COVID-19 has behaved like a spotlight, exposing faults in our workforce that were disguised by easier times. Now, 88% of respondents to a McKinsey survey report gaps in their procurement capability as a result of the pandemic. Companies are looking to rapidly upskill their employees, which is a shift from the once-popular methods of contracting and hiring. And the skills that most need addressing might take you by surprise: empathy, leadership and adaptability. Yes, that’s right – soft skills are back in vogue.
Why soft skills are so important right now
The debate between hard and soft skills has been burbling along for decades, but there’s no doubting the huge importance of effective communication and leadership in the current (and future) landscape. There are two reasons why soft skills have become so valued.
Reason #1: COVID-19
Remote learning has led to widespread and often disconnected teams. Procurement leaders have witnessed a significant drop in morale and productivity as working from home has made it difficult to identify employees who need assistance and, conversely, made it difficult for employees to reach out for help.
The pandemic has also made organisations particularly conscious of cost-cutting. In this climate, CPOs need to be especially adept at leadership and communication if they’re going to bring all stakeholders together when new opportunities for innovation are identified.
Reason #2: global warming
The second reason why the development of soft skills has become so important is climate change. Introducing sustainability into ATM documentation and working with suppliers to decarbonise their processes requires procurement officers who are good at building sustainable relationships and collaborating with suppliers and stakeholders.
Pursuing sustainable sourcing is a complex task. While it is something we all need to address and something that will benefit all of humanity, there will be – especially in the early stages – tension between trying to remain viable and changing decades-long practices. Adept communicators, leaders and negotiators will be a company’s most valuable assets.
Why you should improve from within
There are four ways to improve the skills of a workforce: skill building, contracting, hiring and redeploying. Out of these four, one has seen a rapid rise since the start of the pandemic, and that’s skill building. 69% of those who responded to a McKinsey survey say their organisation focuses more on skill building now than before COVID struck. Most also believe it’s the best method to close gaps within their teams. Why is this?
- Employee satisfaction. It’s the difference between a job and a career. Employees who have training and development opportunities have a higher degree of satisfaction and feel optimistic about their future. They can see opportunities for advancement and work with greater purpose, excited about what could be next.
- Employee retention. This follows on from the first point. Happy and fulfilled employees generally don’t look for opportunities elsewhere. They want to stay with the organisation that is making a clear investment in their career, helping them to become better at what they do and more valuable.
- Lower costs. One half to two times an employee’s salary – that’s how much it can cost to replace a worker. It may seem counter-intuitive, but investing in a current employee and upskilling them is cheaper than having them replaced.
- Attract the best. Word gets around. If your staff are happy, they’ll recommend your business to their network of friends and contacts and you’ll end up with an expansive and diverse pool of talent seeking your employment.
Here’s how we can make your staff leaders in soft skills
The first step in upskilling staff is identifying the gaps. Skills Gap Analysis has a specific assessment that targets commercial leadership, focusing on eight dimensions that determine an individual’s ability to motivate, lead and empower a group of people.
After the gaps specific to an individual have been determined, it’s time to close them. Academy of Procurement offers highly focused workshops designed to transform procurement officers into the leaders and motivators the current landscape demands of them. Get in touch today to give your team’s soft skills a boost and make your organisation attractive to other businesses and potential employees.