Is taking a pay cut in procurement ever worth it?

If you’re an employee right now (and most of us in procurement are), there has never been a better time to be one. Following the Great Resignation, there is full employment or near-to full employment in most developed economies at the moment, meaning that if you’re looking for a new procurement opportunity, you can take your pick. 

Organisations everywhere are struggling to fill procurement talent shortages, and are – as a result – having to do more and do better to entice potential staff, including increasing salaries, offering more benefits, and offering more flexible work. In this environment, when procurement professionals are in hot demand, is it ever worth taking a pay cut? 

Is taking a pay cut in procurement ever worth it?

The simple answer right now might be ‘but no procurement professional should have to?’, but the full answer is, in fact, much more complicated. 

Here are three situations where taking a pay cut might actually pay off for you in a number of important ways: 

1. When you want a better work-life balance 

There’s little doubt that the last few years have been incredibly hard on procurement professionals. So much so, that most of us are currently feeling overwhelmed, if not totally burnt out, and more of us than ever are quitting. 

And one of the reasons for this is that many procurement professionals simply cannot have the work-life balance they crave, because the workload at some organisations is simply too high. 

Many procurement professionals believe that long hours will automatically equate to a higher chance of career success, but this isn’t true.

Research into productivity found that after about 50 hours a week, the average professional’s productivity starts to backslide, and at 55 hours a week, any extra hours worked are essentially pointless. 

Given this, a decent work-life balance should absolutely be on your radar, and is definitely something worth taking a pay cut for.  

2. When you’ve hit the salary ceiling 

Few people outside of human resources teams know how salaries work, so here’s an interesting fact: once you’ve been in a role for a certain period of time, you may hit what is called your ‘salary ceiling’, meaning that you won’t be able to receive any more (substantial) pay rises. 

And in this case, it’s almost always worth going backwards so you can go forwards. 

Every role in procurement has what is called a salary band, meaning that it has a salary range for the amount of experience and tenure in a role. Unfortunately, perpetual pay rises are often just not possible. 

If you think you’ve hit your ceiling, taking a pay cut could be a good idea. If you do go elsewhere and take a pay cut for this reason, though, it’s worth asking about the future trajectory of pay rises in that particular role, and of course, any other potential career opportunities at that organisation as well. 

3. When you want to do something more meaningful to you 

If you’re someone who has set out to make a meaningful difference in your procurement role, then there’s good news: there has never been a better time to work in procurement. 

Increasingly, organisations are seeking to become more sustainable, diverse, and inclusive with their supply chains, meaning that there’s ample opportunities for procurement professionals to make the world a better place in more ways than one. 

Of course though, not all organisations are prioritising these components yet. 

If you don’t feel like you’re making a meaningful difference at your organisation, it may be worth taking a pay cut and moving elsewhere to ensure you do. 

After all, you’re likely to be at least 20% happier if you feel like the work you do matters, which will, in turn, positively affect your productivity and ultimately, your career. 

Taking a pay cut is a big decision, and you have to ensure that the benefits pay off for you personally. In what situation would you be happy to take a pay cut? Has this worked out for you in the past?

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This article was originally published on November 8, 2022