Your employees helped you navigate a historical disruption. Now they deserve your investment in their personal and professional development.
Everyone wants to “get back to normal.” I am anxious to safely hug friends and family, talk without the muffling of a mask, enjoy a meal in a restaurant, and travel abroad again. While the saying get back to normal is mostly a turn of phrase, going back to normal in the professional world is impossible.
Procurement professionals are constantly preparing for localized Black Swan events, like natural disasters, geopolitical conflicts, cybercrimes and such. But the impact of COVID is unique in its size and scope. What started as an epidemic in late 2019 quickly spread into a pandemic, consuming the entirety of 2020, and it’s still rearing its ugly head in the world.
Leaders in all sectors need to realize that the world as we know it has changed, and your employees are holding company leadership accountable. If you want to keep the talent you have and be an employer of choice to attract new talent, it’s vital to stop, listen, and learn from the people who help make your business successful.
Here are my recommendations to build a more inclusive, resilient, and agile workforce as we look ahead.
Back to the Office ... or Not
Now that vaccines are making inroads and people can safely congregate again, some look forward to going back to the office full time. After a year of working from home, others don’t want a full-time return to the office.
Before COVID, there was in many companies a conservative attitude about working from home. It was accepted on occasion but not wholly embraced. At Scanmarket, we will not return to a situation where people have to be at the office five days a week. Instead, we will pivot to a hybrid, part-time office model.
Rajeev Karmacharya is Head of the Strategic Sourcing and Category Management group at Fannie Mae. Rajeev leads a team of category management, sourcing/contracting and supplier operations professionals managing $4.5+ billion in external spend. He is a member of the SIG Advisory Board and was a featured presenter at SIG’s virtual SIGnature Event that took place in September 2020. Virtual SIGnature Events are free to all qualified buy-side practitioners and sell-side members.
What role does procurement play when it comes to transitioning employees to a work-from-home environment?
I would argue that procurement is a key enabler for several reasons. Many of us have been working from home now for several months. If you think about what was needed for a seamless transition to a work-from-home model, technology and digitization come to mind. Procurement has had a role to play in the acquisition of these technologies and ensuring there are appropriate controls and SLA’s to mitigate any potential performance issues.
Procurement has been an early adopter in implementing solutions such as digital signature, which has seen broader adoption across the enterprise in a work-from-home environment. Specific to the procurement function, approval workflows built into our source-to-pay solutions have enabled our business stakeholders to review and provide necessary approvals electronically.
On a more tactical level, our procurement team worked to ensure that office supplies and peripherals needed to work from home effectively could be ordered online via our procurement portal to be shipped directly to our employees’ homes. Our Category Managers negotiated deals with technology and office furniture suppliers so employees could take advantage of our volume leverage.
Rajeev Karmacharya, Head of the Strategic Sourcing & Category Management, Fannie Mae.
Do you have the talent you need to stay competitive? Connect with your customers in a 24/7 world? Harness new technologies to drive more business value?
To achieve these goals, organizations need to source fresh talent and new capabilities. That’s easier said than done. To put things into perspective, in 2009 there were 6.6 job seekers for every vacancy in the US. By July 2018 that figure had fallen to 0.9, meaning there are now more job openings than unemployed people. The result? It’s increasingly hard for organizations to find the skills they need.
Our new research found that many organizations are already experiencing significant skills shortfalls. Just 31% of executives say their organization has enough skills in newer technologies (such as AI, automation and robotics). Only 29% have enough skills in cybersecurity.
To source sought-after skills, many organizations are turning to the external workforce, which includes:
contingent labor (also known as non-payroll workers), such as independent contractors, freelancers and temporary staff
services providers (companies that supply services delivered by people), such as consulting firms and marketing agencies
Our research found that the external workforce helps organizations to achieve a broad range of business goals. Most executives say the external workforce is important or extremely important to operating at full capacity/meeting market demands (74%) and improving the customer experience/client satisfaction (67%).
Molly Spatara, Global VP, Brand Experience, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass
There is no question that the world of work is changing. With artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and robotic process automation (RPA), to name a few, technologies are disrupting the industry in radical ways. When you factor in the retirement of Baby Boomers, the advancement of Millennials into management positions and the proliferation of globalization, the face of the workforce is profoundly different. In addition, over the past 40 years – more so over the past 20 – the concept of working at one company for a person’s entire career has become completely foreign. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who graduated from college any time after 2000 who is still with the same company they initially joined. It’s not your father’s – or dare I say, grandfather’s workforce anymore.
Perhaps the biggest change to the landscape of all is that over 41.5% of the workforce is represented by contingent workers, which brings its own set of challenges. This particular dynamic can have legal implications, making it more important than ever to begin those relationships with clearly defined expectations. With such a large portion of the workforce considered “non-employee” (which includes independent contractors, temp labor, freelance personnel and other gig economy workers), it is more critical than ever to carefully frame expectations.
It’s no secret that technology, data analytics, globalization, and other factors have completely changed many aspects of modern business. Supply chains are wider than ever, sales and procurement strategies are increasingly predictive thanks to advance data approaches, and more companies are outsourcing work and relying on contractors.
Amid all this, the C-suite has seemed relatively stable. A business might have a CEO, a COO, a CFO, or other executives, but they tend to focus on business processes within their domains of expertise. But increasingly, it looks like those widespread shifts in other departments have reached the C-suite.
Whether through collaborations or new roles, the executive level in many companies has been adapting to new realities. Here’s how they’re doing it.
The technological shifts and trend toward outsourcing have been a boom for bottom lines, but they have also made the nature of business decision-making more complex. Consider, for example, the role of a CIO. For years, information and technology managers chose and oversaw the implementation of network solutions for a company to use in-house. But now that many businesses hire outside firms to handle cloud storage, data security, and other essential IT functions, the CIO’s role has changed. Now they are having to think more about purchasing, contracts and third-party risks, like a CPO, and about strategy and long-term competitiveness, like a CEO.
As a result, the traditional walls between those positions have begun to break down. The CIO in the example above can’t move forward with new contracts or strategy without consulting their peers in the C-suite. Likewise, if a procurement officer or human resources lead want to implement new software solutions that can add value and intelligence to their departments—an increasingly common occurrence—they’ll benefit from consultation and buy-in from the CIO.
Patrick Gahagan, Director of Contract Compliance Audit Services at SC&H Group
As we look into the future of contingent workforce management, and our vision of what a Managed Services Provider (MSP) solution should deliver, we must acknowledge that many of today’s MSP programs are broken and failing to deliver on their original promise. These legacy programs have become ineffective, pushing managers and talent into a broken process and creating endless frustration. To the point where, after having squeezed every last penny from the staffing supply chain, they are no longer delivering the best talent to the client.
We call today’s market reality “MSP v1.0” and in many programs it is represented by a command and control mentality where the MSP actively prevents staffing suppliers from speaking to the business managers who have created requisitions for new workers, enforces unrealistic pricing restrictions, and delivers an anemic value proposition through a burdensome and time-consuming process.
It is no wonder that many hiring managers are frustrated with their organization’s contingent workforce program, and as a result, many legacy MSP program stakeholders discover huge amounts of rogue spend taking place outside of their programs. We’ve even seen recent examples where procurement and HR stakeholders have become so disenchanted with their MSP program providers that they are actually considering taking the draconian step of shifting their programs in-house.
In an increasingly crowded global marketplace, it can be hard to stand out. Back in the day, competition came from companies that looked just like yours. That is no longer the case. With an always-online hyper-connected economy, your competition could come from an industry so far removed from the one that you are in that it hardly makes sense…and yet if you aren’t watching, your business can find itself on the precipice of being made redundant by a company you never saw coming. (Think Uber to cabs or AirBnB to hotels…or even more recently Amazon to grocers.) It is not at all far-fetched…and with artificial intelligence and other forms of digitization, who knows what the future holds?
Frankly, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the best ideas may come from outside your industry…that’s one of the concepts that SIG holds dear. During a plenary Summit session, we had everyone work with the people at their table to discuss a challenge that one person at the table was facing. Because the tables were random and the people at those tables represented different positions and industries, the results provided some breakthrough moments with complete out-of-the-box thinking.
It was nearly 90 degrees and the breeze was barely offering any relief from the heat radiating off the white sand. I love the beach but there are times when even the relatively cool, 80-degree water can’t offer any way to provide relief. I looked at all those beach front homes with their cover decks, fans and A/C with envy. Then just when I was thinking of packing it up and heading for the air-conditioned car, clouds rolled in and covered the sun. Temperature moderate, winds began to pick up and I could see the telltale signs of a shower in the distance. Relief was coming thanks to the cloud.
Being on the beach can make you feel a bit exposed. Like a small business that is so vulnerable to the whims of the market, it can be tough to find relief that is offered to the larger competitors with resources and plenty of volume to offer to the latest solutions providers. With recent advances in technology, that is beginning to change thanks to the cloud. Take the workforce management systems for example. Finally contingent workforce management systems are in the cloud. That means a small or medium sized business (SMB) can get the control, visibility and risk mitigation that has previously been available to only larger enterprises. Like that experience on the beach, this cloud is bringing relief to SMBs who have grown to embrace the use of the external workforce.
Jay Lash, Principal Consultant, Compass Rose Advisory
Have you ever tried having a productive day at work after being involved in a head on collision the previous day? It is pretty rough! The concussion sure made it hard to focus on what Sally was explaining at the executive meeting. You did not make the best decisions that day and I’m pretty sure you ruined your chances of bringing that one strategic partnership to fruition when your slurred speech was mistaken for intoxication. Actually, I bet you didn’t go to work the next day and I bet your employer told you to take the time you needed to heal, see the right doctors and come back stronger. Physical health issues can affect anyone at any time. For that reason, many workers are given medical insurance, sick time and other benefits to ensure they can recuperate before returning to the work place.
Yet, less visible injuries occur to our mental health and they can be just as frequent and debilitating. However, rather than providing the necessary support to workers, many are not given benefits to take time off or get a mental health checkup. Rather than receiving well wishes of getting better, most people with mental health issues deal with them in quiet because of stigmas that exist.
I decided to write my blog this week on this topic after being inundated with news reports in the recent days, weeks, months and unfortunately even years of crime and other tragic outcomes related to various forms of hate, anger and frustration. As I question my bi-racial child’s future in a hate entrenched society, and reflect on the loss of a friend at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last year, I can’t help but think that there has got to be something that could have been done to prevent this. Is there something I can do? Is there something anyone can do other than teach our children how to show compassion, consideration and love for others?
Think of a great workplace. What sets it apart from the rest?
Nearly 70 percent of employees globally agree that happiness at work is the best ingredient for a unique work experience, according to a new JLL study on the human experience in corporate workplaces. In a survey of more than 7,000 employees in 12 countries, JLL found that the “human experience” means far more than work-life balance concerns, but encompasses how empowered, engaged and fulfilled employees feel in the workplace.
Savvy C-suite executives today see a direct correlation between a productive workplace and a healthy balance sheet. Despite advances in workplace technology and increasing levels of automation in corporate real estate management itself, the facilities and workplace are ultimately about the people they house. Organizations ignore this reality at their peril.
From a real estate perspective, companies need to think about whether their real estate offers the right locations, technology and design to inspire the best from their employees. In an era of rapid business change and stiff competition for talent, creating memorable, engaging workplace experiences is more important than ever for organizational success.
JLL’s new research, Workplace Powered by Human Experience, looks at how the workplace experience and a focus on people can help businesses thrive in the new world of work. The key takeaway? Three priorities drive the human experience in today’s workplace: engagement, empowerment and fulfillment.
Engagement comes first
Ed Nolan, Managing Director, Workplace Strategy, JLL