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How the Multi-Generational Workforce Can Shape the Future of Public Procurement

Posted by OMNIA Partners on October 30, 2019

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A rapidly changing workforce, integrated with the advent of the digital era, is shifting the way procurement operates. Younger generations entering the public sector workforce are proposing improvements to current processes that questions the status quo. For the first time in modern age, five generations are present at work –Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Gen Z.

Baby Boomers are set to retire in large numbers over the next few years and they will take their experience and expertise with them. According to Pew Research Center, by 2020, Millennials are forecasted to comprise half of the American workforce and by 2025 – 75 percent of the global workforce. As this shift begins, older generations will need to ensure that the younger generations will be able to tackle public procurement’s evolving organizational landscape.

Separating Fact from Fiction

Misclassifying a group of people can stem from biased research methodology, stereotypes, and widespread labeling based on past experiences. In the workplace, this can possibly result in an organization’s loss of productivity and cause misunderstanding between employees from different generations – both young and mature.

Tammy Rimes, MPA, Executive Director of National Cooperative Procurement Partners, believes there can be a lost opportunity if organizations do not remove generational labels in the workforce altogether.

“Once we label people, we pre-judge them based off those labels and what they’re capable of,” Rimes said. “You might not take advantage of all the skill sets that a person could bring into the workplace. People should not be placed in ‘boxes’ based on their date of birth.”

Breaking Down the Barriers

“A key aspect [of a multi-generational workforce] is that different people react differently in the same situation,” said Wayne Casper, Vice President of Strategic Accounts at OMNIA Partners. “Regardless of generational differences, each person should be engaged as an individual.”

For a work environment that is rooted in diversity to be functional, it begins with leadership. One growing trend that is proving beneficial to a multi-generational workforce is a program called “reverse mentoring.” This allows younger and older public procurement professionals to learn from each other and embraces the fact that every generation has a unique set of skills to be taught and learned from the other. This creates a collaborative comradery between the generational divide.

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Changing Era Offers New Solutions in Procurement

As contracting workload increases, younger generations entering the procurement workforce are seeking for more effective and efficient solutions. Data driven procurement, implementation of technology, and innovation solutions are just some of the ways we see younger generations, like millennials, modernizing the public procurement function. Perhaps the biggest advancement that younger professionals are adopting is the use of cooperative contracts.

The use of cooperative contracts has been around for years but has grown in popularity overtime as a key differentiator to reduce the administrative burden of purchasing and serve as a more strategic sourcing initiative for organizations (both large and small). Younger generations embrace the benefits that utilizing a cooperative contract can deliver, such as saving organizations time and money.

“Current public procurement staff does not have time to go out to bid anymore,” said Rimes. “That’s why cooperative purchasing is growing more than ever as a more streamlined solution.”

As the younger generations start to diversify procurement teams, increased utilization of cooperative contracts is just one area where we are seeing a shift in how procurement teams operate.

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Topics: Procurement, Business Products & Solutions