Today’s procurement leaders need help in navigating the multitude of issues facing us all, from supply chain disruption to inflation, energy crises, and war. It is a challenging time, which has been labeled a “polycrisis,” or a time where multiple global events have converged – geopolitical turbulence, inflation, and a global pandemic – causing a complex web of interconnected issues.

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a webinar with Ian Lawless and David Rae of Procurement Leaders, during which we discussed effective talent strategies for this unprecedented period. We touched on the changing workforce, the impact of turbulence, and how procurement can build effective talent strategies for 2023.

Talent is a topic that is close to my heart and one that we are hearing is top of mind for procurement executives. Here are three key takeaways from our conversation that procurement leaders can apply to address talent strategies in 2023 and beyond.

1. Focus on Attracting and Retaining Employees to Overcome the Ongoing Talent Shortage

The polycrisis has changed the workforce, and it is time to change with it. According to Assistant Professor Hatim Rahman of Northwestern University, the COVID-19 pandemic, arguably the first and most significant event of this recent polycrisis, has caused long-lasting disruption to the workplace, creating “a once-in-a-generation – or even once-in-100-years – opportunity to question some of our long-held assumptions about how we work.”

Being able to nurture existing talent, being able to upskill existing talent, being able to recruit young talent to the procurement function – these are all top concerns. And not just in procurement: logistics is another area where we’re seeing increased demand for that skill set but where we do not have the capacity or enough capability in our current organizations, especially not to meet the demand that continues to build.

2. Engage and Manage External Workers as a Pillar of Your Strategy

Today’s workforce must be viewed holistically to include external resources, a practice that is growing more common as businesses seek to gain flexibility and control.

In the most forward-thinking companies I have seen, the CHRO and CPO have a collaborative relationship. It’s one where they are building a total workforce strategy together that looks at the capabilities within the full-time employee base and being sure that they are recruiting and training to have those critical skills. They are also thinking about what is the best way to leverage contingent workers and service providers to get global reach, specialization, or agility – to be able to have flexibility to expand or contract the workforce without having to go through the emotional task of restructuring or downsizing.

3. In Times of Turbulence, Meet Workers Where They Are

Agility is key to fulfilling the evolving role of procurement, as well as the demands of the talent pool. Living in a polycrisis has shown that we need different ways of thinking and working. In a dynamic environment, procurement teams must strengthen and regain capabilities that were previously unused or lost given the years of fairly consistent supply chain stability. Businesses must employ new methods to access crucial skill sets while mitigating risk, such as investing in the external workforce and providing flexibility to workers.

In a lot of areas, the last few years have made us very risk weary. CFOs are saying, “How can I better mitigate risk? We’ve been through a roller coaster. I really want to take more risk out of our business.” And one of the ways to do that is to have a dynamic workforce where you can efficiently shift labor or capability where you need it, when you need it.

In this age of uncertainty, procurement responsibilities have increased and are even more in the spotlight. Upskilling procurement talent is a vital part of being more effective and meeting the growing expectations of business stakeholders. But you can’t do it alone. Thankfully, technology is here to help you manage the complexities and the risk, and make proactive, informed decisions. At SAP, we continue to listen to the market, to not only address the challenges encountered today but to bring the solutions that will help procurement evolve into the future.

To learn more about the webinar and read a full summary, check out this white paper: Effective Talent Strategies To Lead Through the Polycrisis.

Explore these solutions from SAP that can help procurement leaders navigate through challenging times:

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about the full range of SAP’s procurement and total workforce solutions at SAP Spend Connect Live in Vienna, Austria.

Etosha Thurman is chief marketing and solutions officer for Intelligent Spend and Business Network at SAP.