Skills requirements for the supply chain workforce are changing fast, driven mainly by the growth in globalisation and the technology advances which will continue to transform the way supply chains operate.
Moreover, tribal knowledge; the inherent wisdom acquired and held by veteran employees, is under threat as industries feel the effect of an aging workforce. As recently revealed in Logistics Bureau’s 2015 Australian Supply Chain Report, the logistics and warehousing sector fields a workforce comprising nearly 40% of employees over 45 years of age.
The New Supply Chain Workforce: What’s Changing?
Careers in supply chain are in demand, but still there is a shortage of candidates with the right mix of skills to be effective at a transformational time in the industry.
In short, supply chain companies need more generalists, but can’t afford to lose the specialist knowledge held by employees who may soon step down from full-time employment and enjoy their well earned retirements.
It’s pretty much a seller’s market out there too, so if your company can’t offer something to make it stand out from other supply chain workforce buyers, hiring top talent isn’t going to be easy. Similarly, retention can be tricky when other employers are trying to lure your best employees away.
Preparing the New Supply Chain Workforce
So what does it take to hire and retain the right talent in 2016 and beyond? Three words can answer that question—visualise, prioritise, and collaborate!
Visualise: Perhaps I should really say “help employees to visualise”. What I’m talking about here is providing clarity around the potential career path of each individual in the supply chain workforce. Give your employees a view of their growth opportunities within your organisation. Companies which do this enjoy better employee engagement and retention.
Prioritise: Unless your company is very small indeed, it’s time to shift the approach to recruitment and raise its priority. If you want to hire the best talent you can afford, waiting until you have an appointment to fill is probably a mistake.
Companies which have the most success in hiring for the new supply chain workforce are those which remain constantly on the lookout for recruits. When openings do become available, those companies already have their finger on the pulse and target potential talent which they’ve already identified.
Collaborate: The need for collaboration kicks in when your new hires are on board. Don’t waste any time in pairing up new employees (who should join your company with a broad range of supply chain knowledge, albeit mostly theoretical), with those who’ve been with you for a few years.
Using mentoring and knowledge transfer, your old hands can impart that all-important specialist knowledge to the new people. This will also help with engagement (and therefore, with retention), since new employees will see your investment in them and at the same time, will quickly start to become absorbed in your company’s culture.
Keep the Tribe Alive
It’s often the early days of employment that carry the highest risk of employees succumbing to offers from competitors. Early sharing of tribal knowledge between veteran and new employees can generate a sense of vested interest and make your new hires feel part of something special—which of course, they are. Once they know that, they are less likely to be tempted away.
Never forget that just like customers, it’s easier and less expensive to retain and develop existing employees than to keep looking for new ones—especially in a seller’s market.
So what’s the takeaway here?
Get proactive with recruitment, hire the people you want (not just the one’s you can get) and share tribal knowledge to help with engagement and avoid a retirement brain drain. It’s not easy to hire the new supply chain workforce. These steps will help to prevent it from being a repetitive exercise.