Workplace 4.0, or the new digital workplace, not all about data-driven processes, smart devices and the internet of things; it’s about hiring and retaining talented employees to extract the best results from the implementation of new and advanced technologies. Simple, repetitive work in both manufacturing and administrative industries can be automated, but we will always need human brains for hire.


Companies are changing what they buy, we need new suppliers from different markets; end users are putting revised requirements on the table all the time. It’s a bonus for procurement to be able to participate directly in the sourcing process and show where they can add value in this field. For example, the traditional I.T. category has expanded to include telecommunications and packaged systems solutions and has become a high-value category with multiple and complex commodities.  Software, communication devices and electronic components which require a greater level of skill to manage will be sourced more frequently.

Job descriptions need to be re-written and a different approach is needed to hire and retain these skilled employees. People are increasingly being hired for fixed-term contracts and project work in these types of procurement roles rather than being offered full-time permanent jobs.  Much of the work is not location-specific and does not require adherence to strict office hours. To understand how to manage these workers, we have to know what drives them at work.


The job seeker wants to work for an organization that, in no particular order:

  • provides opportunities for ongoing learning, growth and creative challenge
  • has an equitable reward system that recognises success
  • allows time and location flexibility in working practices
  • employs far-sighted leaders that support collaboration and innovation
  • supports a team-oriented work culture based on open communication and feedback
  • has a pro-active approach to ethics and transparency
  • promotes sustainability and recognises the “triple bottom line” — financial, social and environmental measures of success
  • knows how to have fun (within limits)


Are employers ready to provide everything on the wish list? According to a recent Deloitte study, today’s millennials place less value on visible, well-networked and technically-skilled leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers, inspirational, personable and visionary.

Organizations that want to keep pace will not only have to upgrade technically, but work on their organizational structures, flatten hierarchies and adjust their corporate culture, even soften some maybe outdated workplace rules.  The key to success in retaining talented employees is for organizations to have the structure and policies that support the new flexible working conditions.  Human Resources managers are still scratching their heads about how to devise suitable reward systems, manage worker performance and provide training, especially for part-time employees and freelancers.


 Traditional methods of upgrading skills such as classroom training and on-the-job coaching may not be suitable in the Workplace 4.0.  Continuous lifetime learning will have to be provided as roles evolve and advances in technology demand changes in job content.  There will be a greater need to provide on-line facilities for e-learning so that everyone, including remote workers, can keep pace with the developments in the profession.


There is already a blurring of the boundaries between work time and leisure time. Some conflict areas are arising such as actual or perceived electronic surveillance and having to be available or be on standby every waking hour.  Companies must develop strategies for a healthy balance between security, privacy and trust in their workers, applying the same level of management and administrative support to those that check into the office every day and those who work remotely.

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