What’s Driving Procurement Burnout?

Adam Callaby

May 31, 2023

Did you know that 55% of sourcing teams are experiencing higher levels of burnout than ever before?

It's a sobering statistic from our new Voices of Sourcing 2023 report, but sadly not a surprising one. In this blog, we dive into what is driving burnout as the procurement industry struggles to "do more with less" and how this growing problem might be solved.

What’s driving procurement burnout?

Supply chain disruption and market volatility were ranked among the top priorities of sourcing teams by the procurement professionals we surveyed this year.

Keelvar Voices of Sourcing Survey 2023
Keelvar Voices of Sourcing Survey 2023

Geopolitical tensions, inflation, and many ‘once in a lifetime events’ have meant unpredictability has now become a byword for sourcing. We also know that it’s piling pressure on teams to do more as they struggle to keep on top of yo-yoing pricing and capacity. Yet headcount isn’t following suite. For more stats from our new survey check out the full report here.

Recession increases workloads and burnout, but its flames aren’t always visible

As growth falters, some businesses will experience recruitment freezes, others, mass workforce reductions such as those already being experienced in the tech industry.

“Do more with less” is becoming an uninspiring motto for many departments (and global social media platforms), but it’s one procurement has already been wrestling with for years.

72% of respondents told us that they have a flat or declining workforce. That’s unlikely to change.

But it’s not just Keelvar's new report that backs up these findings. A Skills Dynamic survey of industry leaders found increased workloads (62%) were the most frequently cited reason for low retention rates in supply chain leaders, and that over half of respondents experienced continuously declining rates year-on-year.

With recession on the horizon for many, it’s possible that number might slow as fears over job security increase, but that’s certainly no cause for celebration.

It’s a time of uncertainty  and the lasting impact of the financial and cost-of-living crises isn’t always at the surface level of manager – employee relations. Recessions personally affect the lives of your sourcing teams and their loved ones, and it is often unhealthily masked by a negatively skewed work-life balance.

To prevent burnout and create positive working spaces, it’s up to sourcing leaders to make sure the latter isn’t the case.

The spotlight is on C-suite to do more for their sourcing teams

As businesses try to find more ways to save money and meet ambitious supplier diversity and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals at the same time, the number of sourcing events and non-cost factors that go into decisions will continue to rise.  

Did you know? Limited access to supplier data and staffing constraints are listed as the biggest barriers to responsible sourcing programs – Gartner

With ‘supply chain managers getting more seats at the boardroom table the spotlight is firmly on on leadership to make positive change. Procurement Leaders CPO Compass report found that 77% of CPOs expect to be involved earlier in key cross-functional planning in 2023 compared with 2022.

There is increasingly recognition of procurement’s strategic value, but it will come at the price of continuing to do more.

For those with budget for human resources, recruitment is hyper-competitive

Of course many procurement functions have budgeted to increase headcount this year. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get the talent through the door.

In February 2022, Andrew Daley, of Edbury Daley, the international procurement and supply chain technology recruitment consultants commented on how the recruitment pool was too shallow to meet demand. Daley spoke of how boardroom visibility was increasing the need for new skills – such as technology – in sourcing and further increasing talent scarcity.

Back to the Skills Dynamics survey, and we hear that 43% of supply chain and procurement professionals are concerned about skill shortages. 31% said difficulties with recruitment were a “significant issue." Throw in the earlier referenced retention rates, and sourcing team resourcing becomes an increasingly complex problem to solve.

But doing more with less is more possible than you might think. Our top tip on managing burnout against such a backdrop is that before you ask your team to do more,  ask them how you might help them do it. If they’re anything like the respondents of this Voices of Sourcing year’s survey, you’ll hear the magic words ‘automation’ (which we will cover in detail in an upcoming blog).


The manual tasks associated with configuring and running events are increasingly recognised as a wasteful component of strategic sourcing roles, and a leading cause of burnout that will only increase in the coming year. And it’s tough enough out there for sourcing professionals already.

If you could remove much of that burden with technology while simultaneously making your company a more attractive place to work for your current and future workforce, would you do it?

If the answer is yes, speak to a member of our team about how our solutions could be a game-changer for reducing team burnout. Then look out for a future Keelvar blog post where we talk about how to successfully bring automation into your organization and drive better sourcing outcomes.

Don’t forget to download your complimentary copy of Keelvar’s Voices of Sourcing report to discover the challenges and priorities of global procurement professionals for the year ahead. 

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