Why You Should Hire Older Individuals to Work in Procurement

Learn why it makes sense to hire older individuals to work in procurement and take advantage of their talent and experience.

By Hugo Britt | December 5, 2023

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In this article, we’ll cover why it makes sense to bring experienced, seasoned individuals into the world of procurement, regardless of the number of candles on their birthday cake.

The retirement myth

Not long ago, there was a pervasive notion that employees would inevitably ride off into the sunset at a certain age, armed with a gold watch and a pension plan. Well, times have changed. The modern workplace is witnessing a revolution where the concept of a lifelong career has transformed into a series of professional adventures. The notion of a mandatory retirement age is becoming as outdated as fax machines in the age of Zoom calls.

Today, the average employee tenure is only 4.3 years for men and 3.8 years for women. The once iron-clad assumption that someone would work for the same company for decades has been replaced by a more dynamic and flexible job market. This shift has rendered the retirement barrier irrelevant. Why should HR be concerned if a sexagenarian employee is likely to leave within five years? So will everyone else!

Experience is priceless

Now, let’s talk about experience. Older workers bring with them a treasure trove of knowledge acquired over years of navigating the twists and turns of the supplier landscape. In procurement, where relationships are as crucial as the deals themselves, having individuals with a wealth of experience can be a game-changer.

Imagine the benefits of having someone who has weathered the storms of negotiation, knows the ins and outs of supplier relationships, and can predict market trends like a seasoned fortune teller. That’s the kind of expertise that can’t be Googled or downloaded—it’s earned through years of practical experience.

Seasoned employees bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the workplace, the kind of expertise that cannot be Googled or downloaded but earned.

Decades of networking

Older workers often come with a book of professional contacts that rivals the most connected LinkedIn profile. These seasoned professionals can open doors, make introductions, and facilitate collaborations that might be challenging for their younger counterparts. In a field where relationships matter, the value of an expansive network cannot be overstated.

Adapting to the digital age

Now, some skeptics might argue that older workers may struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancements. But the reality is that they don’t need to learn how to code; procurement technology is becoming more user-friendly by the day. Learning to navigate online processes is no longer the exclusive domain of the tech-savvy millennials.

With intuitive interfaces, user-friendly platforms, and an abundance of online resources, the age-old stereotype of older workers being technologically inept is rapidly fading away. In fact, their years of experience might make them even more adept at understanding the practical applications of technology in a business context.

Senior employees in senior roles

Outside of Robert De Niro’s performance in The Intern, it’s likely that older workers may be more inclined to step into senior roles than entry-level positions. But this is not a drawback; it’s a strategic advantage. The landscape of procurement is evolving, with junior and tactical roles becoming increasingly automated. This shift allows experienced professionals to focus on strategic decision-making, relationship building, and high-level negotiations—areas where their years of experience shine.

Having older workers take the helm in senior roles is not about resisting change; it’s about leveraging the strengths of each generation to create a well-rounded and dynamic procurement team.

Now, let’s delve deeper into the broader context of diversity and inclusion, specifically addressing the importance of combating ageism.

Combating ageism

We touched upon the retirement myth earlier, highlighting how the traditional idea of a mandatory retirement age is fading away in today’s dynamic job market. However, it’s not just about breaking free from age-related stereotypes; it’s also about actively combating ageism.

Bias against individuals based on their age can hinder the potential of a diverse and inclusive workplace. By recognizing and challenging age-related stereotypes, we pave the way for a more equitable work environment—one where individuals are valued for their skills and experiences.

This doesn’t mean that we should pretend age-related challenges don’t exist, because it’s true that older people have different barriers to overcome than their younger colleagues. A powerful example is the recent push to destigmatize menopause in the workplace.

As you build your dream team, don't shy away from hiring older individuals to work in procurement. Embrace the wisdom and experience that seasoned professionals bring to the table.

Breaking down barriers

A team that spans generations brings together a mosaic of skills, perspectives, and experiences. This diversity not only fuels innovation but also fosters a collaborative environment where the strengths of each generation complement one another. 

Embracing a diverse age range in procurement is not just about filling seats; it’s about breaking down barriers. Age should not be a limiting factor in career growth or opportunity. By actively combating ageism, organizations create a culture where individuals of all ages feel empowered to contribute their unique insights and skills, ultimately driving the success of the entire team.

A procurement team that represents a broad range of ages fosters inclusivity and understanding. It sends a powerful message that everyone’s voice matters, regardless of when they entered the workforce. This inclusivity translates into a positive and collaborative work environment, where employees feel seen, heard, and appreciated for their individual contributions.

Strategic advantage in a multigenerational world

As we navigate a globalized and interconnected business landscape, having a procurement team that mirrors the diverse world we operate in is a strategic advantage. A multigenerational workforce enhances cultural intelligence, allowing organizations to navigate complex client relationships, negotiate deals, and understand market dynamics from a well-rounded perspective.

Expand your hiring pool

Finally, expanding your hiring pool to include more older works makes sense in a tight labor market. Hiring older individuals to work in procurement is not just a nod to diversity and inclusion; it’s a strategic move that can elevate your team’s performance to new heights. The modern workplace is a melting pot of ages, experiences, and skills, and acknowledging the unique strengths that each generation brings can be the secret sauce for success.

So, the next time you’re building your dream procurement team, don’t shy away from those gray hairs and laugh lines. Embrace the wisdom, experience, and network that older workers bring to the table—you might just find that it’s the missing ingredient for procurement excellence.

For more procurement career advice, check out our series of articles below:

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