In a world of hybrid working and continuing supply disruption, soft 'people skills' have never been more important to the procurement industry, a salary report from recruitment giant Hays concludes.
The Hays 2022 Salary Guide says there is increased demand for procurement, and that "99% of organisations expect their activity levels to stay the same or increase over the next 12 months".
Hays Logistics, Supply Chain & Procurement Director, Scott Dance, says that with hybrid working now firmly established, 'soft skills' are what will allow procurement professionals to be agile enough to adapt to the ever-evolving challenges, such as negotiating with suppliers or stakeholders, both in person and remotely.
"While hard skills such as degrees and professional qualifications remain fundamental to the hiring process in procurement, there is huge emphasis being placed on soft skills when recruiting procurement professionals," says Dance.
People skills vital to procurement industry - Hays
He adds: "Undoubtedly, meetings in-person differ greatly from those online. You’re able to read body language with more ease but having strong communication and interpersonal intelligence enables talent to be flexible in each situation, which is fundamental to success."
The Salary Guide says 65% of employers themselves need strong communication and interpersonal skills, because this supports the drive to hire people with an aptitude for high-value skills such as negotiation and problem solving.
In terms of what makes organisations attractive as prospective employers, Dance says that although salary and progression prospects are important, hiring managers are saying candidates now place more importance on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), environmental, social and governance (ESG) and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
"Employees are looking for evidence of ESG practices in areas such as supply chain, and also how organisations are giving back to the community through CRS programmes," says Dance. "For example, at Hays we have recently partnered with Trees for Cities, and we allow staff to use a volunteering day to plant trees in their local area."
He adds: "Effectively communicating to potential talent that your company places importance on diversity, ESG and CSR will encourage candidates to appreciate that your company has strong values, and will mean the individual is more likely to consider an offer."