Tag Archives: millennial employment

Are You Ready For The Procurement Rebels And Revolutionaries In Your Team?

We know Gen Z don’t fit into the traditional workplace – but how can procurement organisations embrace these revolutionaries to benefit from their rebellious nature and leverage their innovative approaches? 

As a procurement manager with very rigid, process driven procurement software in place, how do you plan to manage the potential chaos that will come from the millennials in your current workforce and the Generation Z’s about to enter it?

Firstly, let’s address three ways of dealing with this issue. Do you ignore them, do you suppress them, or do you take time to investigate what these natural rebels and revolutionaries can offer?

Both groups are born entrepreneurs; they mesh work and play together, they’re smart beyond their years and they have a clear picture of what they want from a career.

Technology has been a major influencer in the develop of a new type of professional. It has provided access to vast amounts of information and has become the great equalizer, playing a major role in their disruptive nature at home and at work.

In my experience, I’ve found that both millennials and Z’s are self-starters – they work smarter and harder than you may think and have disproved time and again the “lazy” stereotype. They’re not averse to working outside normal business hours and use their daily commutes or downtime to get work done because they want to complete it promptly.

The tech catalyst

So, we know that millennials and Z’s don’t fit traditional workplace rules, so how can organisations benefit from their rebellious nature?

Technology is the catalyst of this rebellion. It meshes the world of work and play into a single environment; one where users expect the ‘Amazon’ type experience they get at home on Sunday to be mirrored in how they use technology at work on Monday. ­­

What do you say to the team member that walks into your office to tell you that your existing procurement software is drowning the team? They then show you an app they downloaded over weekend that allowed them to create RFQs, connect and chat with suppliers, make decisions and save a ton of their time and your money.

Revolutionaries are born from discontent. They’re frustrated at the status quo, and those who lead them are searching for a better way. It can be a challenging process, but these young rebels – or, to use a modern term: these entrepreneurs – are simply seeking more effective and flexible ways to work.

A new approach

So how would you react to the above scenario? It starts by changing how you approach the thinking behind the solution. This means recognising that innovation is no longer a top-down exercise that remains in the exclusive domain of senior management teams or corporate retreats.

Real innovation today is being driven from the ground up by those rebels within our teams that simply want a better work experience and are not afraid to try new technology or methods to get better outcomes.

It wasn’t that long ago when ‘agile’ was a term used only in software and development teams. I now see sales teams working with scrums and management teams having daily stand ups – it’s just one example of the new way of thinking and doing that is helping business work faster in today’s instant world.

Does this mean that it’s time to let the revolution rise and allow the rebels to take over the organization? Well, not entirely – it’s about getting the balance right.

It’s time for procurement leaders to stop lamenting about being seen as the roadblocks within their organisations and to look to your millennials and Z’s as a talent pool rich with ideas, innovation and passion.

They will challenge, they will make mistakes, but it is time to move beyond the current boundaries you’ve set, and remember – you were a rebel once, too!

About the author

Alan Paul is a thought leader and CEO of sourceit, a technology company that has led the market in the development of simple and easy-to-use sourcing applications for indirect categories.

Sourceit offers three different products for buyers:

  • RFQ – time saving request for quote software for all indirect categories,
  • Market – a specialized procurement and job management application for marketing services, and
  • Catalog – an inventory management and on-demand product/services ordering application.

Visit the website: sourceithq.com

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose: Why The Young Are Snapping Up Tech Jobs

Job satisfaction comes down to three things: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Does this explain why millennials are dominating in the tech industry? 

Numerous industries have been accused of many different types of hiring bias and flawed hiring policy.

The service industry, for example, has long been subject to questions about its lack of affirmative action in this area based on the demographic of candidates that tend to be allocated these roles. The same applies even within typically diverse workforces.

Hiring bias at its worst

Few sectors have faced the intense scrutiny aimed at the tech world in recent years, owing to its pervasive reputation for hiring vastly disproportionate percentages of younger males.

A quick Google search of “industry hiring bias” results in almost an entire first page of links to think pieces about Silicon Valley.

There are countless arguments to be made on the subject, many of which rightly focus on the urgency of addressing this gender imbalance. One popular proposal for tapping into the vast, and shamefully underused, female talent pool suggests funding schools to better promote careers for women in computer science.

But if the tech industry is also heavily skewed towards youth, how long would those careers remain satisfying for?

Job satisfaction at the biggest tech firms

This latter question prompted a recent research project by online compensation and benefits analyst Payscale. By gathering data from almost 35,000 workers across 17 of the biggest tech firms in the world – including eBay, Google, Cisco, Facebook, Samsung, Intel, Apple and Microsoft – researchers attempted to gain an overview of how employees’ job satisfaction levels mapped on to various metrics such as median age, early and mid-career pay levels, and total years of industry experience.

When transposed as a series of infographics, the data seems to highlight some marked trends across the board: in particular, workforces with higher average ages in the study group (notably IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Samsung) were among the lowest-scoring in terms of overall job satisfaction.

Moreover, many of the same names also placed highly in terms of their employees’ length of tenure with the company and total years of industry experience, while coming in amongst the lower rankings for both early- and mid-career median pay levels. Taken at face value, this immediately presents various possible scenarios.

One natural observation would be that the ‘more satisfied’ workers were often among those being paid the most relative to their experience, which, let’s face it, doesn’t seem much of a hot take.

What appears to be a fairly direct inverse correlation between median age and reported job satisfaction is potentially more interesting, but the question remains as to whether this phenomenon is in any way unique to the tech industry. After all, there’s every chance that the methodology of the study simply benefits companies who have a high turnover of younger, less experienced workers, whose expectations and needs are typically less complex at such an early career stage.

Are millennials best-suited to tech jobs?

When it comes specifically to tech roles, and the fact that they’re so commonly filled by younger-than-average staff (the national median age for a US worker is 42; at Facebook, it’s just 29), many people don’t think it’s quite that simple.

The much-quoted author, speaker and ‘business guru’ Daniel Pink, responsible for such widely read titles as Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, might be chief among them. Pink’s theories around what ultimately leads to lasting job satisfaction focus on the triumvirate of ‘autonomy, mastery and purpose’. In other words, a sense of independence, a feeling of capability, and a genuine motivation to keep plugging away.

Millennials entering the tech industry may be particularly well-placed to tick all three of those key boxes because of, not in spite of, their age. Pink notes that, having grown up in an environment of always-on connectivity that didn’t fully exist 20 years ago, millennials are finding it much easier to adapt as the internet rapidly erodes the decades-old concept of a standard office-based work week.

He also points out that today’s all-pervasive digital culture means new graduates no longer seek to separate their work and social lives to nearly the same extent as previous generations did. As a result, the boundary between professional performance and success in other areas of millennials’ lives is arguably less clearly defined; this in turn becomes an obvious source of general motivation that perfectly suits the thrust and structure of many cutting-edge tech firms.

Combatting age discrimination

The extent to which these sorts of theories hold water is very much up for debate. What we do know is that the debate is heating up: last year, Bloomberg reported that in just eight short years, 226 complaints pertaining to age discrimination had been registered against the top 150 Silicon Valley firms.

While tech employers continue to perform well in global Best Employer lists, the conversation will certainly benefit from some longer-term data as we start to develop a clearer picture of career movement across the wider industry in the coming years.

Unlocking the Hearts and Minds of Millennials

A Millennial warned a room full of procurement leaders that they need to rethink their mindset if they’re ever going to win the hearts and minds of Millennials.

Hearts and Minds MIllennials

Too many Australian leaders overlook the fact that 50 per cent of the world’s population is aged under 30, and have no idea how to effectively communicate with them.

Holly Ransom is the CEO of Emergent Solutions, which works with leaders, organisations, and governments, globally to set the benchmark, and be frontiers of change and innovation.

It helps challenge their thinking, evolve their strategy and build their capability to engage with market disruptions head-on, unlocking new opportunities, outcomes and value.

Trusted Sources

The room full of procurement leaders collectively leaned in while Ransom spoke, captivated by her high energy talk despite it being the last session of the 9th Asia-Pacific CPO Forum, held in Melbourne last week.

Ransom outlined some research around purchasing decisions among Millennials that found that 1 per cent of Millennials trust advertising, 30 per cent trust blogs, while the majority are looking for some sort of online reference before making a purchase. And 65 per cent of Millennials are judging companies and businesses based entirely on their digital presence.

“Sometimes we seem to forget that half of the world’s population is under 30; probably because we spend so much time talking about the other end of the spectrum – the elderly.”

She urged the room to bear in mind that the average American male has spent 10,000 hours gaming by the time they reach of the age 18, which is exactly the same amount of time they’ve spent in school.

“It’s about thinking about how you can leverage that to your benefit,” she says.

Feel Connected

The procurement sector needs to understand that trust is manifesting in new ways, citing the fact that people are prepared to jump into a car with an Uber driver they’ve never met, and appear to feel safe.

“This younger generation wants to see, connect and feel. They want authenticity from our brands and businesses, and they want to see that footprint extending to something far more than just shareholder returns.”

Ransom also touched on the changing face of the workforce, explaining that Millennials with a laptop and a few clients much prefer to work from anywhere.

“Freelancing is a reality and it unlocks the global human capital pipeline, which presents huge opportunities for businesses. You can hire someone to handle a project for you, rather than having to hire a new employee.”

The benefits of being able to outsource to a freelancer includes allowing leaders to think more laterally, and spend more time on their leadership approach, she says.

“Through leadership when dealing with consumers and suppliers, we need to make sure that Millennials can see, touch and feel what we’re trying to get across to them. They want to come on the journey with you.”

The ‘Why’ in Communications

Ransom also spoke about her initial cynicism toward Rotary International when invited along to a meeting, but the statistics prompted her to get involved to bring about change.

“When I thought about Rotary, I thought of pale, stale and male. I couldn’t believe it when I was told that there were 1.2 million members, and yet only 12 per cent of that were women, and 2 per cent of that were under 30. Hearing that was enough for me to want to get involved.”

Ransom has helped Rotary lead with the ‘why’ in their communications to help build engagement, and better explain what they’re about.

“We realised that Rotary focused too much on the youth message. It’s a classic example of how easy it is to assume that our why, is someone else’s why. And that wasn’t the case here.”

Ransom ended by giving an example of innovation that involved a young girl who was given $10. She used the cash to hire two DVDs, which she played them in two halls, and charged everyone a few dollars to come and watch the movie. She turned that $10 into more than $300, in a clear demonstration that innovation doesn’t have to be expensive.

“I challenge you to think about what that $10 could do to build engagement in your business in the next two weeks. We need leaders to stop thinking that innovation needs to be hugely expensive, and that you need entire teams to drive innovation. That’s just simply not the case.”

Planning Procurement’s Response To The Millennial Generation

Understanding how procurement can cope with, and ultimately benefit from, the disruption brought into talent management by the Millennial Generation.

Millennial Generation

Hackett’s 2016 Procurement Key Issues Study shows that talent management remains one of the top 3 of objectives as a critical or major area of focus for virtually all procurement organisations.

Looking deeper, organisations are targeting three specific areas to transform talent: improving leadership skills, honing business acumen, and building specialist procurement skills. The two perennial favourites, category management and strategic sourcing, make up the other top reported objectives.

The research also showed that the Millennial Generation represents one of the greatest potential impacts and challenges to managing talent in the next year or two. Additionally, most procurement organisations (especially those in Europe) continue to experience higher levels of staff churn and difficulty attracting great talent.

What do we mean by Millennials?

When we refer to the Millennial Generation, we are referring to those born in the 80s and now moving into management positions, or early 90s who are leaving graduate school to join the workforce. This workforce demographic is characterised by different attitudes, desires and motivations than earlier generations. Generations X and Y came to be known for their independence, interest in work/life balance, technical proficiency, and measuring success in both financial and social terms.

Millennials, on the other hand, are the first generation of digital natives – i.e. they’ve truly grown up with the internet and social consciousness.  They have high career expectations, desiring both immediate and high impact opportunities, flexibility in terms of schedules, embracing remote working and diversity in assignments (e.g. culture, fun and collaboration).

They plan for rapid advancement as well as frequent job changes. Case in point: 90 per cent of Millennials plan to stay in their job for less than 3 years. They are high touch, and expect frequent feedback. In summary, the millennial generation wants more from work than just a career at a good company.

How can procurement address the critical skills gaps?

Research conducted by the Hackett Group in the past on procurement talent management, has shown clear gaps in the essential business skills required for most procurement jobs. These are: strategic thinking and analysis, group facilitation, and relationship management skills.

When considering specialist skills, enhanced SRM and market intelligence expertise were identified in need of development for most roles, with supply risk, innovation and SCM expertise needed for specialist roles.

How do we respond?

As procurement leaders this situation poses challenging questions:

  1. What procurement value proposition will be the most appealing?
  2. Will higher attrition become the new normal for procurement?
  3. Is now the time to invest in knowledge capture and transfer?
  4. How can we create flexible work schedules and collaborative environments?
  5. Do we need to rethink the importance and type of training we provide?

In all cases, training strategies need to be modernised to reflect this accelerated reality, as well as changing learning styles and preferences. Strategies that get people up to speed faster, use more interactive, workshop and team based formats should be preferred. The 70-20-10 approach to learning is based around the idea that 70 per cent of learning comes through experience, 20 per cent from social learning with colleagues, and just 10 per cent through formal learning involving training or online courses.

This framework will see larger elements of learning being on-the-job, collaborative and workshop based, action orientated to better align to leaders and manager day jobs and current issues, and complemented with self-directed learning elements and social learning (e.g. LinkedIn, Yammer).

Hackett's Framework for Training to Integrate Millennials into the Workforce
Hackett’s Framework for Training to Integrate Millennials into the Workforce

Course materials need to be user friendly, but at the same time to support multi-tasking and access to on-demand, on-line tutorial content. Course design should incorporate the themes seen as important to younger generations – how procurement connects into CSR and sustainability, work/life balance, and career advancement.

The older generations of Baby Boomers and Gen X will need support and even training to adapt to this shift in to mentality and culture.

About Hackett’s Procurement Key Issues Study

The results of this annual study are gathered from executives from over 180 large and global companies operating in the US, Europe and rest of the world, with annual revenue of $1 billion or greater.

Find out more by visiting the Hackett website.

Chris Sawchuk is a keynote speaker at the Big Ideas Summit on April 21st. Chris will be talking about how procurement is applying key agile capabilities in the areas of leadership, talent, service placement and information-driven performance.

If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.