Even before the pandemic shined a light on how fragile our supply chain is, the industry has grappled with attracting and retaining talent to meet demand.
With many roles in the field needing to be filled—for example, employment of logisticians alone has been projected to grow 30% through 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—managers must be prepared to not only better attract talent, but also to invest in existing employees to retain them for the long term.
When it comes to attracting the right candidates, managers should connect with their human resources departments to align on their specific hiring needs and focus on nurturing a strong talent pipeline. In today’s landscape, employers need to be specific about the opportunities that are available as well as more proactive than simply posting a job listing and waiting for resumes to rush in.
Here are some examples of ways supply chain managers can work to secure the market’s top talent.
1. Make recruitment an ongoing task. Companies as a whole should always be on the lookout for new recruits.
Often, companies will amplify their focus on recruitment only when they need to fill a role. Having only that small window of recruitment limits prospects and lessens the chances of hiring quality candidates, especially in the supply chain world since jobs are so in demand. Being actively engaged in the industry, such as participating in virtual supply chain educational conferences, can help create opportunities to meet candidates.
2. Strive for diversity. Diversity is critical for companies as it brings people of different educational backgrounds, professional experiences, and walks of life together to broaden the company’s collective knowledge. Increasingly, candidates are taking a closer look at companies’ diversity initiatives and favoring those that prioritize having a more diverse workforce.
Those in leadership positions need to take a closer look at their company’s recruitment programs and ask, “How can we reach a broader talent pool?”
For example, has the company traditionally only hired candidates with a certain educational background? Or does the company’s interviewing panel all share a similar background or experience that may influence their hiring decisions? By taking the time to review and assess recruitment practices, leaders may be able to identify opportunities to improve on their existing (or non-existing) approaches to increasing diversity.
3. Be specific. Job descriptions and listings can be extremely vague and non-discrete. Specificity in job postings can be a key factor in which candidates end up applying.
For example, if looking to hire a supply chain planning associate, employers need to list the nitty-gritty skills and responsibilities of that exact position so there are no misconceptions about what the role entails.
They must also be clear about any expectations of the position: Is the position one that focuses on operations, supplier relationships, or analytics? Is the expectation that the candidate be fully on-site or is there opportunity for remote or hybrid work? If the job description isn’t clear, candidates may lose interest or apply for the wrong position.
It is equally important to express the soft skills managers are looking for in a candidate. The supply chain sector has been greatly impacted by the ongoing talent gap. To mitigate the toll this has taken, many companies have implemented upskilling programs and have become increasingly open to hiring candidates that, though they might not possess all of the hard skills required for a job, do have the soft skills needed.
As such, some organizations are focused on finding talent with the right cultural fit and potential.
Additionally, being flexible with work experience requirements can help employers attract high-performing talent from other industries, such as technology. Recruiters can help employers craft job descriptions that will resonate with top talent from across industries.
4. Offer flexibility. For years to come, many professionals will expect the option to work remotely or to have flexible work hours. To remain competitive, more employers are starting to offer fully remote or hybrid positions.
According to a recent McKinsey survey, “nine out of 10 executives envision a hybrid model going forward” post-pandemic. While it may not be possible to offer completely remote or hybrid options for some jobs, when evaluating their hiring plans, managers should consider how much flexibility they can offer for specific roles. Offering such perks can help position the company as an employer of choice and drive applications while also broadening the candidate pool from which employers can choose from.
Once the right candidate is found and hired, the task of retaining that talent begins. In fact, a recent Adecco Group survey found that nearly two in five employees are changing or considering new careers.
Here are some measures managers should consider to aid retention efforts.
- Provide ongoing training and opportunities for continued learning. In the supply chain especially, employees need many technical skills and certifications to perform their job or to grow in their career. But in today’s competitive environment, employers need to be open minded to candidates with some, though not necessarily all, of the skills needed to do a job.
- Show appreciation for employees. Employees want to know that they’re appreciated and noticed for their time and effort on the job, so when managers take time to recognize workers, it can go a long way.
Providing on-the-job training and upskilling opportunities can help set up employees for success.
Additionally, employers can reimburse employees for professional development seminars or certifications relevant to their position to encourage their teams to keep their skills sharp. Professional development is an important part of any job, but by creating opportunities for employees to grow and learn, organizations can better position themselves as a partner to their employees rather than just a place of work.
While financial rewards like bonuses are usually appreciated they may not always be feasible to provide, so managers should also consider creative ways to recognize employees.
For some, a Wellness Day—where employees can take the day to rest and focus on their mental health—may be more meaningful than receiving a spot bonus.
The Adecco Group survey found that a majority (71%) of workers feel that having the right support for mental health at work will be important to them in the future. Companies that invest in building and creating working environments that better support the mental health of their employees is key to the success of an organization.
As companies continue to adjust their supply chain management strategies to meet changing environments, it’s important to do the same with recruitment and retention plans. Jobs within supply chains are crucial and in high demand, and long-term opportunities are abundant for those who are interested.
Taking the important steps to obtain and retain employees will result in a skilled, satisfied, and motivated workforce—improving the company’s operations all around.