People & Skills
Happy May Day / Bank Holiday! A Time for Labour and Fertility?

It is a public holiday in the UK today, but that is not true for most other countries. Rather, it is May 1st , Labour Day or International Workers day which is the holiday in many European countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain. In the UK, we tend to call it the May Day Bank Holiday but it is the first Monday in May rather than a set date.

May Day for the UK is not particularly linked to the Labour or socialism aspects of the holiday. It is more about ancient pagan traditions of fertility, growth, the new season of crops growing in the field, the May Queen and dancing around the Maypole. A somewhat bacchanalia feast in fact by origin!

So what procurement connections might we draw? Well, if we are thinking about Labour Day, we might think about whether public procurement should be doing more to encourage employment. Using “social value” clauses in contracts, for instance; or encouraging suppliers to employ people who have been unemployed for a long time; or pushing suppliers to increase the apprenticeships they offer. Yet we run into the paradox of public procurement; we want suppliers to offer better value for money, which means becoming more efficient, which can mean employing fewer people.

So perhaps we should look at our own “Labour”. What can we do to make our own procurement staff happier, more effective, with better career prospects? What do the training and development programmes looks like for procurement functions? With the new EU directive being transposed into national legislation, are all our people ready to take on those new challenges?

Or perhaps we should focus on the fertility aspect of May Day. I don’t mean encouraging all our staff to start or increase their families; but let’s think of fertility as new growth. Where could we do things differently to make procurement more productive and successful in our organisation? We might think about the technology we’re using; perhaps we need to find some “green shoots” or new systems to help us work better. Or is it the relationships with others in our organisations, budget holders and service users for instance, that need renewal and a fresh approach?

Anyway, if you are celebrating a holiday weekend, we hope you are enjoying it, and we will be back with more serious commentary tomorrow!

(The picture here is a cropped version of a photograph of a May Queen of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada circa 1877).