialise change in response to public safety concerns, will after-work drinks become a thing of the past? We explore the relationship between alcohol and the workplace and how perhaps the pandemic has served as the catalyst for changing the way we work and help us to discover alternative ways of expressing ourselves and connecting with others.

Cocktail Culture

There is no doubt that the media’s glamourisation of alcohol, especially amongst women, has helped to normalise more frequent and heavier drinking of alcohol in work environments, at the Friday afternoon drinks trolley or ‘swift-half’ after work. Post-work drinks have been assimilated as a way to wind down after a stressful day for decades and used as a reason to build personal bonds with coworkers – even used as means to get ahead in the workplace. More formal industry events are often held on the assumption that everyone will be networking with a drink in their hand. This drinking culture not only alienates non-drinkers, but it also has a variety of negative effects on our health, both mental and physical. 

Mind & Body

In addition to the well-publicised physical health issues caused by continued alcohol consumption, such as liver disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure, there are a host of mental health issues that alcohol can also contribute to. Approximately one-third of individuals struggling with alcohol abuse also suffer from mental ill-health, and the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related behavioural disorders has risen in the last 10 years by 94% for those aged 15-59, and by 150% for people over 60. 

Alcohol is a depressant, disrupting our thoughts, wellbeing and actions in the short term, and causing long term mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and OCD. When alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for stress or as a social lubricant, it often has an adverse effect. Studies have continually linked alcohol abuse and addiction to violence, domestic incidents, and suicide, making it one of the biggest killers globally.

COVID-19 Impact 

According to pre-pandemic research by the Economic Research Council, the risk of ‘problem drinking’ is heightened when individuals are working in conditions such as: isolated away from friends and family, with extended working hours, in dangerous environments, and when we’re at risk from organisational change such as restructure or redundancy. This list makes it clear why alcohol consumption has increased during the COVID-19 crisis. Sarah Hughes, the chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said ‘Those employers that ignore the issue, or who undermine the mental health of their staff, risk not only the health of the people who work for them but the wealth of their business and the health of the economy as a whole.’

Generational Attitudes

Many people recognised the negative effects of alcohol on wellbeing long before lockdown, and this is particularly apparent in millennials (or those born between 1981-1996). According to a 2019 report, 56% of millennials consider themselves ‘mindful drinkers’ compared to only 37% of baby boomers. This has been attributed to millennials’ desire to be more conscious in all aspects of their lives, which has also contributed to a rise in vegan and cruelty-free lifestyles. 

Young professionals also benefit from hyperconnectivity and increased social media use, giving them the opportunity to instantly catch up with friends or family online rather than in person, over a drink. Virtual communities also exist online to help people in times of worry or stress, meaning they’re less likely to turn to alcohol to self-medicate. We’re also seeing a rise in ‘sober-curious’ people, who are looking to cut down on alcohol, but still enjoy an occasional drink. So, when working within a millennial team, it might be time to ditch the boozy activities in favour of more sober socials.

Alternative Activities

Luckily, it’s never been easier to drink less, with a variety of alcohol companies releasing soft drinks or 0% alcohol variations. In May 2020, during the height of the pandemic, sales of non-alcoholic beer were up 44% in the US compared to the same period in 2019.

However, alcohol-free employee activities need to be more creative than simply replacing cocktails with mocktails or switching to alcohol-free beer. After-work drinks essentially provides human connection and serves as a way of employees switching off and bonding. Here are a few alternative ways to provide that social connection which don’t revolve around alcohol, are available around the clock and are inclusive for entire organisations.

Research shows that increasing numbers of people are actively drinking less to improve their health and wellbeing, why not incorporate this into employee wellbeing social activities? Switch the drinks trolley for yoga classes, meditation, book or cinema club, cooking classes, or sports and outdoor games. All of which are more fun, release countless endorphins and provide fuel for conversation enabling employees to find out more about their colleagues, beyond what they order at the bar. 

Deeper Issues

This not only shifts the focus away from alcohol, but also acts as an opportunity for managers to dig deeper into what employees actually want to achieve from team activities. Employees may be looking to unwind and escape from the office, but is heading to the pub or offering complimentary drinks in the office just a lazy substitution for resolving wider issues such as disjointed teams or excessive workplace stress? By discovering why employees are utilising alcohol as a buffer will lead to a better understanding of their needs as both in and out of the workplace.

Navigating The Next 150 Days: Three Experts Share How to Strengthen Supply Chain Defenses

Three procurement experts share their strategies for mitigating supply chain risk during the second half of 2020.


The Economist put it best in early July: “You may have lost interest in the pandemic. It has not lost interest in you. COVID-19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt. The world is not experiencing a second wave: it never got over the first.”

This reminder rings true for procurement and supply chain leaders.

Thankfully, we are more than halfway through this disaster of a year called 2020. Let’s take stock of where things stand: At the outset of the crisis, 97% of supply chains were affected. Since then, the global supply chain has stabilized, but remains vulnerable. The virus continues to spread and economic uncertainty remains. But are we on the path to recovery? 

“It’s hard to say if we are in recovery or not,” says Nick Binks, General Manager Contracting and Procurement for Woodside Energy. “The initial crisis has passed, but we have not fully recovered. We expect to see new hurdles and obstacles pop up in our supply chain.”

riskmethods, a supply chain risk management provider, recently analysed all the risk indicators for the first half of the year. What they found was telling: In May, there was a decline in every type of supply chain risk they monitored, which cautiously signalled the start of a turnaround.  

The keyword there, of course, is cautious. riskmethods also found that the percentage of pandemic-related threats in May was still higher than January or February 2020.

“This crisis is far from over,” said Bill DeMartino, Managing Director for riskmethods North America. “The next few months are critical for building up supply chain defenses to protect against the next wave.”

Procurement’s Second Half Focus: Supplier Health and Risk Awareness

What’s the best way for procurement and supply chain leaders to strengthen defenses through the end of 2020?

Naomi Lloyd, the Director Procurement Asia Pacific for Campbell Arnott’s, recommends keeping a pulse on the big picture. “Be conscious of the entire market. You may be experiencing strong demand now, but someone else in your network may experience a drop in demand or disruption. Everything is connected,” said Lloyd.

DeMartino agrees: “Determining your critical supply chain dependencies is a must during the recovery process.”

The financial roller coaster we’re experiencing also bears watching. According to riskmethods, financial distress of suppliers was 105% higher in May than at the beginning of the crisis, signaling there’s more damage to come.

“Getting an accurate read on supplier health is always a challenge. Traditionally, we would qualify a supplier’s financial viability, and then set it and forget it,” said Binks. “Now we are regularly checking and monitoring.”

Becoming a more risk-aware enterprise is an essential step in the recovery and resilience process, according to riskmethods. Supply chain and procurement leaders can take different steps to make that happen, depending on what their business is experiencing right now. Specifically,

–          During crisis, dedicate additional resources to risk management

–          During recovery, expand the importance of risk in decision making

–         While operating in the new normal, elevate the role of risk preparedness by uniting stakeholders across the enterprise

“Risk has always been a KPI on our procurement scorecard, but pre-COVID, no-one really took much interest in it within the business,” said Lloyd. “Now, risk management has been elevated. We’re holding weekly cross-functional meetings to openly identify and discuss what’s happening on the risk front. Procurement leads these meetings, but everyone is involved: quality, engineering, planning, operations, finance, R&D, sales, and more. This puts risk front and center for everyone.”

The next five months will fly. The onus is on procurement and supply chain teams to ensure operations don’t crash.

Listen to Bill DeMartino, Nick Binks, Naomi Lloyd and Tania Seary in our latest webinar – The Risk Report – Now streaming in the Supply Chain Crisis group

My Pay Has Been Cut. What Should I Do Next?

Has your pay been cut due to COVID? Here’s what to do if it has. 


There’s no doubt that the economic effects of the coronavirus have been significant, with job losses being so severe that many countries  are comparing this situation to the Great Depression.  But for those of us who have fortunately retained our jobs, the effects have still been felt. Namely, many of us in numerous industries from professional services to education may have had to have some uncomfortable conversations. And those conversations may have involved taking a pay cut. 

Right now, we may all just be grateful to have a job, and besides, with quasi-lockdowns and travel bans still in place for much of the world, we may simply not need as much disposable income. But looking into the future, how happy will we be that we’re now working for less? How long will it take for wages to revert to ‘normal?’ Should we ask for a raise anytime soon? 

To help answer all of your burning questions about pay, we spoke to Stella Voules, Director and Co-CEO of JOST&Co., a HR and change management consultancy. But before we bring you Stella’s insights, here’s a high-level rundown of the industrial relations set up in each of our major member countries that govern pay cuts: 

Can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Is it even legal for your organisation to ask you to take a pay cut? It depends on where you live. Here’s the different laws for the US, UK and Australia. 

In the USA, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Legally, yes. Pay cuts are allowed, as long as they aren’t done on a discriminatory basis (for example, they haven’t your pay because of your gender). A pay cut due to COVID is legal, and all your employer needs to do is notify you of the same. If you do have an individual employment contract or union employment contract, you may be protected from pay cuts, depending on your conditions. 

After they cut your pay, your employer does not have any obligation to return it to its pre-COVID levels. 

In the UK, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

No If your employer does want or need to reduce your pay, they need to obtain your consent. 

If they don’t first obtain your consent, you are entitled to resign, initiate a claim against your employer, or continue to work in your job while also initiating a claim for compensation. 

If your employer does ask you to take a pay cut, you are also entitled to refuse. But if you do this, your employer may be able to terminate your employment contract and try to offer you a new one with varied conditions and pay. 

If your employer is changing the pays of multiple people within your organisation, they are also legally obliged to consult with your relevant trade union. 

In Australia, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Usually, no. A reduction in pay is classified as a variation in your employment conditions, so you and your organisation must first agree on the changed terms before the change is made. You have the right to refuse a change in pay, and if your organisation terminates your employment on account, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal. 

Yet although your organisation can’t force you to take a pay cut, there may still be pressure to do so if you fear you will otherwise lose your job. 

If I’ve taken a pay cut due to COVID, when should I expect my pay to return to pre-pandemic levels? 

The legals of pay cuts are rather black and white. Yet as many of us know, employment is very much a relationship, and given the strain that coronavirus has put on so many businesses, many of us are feeling both empathetic towards our employer, and grateful to be in a job at all. These feelings may have encouraged us to agree to pay cuts – for now. But when can we expect our pays to go back to normal? 

Stella Voules says that that is a very big question, and the answer isn’t as simple as we’d like: 

‘Your pay cut “end date” may depend on the instrument used to change your pay in the first place, for example what was in your contract or what your union negotiated. In some cases, an end date may have been specified.’ 

‘But given that the pandemic has no end date, it’s likely that your pay cut may be ongoing.’ 

Stella says employees who have had their pay cut should have done so on certain conditions, and those conditions may have included entering into a new, temporary agreement. If you don’t think this has happened to you, though, Stella advises seeking legal advice from an employment lawyer and your union to understand in more detail what you’ve agreed to. 

If my pay cut was undefined in its length, what signs should I look out for from my employer’s perspective that might indicate my pay would be restored? 

If you’ve taken a pay cut with no defined end date, you might be worried about when your pay will be reinstated. Will it be when the pandemic is declared over? Or will it be when the economy has completely bounced back? 

Unfortunately, much like the pandemic end date, there may be no definite point in time or event which will signal that your pay should be restored. But if you are concerned, there’s a few things you can look out for, says Stella: 

‘Just like in “normal” times, knowing what you should be paid is about watching the market. Look at job ads, ask around, see what other people at other organisations like yours are being paid.’ 

‘Within your organisation, there’s also a few things you can do. For example, look at the revenues of your business, ask for their annual report, see how they’re performing financially.’ 

If an organisation is still in financial distress, says Stella, it will be difficult for them to reinstate pays. And even if they aren’t in distress, they may be taking a conservative approach as no one really knows how the pandemic will play out. But if, and only if, it’s clear that your organisation has returned to its previous level of profitability, then you may start asking questions about your pay. 

How do I go about asking for a pay rise, if my pay has been cut? 

Asking for a payrise is never easy. But in pandemic times, it’s even harder. How do you know if it’s appropriate to ask? How do you do so in a way that doesn’t seem greedy and selfish, especially if your organisation has suffered financially? 

Just like for any pay rise discussion, Stella says, you need to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Research what’s happening in your sector, and what’s happening within your specific category and job role. Understand whether there’s strong demand and have a good idea of pay benchmarks. Only then should you have any sort of pay conversation. 

Yet benchmarking your role in terms of pay is only the first step, Stella says. In order to have any type of pay conversation in COVID or even post-COVID times, you also need to know the  following: 

  1. How well your company is performing financially 
  2. How well you’ve performed in your role 
  3. What your unique skills and capabilities are, and value you personally bring to the company. 

Armed with this information (and assuming it’s all positive), Stella says that you can reasonably request a pay review. 

What should I do if my request for a pay rise is declined? 

Asking for a pay rise is one thing. But getting one is entirely another, especially at the moment. So if your pay has been cut, at what point should you consider looking elsewhere? 

Given the circumstances, Stella says, you should try to be fair to your employer by not looking elsewhere straight away, especially if they’ve been loyal and supportive throughout the pandemic. Beyond this, Stella believes that anyone concerned about pay right now should consider the bigger picture: 

‘If you don’t get your pay rise, remember that reward is so much bigger than pay. So perhaps you can’t get more money right now, but what about more flexibility? Or more opportunities, perhaps some different benefits?’ 

‘Give your employer a chance to find a way to keep you satisfied before looking elsewhere. Remember, the grass is not always greener.’ 

Have you taken a COVID-related pay cut? Has your pay been restored yet or do you know when it will? Let us know in the comments below.

CPO Digital Forum: Crown Resorts And IKON Services

A clean start: tips and tricks for corporates to create a COVID-safe workplace.


One of the biggest misconceptions out there right now is that cleaning is booming, says Estelle Lewis, who is the group executive general manager for partnerships at cleaning services and hygiene products company IKON Services.

The company, which provides cleaning services and hygiene products to a number of blue chip clients, including Crown Resorts, has been on a difficult journey.

A big challenge has been accessing accurate information and ensuring it’s disseminated to staff and clients, she says.

“People turn to cleaning companies as the experts about COVID-19, but the reality is that this has sort of hit us all very quickly and none of us have really had time to sort of take in what this virus actually means for all of these businesses.

“We’re learning while our clients are learning, but we need to be that one step ahead,” Lewis says.

The Group General Manager of Procurement and Supply Chains, Ben Briggs admits he’s had similar challenges at Crown Resorts, with approximately 16,000 staff and contractors regularly on site.

“Reopening a Casino will have its challenges. It’s probably one of the most difficult things to do because you don’t typically reopen, you’re always open,” Briggs says.

“So we have to understand how to create a safe working environment for people, staff and patrons as part of the reopening phase.

“There’s a lot of human elements that we’re going to have to work through over the next couple of months to make sure that we can create a safe working environment at Crown,” he says.

As people get back to work, there’s going to be a level of comfort around the fact that we’re getting back to normal. But we need to be reminded that it’s a ‘new normal’ and a complex space, the pair agree.

The pair opened up about some of the 7 biggest challenges for companies looking to create a Covid-safe work environment:

1. Public confidence

A key priority right now is looking for ways to make the public need to feel safe about returning, so a lot of work needs to go into messaging, Briggs says.

“It will be a different working environment and a different operating environment. You may see thermal scanners at entry points, limited access points into the casino, furniture removed so that we can create social distancing and all the communication that needs to go along with that so that people feel safe,” he says.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m pretty confident that with the measures we’re putting in place, people are going to feel safe to come back to the property and come back and enjoy our facilities again,” he says.

Briggs admits he’s been dubbed ‘The Sanitiser Guy’ and ‘The Sneeze Guard Man’ by his colleagues as he looks to overhaul Crown.

“Where practical be such as hotel reception desks, we’re putting sneeze guards up. There’s sanitisation stations everywhere you go. People are going to have access to masks and sanitisation,” he says.

2. Visual reminders

Visual reminders in the form of signs and messages are being erected throughout properties and visual reminders added to flooring to keep people apart.

Making sure that hand sanitisers and wipes are available to all for staff to clean down their environments when they come and go will be crucial, Briggs adds.

Remote working will also be crucial, because we are unlikely to get all the 15,000 people back to work in the same space. We’re going to have to be smart about it. “Assessing which roles can work remotely, how we structure the work environment to enable appropriate distancing and which roles are operational and are needed on the ground will require some finessing,” he adds.

Lewis adds that she’s looking at sourcing a piece of sophisticated technology with an LSD screen to allow customer communication that allows you to add COVID-19 messages and takes temperatures at reception points is on the cards for clients.

3. Communal kitchens

The communal kitchen was once a place where food, coffee and great conversation takes place in offices, but that looks set to be a thing of the past, Lewis says.

Communal plates, cutlery, glassware and the shared office fruit bowl is on the chopping block.

“Kitchens are also a tricky space from a cleaning perspective. It could be an area where fogging works really well, which is a mist spray that works well for tight spaces. The high grade chemical concentrate mist helps get into corners and edges where viruses can live, which I’d recommend doing on a regular basis,” Lewis says.

And while there a plethora of new cleaning companies entering the market offering fogging and sanitisation, businesses need to ensure they engage companies that stand for trust and integrity.

4. The boardroom

Board meetings will be a very different function within a business. The room will be transformed to adhere to social distancing, with every second chair removed, access to wipes and additional bins for wipes to prevent the spread of germs. Hand sanitiser will also be added to the room.

People will be expected to take responsibility for their own hygiene, and report any symptoms if they’re feeling unwell and stay home, Briggs says.

5. Vulnerable workers

Vulnerable workers who are considered high risk require special consideration in the workplace, Briggs says.

It’s about putting enough protections in place for them so they feel safe and willing to come back into the office. A perspex screen and floor markings to encourage social distancing perspective so that people have their own space will be crucial.

“Adapt our workplace policies and processes to ensure they are safe and their workspace is a safe haven will be crucial. Reporting and compliance is also important,” Briggs adds.

6. Response plan

Creating a rapid response process that provides specific measures for closing down in the event of an outbreak is crucial, Briggs says.

The rapid response plan ensures properties are closed down and reopened swiftly, which also needs to be part of a training regime for staff and enforced, he says.

7. Clean desks

The traditional desk station is being overhauled, while hot desking has been abandoned in corporate settings around the world.

While people will continue to be encouraging people so work from home, if they do need to come into work, each personal workspace will need to be kept tidy and minimalistic so surfaces can be cleaned is paramount, Briggs says.

“It’s about keeping those practices up so that we don’t get comfortable and lazy in the area that things have gone back to normal so that we can go back to our previous behaviours,” Briggs says.

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How To Navigate Office Politics (Without Selling Your Soul To The Devil)

How do you play office politics to your advantage? Here’s four skills you’ll need to do so. 


Let’s face it, no one, bar perhaps a few actual psychopaths, goes to work because they love the politics of it. In fact, toxic office politics is often cited as one of the key reasons people quit, and is also associated with low levels of engagement and productivity, and on the more serious side, mental health issues and stress complaints. Does this mean that politics should be avoided altogether? 

Absolutely not. 

Whether you like it or not, office politics are unavoidable. Even worse, if you do choose to try and avoid them, there’s a lot at stake. In most offices, politics are akin to the workplace’s unwritten rules, and they have the power to dictate how people should act, who gets promoted, and ultimately who enjoys career success and who doesn’t. Many successful people will tell you that politics can be even more important than merit – so it’s important to understand how to play them to your advantage. 

Yet for many of us, politics and ‘playing the game’ feels like a dirty concept. Is there a way that we can advance our own interests without making our colleagues collateral damage? In other words, is there a way to play the game without selling our soul? 

Knowing the difference between good and bad politics 

Although many people inherently think of office politics as a bad thing, political scientist and cultural researcher Harold Laswell doesn’t believe they have to be. In fact, Laswell encourages all people to think about politics as simply ‘the way things are done around here’ in any particular environment, and as such, know the difference between what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ politics might entail. 

In any organisation, and in any role, a degree of self-promotion in order to advance interests is needed. Good politics, then, is where you do so, but not at the expense of others or your organisation’s legitimate interests. For example, good politics may involve strategically making connections with important stakeholders or deliberating making an effort to better engage C-suite executives. Good politics, otherwise known as being savvy, well-networked, influential, an intelligent communicator and even a little charismatic, serve a higher purpose in that they help you get ahead – but don’t sacrifice others in the meantime. 

Bad politics are the opposite of this, though, and something we’ve all been a victim of. Bad politics are when you backstab, create rumours, or do something that you’d otherwise consider sneaky and immoral in order to advance your position. In other words, you advance yourself by sacrificing someone else. Bad politics feels bad because it is – and no amount of telling yourself that it’s “worth it” or they “deserved it” should help you feel better. Unfortunately, bad politics can help you get ahead, but the success that ensues is often short-lived. 

In reality, bad politics co-exists alongside good politics in most organisations. But in the best organisations, bad politics are stamped out and only good politics remain. And if you’re able to hone your good political skills, success can easily be yours. 

Honing your political skills 

The politics of the office are a far-cry from the politics of Downing Street or the White House. Yet are the skills required to play office politics that different? Not really. Here’s what culture researcher Gerald Ferris recommends are the essential skills make office politics work for you: 

  1. Social astuteness: Social astuteness is the next step beyond one of the most essential workplace traits: self-awareness. When you’re socially astute, you’re not just aware of yourself and your own strengths and weaknesses, but you’re also aware of how others perceive you and how your behaviour impacts them. For example, if you’re socially astute you’ll understand that Karen from HR doesn’t think too highly of procurement, and you’ll be proactively working to change that. 
  1. Interpersonal influence: We’ve talked extensively here at Procurious about why influence is important and we’re not going to stop anytime soon because it’s so true – your interpersonal influence is everything. Influence, defined as your ability to affect how and what others think, is essential in managing politics. But before you dive in to influencing your own agenda at work, it’s important to understand others and specifically, what their preferences and goals are. This way, you can personalise your approach to exact the greatest level of influence. 
  1. Exceptional networking: Networking skills are another of Procurious’s favourite topics for good reason – they are essential to success. As we’ve always maintained though, networking within an organisation needs to be a two-way street, and you need to ensure that you’re creating mutually beneficial relationships with people with whom you expect support from. 
  1. Sincerity: Politics has received such a bad rap before because people think it’s inherently dishonest. But to the contrary, good politics requires sincerity, honestly, and openness (or at least the appearance thereof, where complete transparency isn’t possible). If people around you perceive you as sincere, they’re more likely to trust and believe in you, which can help with advancing your cause. 

Politics may well be a dirty word, yet the outcome of playing good politics certainly is not. A plethora of research shows that having the above mentioned skills enhances not only job performance and satisfaction, but influence, salary, opportunities and advancement. So even if politics has never been your game, it’s time to participate to the best of your ability – your career success depends on it. 

What has been your experience with office politics? Do you typically see more bad politics than good politics? Let us know in the comments below.

5 Traits You’ll Need To Succeed At Contracting

What traits are required to succeed as a contractor? Here are the 5 must-haves.


For those of us that have only ever had full-time, permanent jobs, the idea of contracting may seem scary or strange. Why put yourself through all that uncertainty? What do you do when it ends? What if you fall in love with the company but can’t stay? These are the many questions that we might ask ourselves. And given the current economic climate, now might be time to start seeking the answers. But as it turns out, contracting is the answer to much more than those questions.  

At various times throughout our careers, whether it’s because of a global pandemic, a recession, an industry disruption or the fact that we’re just plain burnt out, we may decide or be forced to include contracting or consulting in our work histories. Contracting can have so many benefits that we may never have considered, for example, they allow us to experience new projects and challenges, forge new connections, and trial businesses and bosses to ensure they’re the right fit. Having the breadth of experience can also make us more marketable and hireable, and expanding our network can help us access ever more opportunities.  

In other words, contracting can be a great career asset – especially post COVID, as there will be more contracting opportunities than ever. Yet at the same time, contracting isn’t for everyone. So how do you know whether it’s for you? Here’s five traits you’ll need to succeed at contracting: 

Trait #1: The ability to influence others

Having placed hundreds of successful contractors over his nearly three decade career as a supply chain recruiter, Tim Moore, President of Tim Moore and Associates, believes that there is one trait that is, without doubt, the most important trait you’ll need to succeed as a contractor. And that trait is the ability to influence others. He says: 

‘As a contractor or consultant, you’re called in to solve issues. It could be relatively minor, involving a single department or concern, or it could be monumental and systematic, affecting the entire company. The bottom line is that fixing it is up to YOU.’ 

Given the focus on fixing things, many people mistakenly think that good qualifications and good experience count for more when you’re contracting. But that certainly hasn’t been Tim’s experience: 

‘Time and time again I’ve seen a great candidate, someone highly educated with a Masters degree, several professional delegations and years of dedicated experience, I’ve seen them not succeed at all at contracting.’ 

‘These people may have great potential on paper, yet they’re not totally effective because of a lack of ability to communicate and ultimately influence others.’ 

But what does totally effective look like? It’s certainly a high bar, Tim believes: 

‘As a contractor, if you can’t elicit the burning desire, conviction and approval of others toward a common vision, goal or operating solution, no amount of planning, networking or knowledge will suffice.’ 

‘You need to be able to influence others in an effective manner, not through coercion, but by projecting and justifying a vision or solid course of action toward an acceptable solution.’ 

Trait 2: The ability to create trust

Being as persuasive as Tim describes can certainly feel like a tall order. But it isn’t as hard as it seems, if you possess another trait which is essential in contracting and that is: the ability to create trust. 

Trust is the backbone of all good relationships and as such, the more you focus on it and deliberately work to develop it, the easier it will be to influence others. But how do you create trust? There are a few specific things you can do, Tim says: 

‘If you’re looking to create trust, it’s so important to “walk the talk.” Be honest with your communication and with all of your decisions and motives … even if it’s bad news, unfavourable, or a tough decision.’ 

‘Consistency is also important. Be reliable and supportive.’ 

As great as this all sounds, any of us who have worked in challenging cultures or with difficult stakeholders know that it can be easier said than done! But that’s all part of the challenge of being trustworthy and influential, Tim believes. And realistically, it may involve overcoming previously held fears: 

‘As a consultant or contractor, you can bring fresh perspectives. Yet still it can be scary to speak up, especially if it’s an unpopular perspective or contrary to the status quo.’ 

Tim likens this fear to the famous story, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. In the story, two weavers promise an emperor new clothes, but say that they will be ‘invisible’ to people who are incompetent or unfit for their positions. In reality, the weavers make no clothes at all, but when the emperor parades his clothes, everyone, fearful for their jobs and status, are too afraid to say anything. In the end a child, who doesn’t share the same fear, cries out ‘but he isn’t wearing anything!?!”

For Tim, an exceptional contractor is one who plays the role of the child in challenging situations: 

‘The difference between a good contractor and an exceptional one is the ability to tell the truth to power … regardless of popular opinion.’ 

Trait 3: The ability to convey empathy 

By now, you’re probably pretty clear on the fact that as a contractor, you’ll need to influence others by first gaining their trust, which, in many cases, may involve breaking with the status quo. But for any of us that have tried to do this, we know that it’s often not well received. Is there a better way, then, to share unsavoury views and opinions? 

There is, according to Tim. And the secret is empathy. 

‘When you speak the truth without empathy, especially when it’s critical in nature, it can be non-productive and can build barriers to creating trust and influence. You must develop the ability to detect other’s emotions and understand their perspective, whether right or wrong.’ 

‘Being non-judgemental and listening enables others to feel accepted and understanding where they are coming from validates their opinion.’ 

To convey empathy, you always need to listen before you speak. And to get the information you need to convey empathy, you may need to dig a little deeper than simply asking for your stakeholder’s opinions, Tim says: 

‘You can convey empathy only after you truly understand your stakeholders. And to do this, you need to ask them about their priorities and preferences, you need to understand their motivations and how they fit into the project you’re working on.’ 

‘In order to garner this deeper understanding, make sure you give stakeholders your full attention. Simple things like eye contact and ensuring you’re not multitasking show that you respect them.’ 

Trait 4: The ability to research properly and fully engage others

As a contractor, you’re often in the hot seat when it comes to solving problems and giving advice. And given your experience, you should be. But does this mean that you should go in guns ablazing and start firing off your expertise before doing your research and engaging others?  

Absolutely not. 

In fact, according to Tim, the fourth critical trait you’ll need as a contractor is the ability to fully engage with your stakeholders and proactively seek opinions and information before you make any judgement. Prior to positing any solution, you should ensure you’ve identified and fully explored all available options. 

Doing your research in this sense in so important, so when you’re active listening, ensure that you’re also engaged, says Tim: 

‘Engaging others is NOT a spectator sport. You have to get involved, get to the root of the problem, and do so in a non-threatening manner. It’s only then that you can seize the opportunity to educate others about your supply chain perspective and responsibilities.’

Trait 5: Being an expert in your profession

Have you noticed a trend with the traits we’ve listed above? Yes, you’re correct – they are all ‘soft’ skills, which, especially in the brave new world of procurement and supply chain that is starting to emerging post-COVID, are particularly important. 

Given the complexity of our profession, though, naturally one final trait is important, and that is: the ability to be an expert in our profession. And when it comes to contracting, it’s important to figure out exactly what you’re an expert in. To do this, Tim recommends reflecting on your last couple of work assignments and asking yourself the following yourself what you might be known for: 

‘Of everything you’ve achieved, there’s probably one or two things you’ve performed particularly well in. Perhaps you’re really good at cost savings, negotiating, or transitioning legacy IT systems to  leading edge capabilities. Whatever it is, pick a couple and run with them.’ 

Contracting skills = career assets

As the world begins the slow recovery from the pandemic, there will be more and more contracting opportunities as businesses look to hire in specialist skills and undertake new and exciting projects. So even if you’ve never contracted before, now could be the time to give it a try, as you’re likely to be able to garner some unique experiences, and perhaps even career-defining opportunities. 

Regardless of the opportunities, though, one thing is for sure: the traits you’ll need to succeed as a contractor are equally important in any role, so developing them in any way you can will represent a distinct career advantage. 

What other traits do you think are required to succeed as a contractor? Let us know in the comments below. 

Suppliers: Who And Where Are Your 1%?

You might think that your most strategic suppliers are the ones you spend the most with. But supply chain crises may shine a light on which suppliers are actually strategic.


Modern-day supply chains are truly global, highly complex and getting longer and longer. 20 years ago, most of a company’s suppliers were probably within a very short radius. Today they could be on the other side of the world.

The reality is that organisations have more difficulty than ever keeping track of their entire supply chain – from Tier 1 all the way down to the smallest supplier organisations. This poses enough challenges for organisations when it comes to issues like environmental performance or modern slavery, let alone with supply chain efficiency or continuity of supply.

With so many suppliers to keep track of, organisations have to make decisions about who their strategic suppliers really are. Traditionally, organisations (and their procurement departments) have fixated on the suppliers with the largest spend volumes. In reality, they should be most concerned about a supplier’s risk profile.

This risk profile is thrown into light at times of crisis in global supply chains. This may come from volcanic eruptions disrupting global flights and travel, or from a global pandemic, such as COVID-19.

What Does the 1% Look Like?

All suppliers are unique, bringing different things to an organisation beyond the goods and services they provide. When assessing which suppliers to manage as ‘strategic’, procurement departments have traditionally focused on their visible suppliers. This usually is defined by spend profile and determined using traditional methods such as the Pareto 80:20 principle.

However, it’s the less visible, hidden suppliers that are often the most strategic. These are the 1%.

This group is made up of the suppliers who are easiest to ignore as they supply something low-cost and apparently trivial to the organisation. In truth, this trivial component may be manufactured from an expensive or rare raw material, be a proprietary item, or come from a supplier who has a monopoly or dominance in the market. Despite this item costing very little, the likelihood is that it is difficult, if not impossible to replace. This makes the potential impact on the supply chain huge should the supplier fail to deliver.

Assessing these suppliers using another procurement favourite, the Kraljic Matrix, they would fall into the ‘non-critical’ or ‘bottleneck’ categories (see below).

Figure 1 – Kraljic Matrix via Forbes.com

However, in many cases, the risk aspect of supply is downplayed or removed entirely, leaving the focus solely on profitability. This is where the issues with your 1% lie.

The Role of Technology

In times of supply chain crises, every supplier – even your ‘transactional’ and ‘bottleneck’ suppliers – need the same attention in order to ensure you’re not missing something. What may have once seemed like an impossible and highly inefficient task has been aided considerably by the advancements in procurement solutions and technology.

Organisations have gone from a reliance on their transactional systems, such as their ERP, and the knowledge and experience of their procurement teams to manage their suppliers. This has left organisations exposed through a lack of data to define and manage strategic suppliers, as well as the loss of knowledge when people leave to join another organisation.

Procurement technology and solutions have developed to the extent that they can help provide the necessary foundation for tracking an entire supply base. This has moved the profession from a position of weakness, to a position of strategic responsibility. In the current climate, people are now actively talking about supply chains and procurement’s role now and in the future.

Therefore, the profession cannot undermine itself by failing to manage its 1% effectively. Even big organisations, with highly developed supply chains can be caught out, as we can see below.

Real World #1 – Keeping Supplies Zipped Up Tight

The fashion industry has taken some very public, very high-profile hits for its supply chain. Organisations have a uniquely complex situation to contend with – finding suppliers who are flexible, reactive and usually low cost on one hand, while on the other ensuring that the highest ethical standards are still achieved.

Suppliers can frequently be small, family-owned and geographically challenging too. However, you might consider an everyday item on many items of clothing a product of a 1% supplier – the zip.

You might overlook it, but a zip is a critical item for manufacturers and designers. The market is dominated by two major suppliers, YKK and SBS, but there are other players there too. However, the majority of these are geographically focused in Asia – specifically Japan and China. Switching supply is unlikely to be easy, so all it takes is a supply chain crisis in this region, say a lack of key raw materials or alloys for production, and supply could be disrupted, without viable alternatives.

Low value compared to other items in the fashion design process, but very high risk.

Real World #2 – Bearing the Risk

Manufacturing is another industry with highly complex and multi-layered supply chains to manage. In automotive manufacturing, supply chains have moved towards the ‘Just-in-Time’ method pioneered by Toyota, making continuity of supply and supplier reliability critical at all times. It’s no use having 99% of the parts available to use, when the 1% is stuck in its factory, two tiers down your supply chain.

As such, a greater focus on quality over price is required, but even this is not fool proof. Fiat Chrysler announced in February that it was halting production at one of its factories in Serbia as it couldn’t get parts from China. Manufacturers who would traditionally hold minimal stock to remain competitive and agile are faced with a situation where that very strategy could pose a huge risk to their organisation.

As the impact of COVID-19 related factories closures around the world continues to grow, even large manufacturers may actually stock out before there’s a chance to re-align. And these items could be as simple as ball bearings for wheels – very low value, but huge risk at this time.

De-risking the 1%

Is there a solution that overworked procurement professionals can take advantage of in the face of a supply chain crisis? When it comes to supplier risk, there are a number of actions that may be taken immediately in order to reduce this.

According to KPMG, these can include setting up a response team to manage the flow of information across key stakeholder groups, reviewing key contracts with customers and suppliers to understand liability in the event of shortages, and conducting a full risk assessment to provide a list of actions to take, which may include shortening supply chains and assessing alternative options.

In the long-term, however, the focus needs to be more on supplier management and the creation of truly ‘strategic’ relationships, built on risk profiles rather than value. This should be done across the entire supply chain and aim to go down through the various Tiers that exist in it. This is defined as ‘Holistic Supplier Management’, a concept explored in more detail by JAGGAER in their latest whitepaper.

JAGGAER’s research uses a similar model to the Kraljic Matrix for supplier positioning, but with the key difference that it focuses on risk and cost to the business (rather than cost of supply) in the event of supplier failure.

Figure 2 – JAGGAER Supplier Positioning Matrix

A concept is all very well but being able to deliver Holistic Supplier Management and manage suppliers on risk and cost requires being able to access data on current performance, the impact of an individual supplier on your organisation, as well as the value that they deliver. This is where technology comes to the aid of procurement and it’s what is offered within the JAGGAER Supplier Management solution.

The solution not only provides the data and analysis that is required by procurement for key decision-making, but also gives a deeper understanding of suppliers to help construct better contracts that deliver greater value to the organisation. By using technology like this, procurement can effectively and efficiently de-risk their supply chains, keeping them better prepared for managing crises when they inevitably hit.

Don’t Get Caught Out

The key message, as every procurement professional knows, is that good communication is key to maintaining a strong and stable supply chain. However, as supply chains grow more and more complex, geographically dispersed and multi-tiered, individual procurement professionals and departments need to make use of all the resources at their disposal.

Holistic Supplier Management can help procurement be better prepared, mitigate risks and start to understand what strategic procurement and strategic suppliers really are. You can find more information on the JAGGAER website, or by downloading their latest whitepaper, ‘How To Achieve Holistic Supplier Management: Orchestrating Supplier Management for Maximum Benefit’.

No matter how safe you think you are, how stable you believe your supply chain is and how strong your links are with your strategic suppliers, there is always an inherent risk within that 1%. By being better prepared and truly understanding your supply chain, you can avoid being caught out in time of crisis.

Finding Your Voice: Writing Brilliant Blogs

When done right, creating content can be an amazing tool to grow your personal brand. So, what makes brilliant thought leadership content? Let’s take a look…


Do you dream of being the world’s number one procurement influencer or one of our profession’s Gamechangers.  Well, blogging is an important step in raising your profile.  Here’s how to find your voice…

On the internet, content is king. So wrote Microsoft founder Bill Gates in an influential and still oft-quoted essay in 1996. Content informs and entertains. It can move people to action, whether that’s visiting a different website, buying a product or service or changing their thinking and behaviour. It is enormously powerful, done right.

But with millions of pieces of content added to the internet daily (four million videos are uploaded to YouTube every day, to give just one example!) how can you as a procurement professional stand out?

Start with these top tips for finding your voice, building your personal brand and creating brilliant thought leadership content online…

Who are you?

You might think that’s an easy question to answer. But when you’re considering your online presence, it requires a bit more thinking to create a personal and professional brand that will help you stand out from the crowd and be seen as influential and credible. Ask yourself the following questions:

What do I want to be known for?

Who is my audience?

What is my unique selling point? Why should people listen to me?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you’ll have a clearer idea of the topics you should create content on, the style of content you want to create and also the kind of things you want to stay away from. You can’t do everything, so pick your niche and stick to it.

Know your angles

Any content you create needs to have an angle. If you’re writing a blog post or thought leadership article, your angle is the clear theme or point that you want your readers to take away from your piece. An article without an angle is unfocused, unclear and uninteresting.

The best way to identify your angle is to think about the headline of your piece. How can you best sum up your idea into a short, compelling statement that will make people want to read the whole piece? Often a good idea is to answer a question that people might have or to offer a series of tips. For example: ‘How to build brilliant stakeholder relationships remotely.’ ‘Five creative ways to make cost savings in indirect procurement.’

Writing great copy

So you’ve got your angle, how do you write a great post? When it comes to online content, the best approach is to keep it short (fewer than 1,000 words unless you’ve designated it a ‘long read’), punchy and accessible. Our attention spans are getting shorter by the year – thanks internet! – and people do not have the patience to engage with overly long and complex material online. Break up your article with sub-heads, use bullet points or pull out a few top tips at the end.

If it’s getting too long and complicated, why not break it up into a series of pieces? This will also encourage people to keep coming back to you for insight.

And it might seem obvious, but remember to proofread your work. Your ideas might be fantastic but you’ll be far less credible if your pieces are riddled with spelling errors and misplaced apostrophes!

Keep it consistent

Consistency is a critical pillar of building trust, and you want to be a trusted voice and expert on your chosen topic. Being consistent means committing to putting out content regularly – not spamming people but making sure you are continuing to put out a regular stream of interesting and insightful pieces. If you are starting to blog, you can’t just post something every six months. Instead commit to at least once a month.

Consistency also relates to your voice and subject matter expertise. People should know what to expect from you. That doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up and be creative, but don’t just write about something for the sake of it or because everyone else is doing it. Being consistent means being genuine, authentic and true to yourself and what you stand for.

Know your channels

If a procurement professional writes a blog, but no one reads it, was it even worth writing? Think about the channels you can use to amplify your voice. Twitter and LinkedIn are great tools to publicise your work but also to ensure you are consistently sharing relevant content by others that relates to your interests and the personal brand you have created. Using a platform like Procurious is great because it has a readymade engaged audience eager for insightful content.

And think about format as well as channel. Is written content best for this message or could you get creative with video or audio? Should you embed infographics or imagery? Have fun with it and your audience will enjoy it as well.

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

5 Ways To Stay Connected During COVID-19

We all know networking and creating connections with the people around us is important, but how do we do at the moment? Here’s how. 


Any successful person will tell you that it isn’t what you know, but who you know that gets you ahead. Forging new connections and fostering existing connections can help you broaden your horizons, discover new opportunities, and even secure a much sought-after promotion. Often though, creating these important relationships happens in person. Whether it be via a kitchen chat at your workplace or at an industry-specific event, great connections often start with a personal conversation, a handshake and perhaps an impromptu coffee. 

Yet unfortunately, with the world the way it is at the moment, the face-to-face option is not appropriate and in many places in the world, not even possible. So does this mean that networking needs to stop? Certainly not. Here’s five creative ways to stay in touch with your connections, new and old, without ever having to shake a hand.

1. Check in people in your network 

Given that demand for mental health services have soared worldwide, from a care perspective, there’s every reason to check in on people within your network, and a number of ways you can engage with them. 

Connecting or reconnecting with people could be as simple as asking them how their pandemic experience has been, and whether they are, personally, doing ok. Doing so will help them feel supported, and could open up any manner of conversations about future plans or potential opportunities. Connecting certainly doesn’t need to happen in person, but instead should be done via industry-specific networking sites such as Procurious. 

Given the high amount of people who have lost their job or had their hours or pay reduced, it is also a great time to ask others whether you can introduce them to anyone in your network. Well-timed introductions can make all the difference right now, and could be the source of hope and inspiration a colleague needs to get back on their feet.

Finally, it’s been a tough year for everyone, and every extra endorsement can help boost not just someone’s profile, but their morale as well. If you get a chance, give a colleague a recommendation. It could just be the boost they need to secure an opportunity. 

2. Lend a hand – if you can 

The pandemic has been personally and professionally challenging for many of us, but on the flip side, has also brought out the best in people. From Captain Tom Moore raising 32 million pounds for the NHS charities to global fundraisers to buy healthcare workers coffees, many people have gone above and beyond to help those in need. And it’s something you can do, too. 

With the unprecedented number of people out of work at the moment, many may be looking for work for the first time, so offering to look over someone’s CV could be of real benefit. Alternatively, you could direct them to opportunities within your network, or even recommend online events or upskilling options that might help. Helping others in need is what networking is all about – you never know when you’ll need to call in a favour and your connections won’t forget that you helped them out. 

3. Give recognition and show as much appreciation as you can

When it comes to feeling appreciated by our colleagues and managers at work, people typically believe that money speaks louder than words. But research shows that isn’t true. In fact, simply saying thank you can go a long way – and can help deepen your connections with those around you. 

Research conducted by Gallup of over four million employees showed that recognition at work boosts not only someone’s morale, but their productivity and engagement with those around them. In other words, recognition makes us happy! But how do you do it in a sincere and meaningful way? 

One great way to do it is to give someone praise for something they individually contributed. Ideally, do this in a public forum, such as a procurement industry group discussion board. Giving someone praise publicly for their great work will help them amplify their impact. 

4. Recommend learning content 

While many of us in procurement have found ourselves busier than ever during the pandemic, some in certain industries may have found ourselves scratching our heads, wondering what to do. This might particularly be the case if we’ve been furloughed or worse, made redundant. 

But if we’ve found ourselves with spare time, there’s plenty we can do about that! When this pandemic is over, the procurement landscape will look a little (or entirely) different from what it did before. That’s why now is the time to focus on a number of different technical and soft skills, including resilience. Many courses that you might be interested in are inexpensive or even free, and recommending them to other people can help showcase your industry knowledge and give you a reason to get in touch with your connections.

5. Start a group chat (and talk about things besides work)

The point of creating connections is to broaden your network and potential opportunities. But in creating and fostering these connections, sometimes it’s important to talk about everything but work. Plus, having a casual chat and even sharing some humorous banter with colleagues can inject some fun into your day and help you feel less lonely and more connected. 

Whether it’s you sharing cat snap chats or talking about your children or the (limited) activities you’ve been able to undertake during lockdown, bringing your whole self into group conversations can help foster more authentic connections with those around you. 

How have you been staying connected with your colleagues and those in your broader network? Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below.

What You Need To Know About Supplier Payments, Bankruptcies And The Financial Impact Of COVID-19

Considering this macro-economic turmoil, new research shows that most contracts and supplier partnerships held strong during the pandemic


The early days of COVID-19 were financially tumultuous and incredibly stressful. For most business executives, uncertainty ruled the day: Would my contracts hold? Will I get paid on time? And will I have enough funds to pay my team and suppliers?

The issue is exacerbated in the supply chain, where late payments and cancelled contracts in one part of the world create chaos for unrelated businesses located millions of miles away. Of course, these short-term concerns were ultimately trumped by even bigger issues relating to bankruptcies, business closures and unemployment.

Considering this macro-economic turmoil, Procurious’ latest research shows that most contracts and supplier partnerships held strong and stood up to the stress test – which is a major testament to procurement’s response and the strength of existing buyer-supplier relationships.

Our survey of 600-plus procurement and supply chain leaders found that nearly 60% of organisations (58%) are still operating and paying their suppliers per their contract. In fact, 14% of organisations are speeding up payments to suppliers and 6% are providing direct financial support. On the other end of the spectrum, 10% said they are delaying payment to all suppliers, and another 11% said they were delaying payments to non-strategic suppliers. Overall, this is positive news – for buyers, suppliers and the broader economy.

However, the longer the crisis plays out, the more financial strain it will cause. Despite the positive news on payments and contracts, there has already been substantial financial hardships and fallout among suppliers. Our research found that as of May 12, 2020:

  • 6% of organisations said they had a key supplier go out of business
  • 11% said they had multiple key suppliers go out of business
  • 20% said they had a supplier declare fore majeure on contract obligations

Our analysis shows that the companies hit the hardest by COVID-19 were more than 50% likely to have multiple key suppliers go out of business compared to other organisations.

The Economic Forecast: Cloudy with 100% Chance of Unpredictability

Predicting what’s next economically is difficult, and possibly even an exercise in futility. We’ve heard it all from the experts, with projections changing by the day: V-shaped recoveries, U-shaped recoveries… and even the swoosh.

What’s not hard to predict: regardless of how fast the economy recovers, the response from procurement teams will continue to play a critical role in ongoing business continuity and financial resiliency. During the pandemic, 65% of organisations had to source alternative supplies for affected categories. Procurement responded quickly and effectively – with 53% able to lock down new suppliers in less than three weeks, and 18% finding new suppliers in a week’s time.

Post-pandemic, it will be interesting to watch if and how contracts evolve, and the weight put behind different conditions and KPIs. We are already expecting macro supply chain strategy shifts , which will naturally impact sourcing decisions and contract negotiations. Expect to see even more emphasis put behind collaborative supplier relationships, and new investments in predictive analytics and supplier risk monitoring, specifically as it relates to financial viability.

The financial picture remains uncertain at best. How are procurement and supply chain leaders responding? Get the latest in our “Supply Chain Confidence and Recovery” Report.