What Makes Purchasing Attractive to Young Professionals?

Recently, we have hearing about the "shortage of skilled professionals" so often that it’s become like a broken record. It’s not only all around us — the shortage seems to be particularly evident in purchasing. Why is that? What are young professionals in purchasing looking for? And why are they quitting their jobs?

As an Internet statistic shows, the main reason for quitting (28%) is due to management behavior besides the desire for a better work-life balance (27%), a more attractive job (24%), and financial incentives (19%). In short: good professionals are unfortunately almost being forced out of purchasing. In this regard, some employer ratings on the Kununu platform are alarming and to a certain extent, an act of revenge.

It’s not just the high workload that drives away good employees.

A recent interesting article in the German business newspaper Handelsblatt spoke about shortages in skilled professionals. The headline and introduction read: "Shortage of skilled workers — two million jobs in Germany remain vacant. More than every second company complains about bottlenecks in personnel. The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce estimates that a value creation potential of almost 100 billion euros will be lost. Among capital goods manufacturers, i.e. the makers of electrical equipment, vehicles, and machinery, no less than 65 percent are complaining of problems in filling job vacancies."

In my conversations with executives and customers, I often hear that qualified professionals aren’t available for the future. So why is purchasing specifically so unattractive to young professionals? Why are employees leaving this job area? The reasons are found not only in the work overload as this is also the case in other departments. Instead, the decisive factors are the mindless tasks compared to the high level of responsibility and the poor reputation of purchasing within the company. Little leeway for action coupled with many complaints and hardly any praise — who would want to put up with that on the job daily?

Simplify the application process and retain motivated professionals

First, it’s definitely a matter of winning over future purchasing professionals. And this is where traditional search ads and cumbersome application processes are obsolete. Streamlined job postings and applications through a simple click in an app, such as LinkedIn, are timely and prevent job candidates from getting upset.

Then, keeping motivated employees and good buyers in the company is a great art. After all, they don’t just fall from the sky, but go through a development process. For a leader, it’s important not to let the purchasing process deteriorate to one of discouragement. Especially when the everyday work routine can’t keep up with the ambitious goals of a modern purchasing department, then it becomes almost impossible to retain skilled employees.

Next, leadership behavior is the number one reason for resignations. And wearing jeans along with white running shoes still doesn’t make a difference in employee management. Besides modern leaders, modern buyers want fair pay, a better work-life balance, the freedom to manage their time and work locations, along with a contemporary and exciting range of tasks to fit their level of education.

The path to motivating successful buyers leads through this jungle and can usually be clarified in a conversation with your staff. Why not give it a try!

Learn more about this and many other subjects in my new book on purchasing in transition [Der Einkauf im Wandel]. What strategies do you rely on to attract and retain employees for purchasing? I look forward to exchanging thoughts on this subject with you in a free appointment or on LinkedIn.

For more on this and other issues for sustainable purchasing strategies, listen to my podcast.