The ongoing supply chain talent shortage is a crisis that’s been wreaking havoc across the supply chain management industry. While companies have been struggling to find, hire, and keep people with the right skills and expertise over the last few years, it’s evident that COVID exacerbated these talent shortages in many ways. In particular, the need to adapt digitally throughout the pandemic has resulted in many transformative changes in supply chain planning including advanced Cloud-based technologies and digital transformations. These profession-wide changes—in addition to talent’s shifts in work-life priorities and other concerns—have affected the way supply chain experts are considering new roles and responsibilities.
The last three years have also been full of non-stop disruptions. With millions of workers volunteering to exit the workforce on a global scale, it’s no surprise that businesses need to pivot in order to meet the needs of their people. So, what exactly should employers do to improve the employee experience amidst ongoing transformative changes?
In our latest Big Ideas in Supply Chain video podcast, Bob Ferrari, Managing Director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research group chats with Alexa Cheater, Director of Product Marketing at Kinaxis about the need to improve work-life balance and offer workers a sense of purpose in their jobs. In this episode, Bob and Alexa dive deeper into the global challenges that are driving the talent shortage, and what businesses can do to adapt and find the right people during these tumultuous times.
Here are some of their key discussion points.
The changing talent landscape
The impact of talent shortage on businesses has been considerable over the last few years.
With COVID causing many to leave their jobs for different reasons, along with large numbers of baby boomers choosing to retire, a lot of institutional knowledge, experience, and mentoring resources were lost. This led to many organizations struggling to recapture this lost knowledge.
Bob points out that this challenge also created an opportunity for companies to identify broken tools and processes. This led to many organizations coming to the realization that, “in supply chain tactical planning, it’s not just the planning, it’s also the execution that you have to account for in the planning process,” he says.
According to Bob, this has created space for new skills for strategists and planners in supply chain planning. No longer is it essential to have previous experience in supply chain management. It’s now more important to have the right skills, since the job could change in the next six or nine months. Many organizations are realizing the combination of hard skills, soft skills, and collaboration skills is the key to success moving forward — and they’re looking for talent that has ingenuity, persistence, and dedication.
So how do you find and keep this highly sought-after talent?
Adapting the workforce to put people first
Many employers want to know what they can do to keep today’s top supply chain talent in a role, and more specifically, what exactly these individuals are looking for in their positions. For Bob, employee retention means adding value, both on a personal and organizational level. “I think workers seek a sense of purpose in their work, in their families, and in the communities.”
“It’s about making a difference in the organization, and for society, that I work for a company that (…) recognizes me or my people for the job well done, that believes in causes that I believe in,” he says.
The effects of the pandemic have encouraged employees to reframe how they view and value work-life balance and ways they can impact their society at large. People are looking to make a difference and feel like they’re part of a larger solution, given the current state of the world.
Moreover, people are becoming more conscious of the way they’re managing their time, which has resulted in many rethinking their career paths in exchange for more flexibility. This trend leaves a lot of space for companies to fulfil some of these existing gaps in the workforce.
Bob recommends removing redundancies that are frustrating to workers as a first step into implementing these necessary changes. “There’s a few dimensions I think, certainly in automating mundane, inefficient and redundant tasks because that frustrates workers to no end.” By removing these mundane tasks—particularly in supply chain planning processes—he believes employers will have more time to grow their people’s analytical, team leading, collaboration, and communication skills for a more efficient workplace. In addition to growing their skills, giving employees a sense of purpose while offering direction and motivation to achieve those ends will encourage top talent to stay and grow within their organization.
There’s a lot for organizations to gain by putting their people first and humanizing their workforce so employees don’t feel like a productivity number, and that starts with good leadership.
[Learn more: Survey says leadership and talent development are important to supply chain professionals]
The future of supply chain management
Supply chain management is an exciting line of work that’s constantly changing. To succeed today, employers need to find and retain talent who can change along with the demands of their roles. That means looking outside of those with supply chain experience to find candidates with a combination of soft and hard skills. In a competitive job market, companies also need to offer added value to attract and retain the best talent. That means respecting their work-life balance, appealing to their desire to feel like they’re part of making a larger impact in the world, and removing mundane tasks to free up employees to level-up other skills and grow in their careers.
By positioning supply chain planning at the forefront of innovative strategies that can have an impact in the world and, as Bob says, “making careers in supply chain management the coolest and most in demand for new students,” organizations can reap the rewards no matter how the industry evolves moving forward.
To explore this topic further and find inspiration to help fuel your talent plans in the coming year, watch the full video podcast here. Want to catch up on other episodes of our Big Ideas in Supply Chain podcast? Click here.
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