Finding and nurturing the right talent in the supply chain industry has been among the five most-critical issues cited by the advisory board to the University of Tennessee’s Global Supply Chain Institute for years.
The recent recession, ironically, was at least partly to blame. Feeling the need to cut costs in a down economy, companies went overboard with layoffs, losing employees with valuable (albeit expensive) supply-chain expertise. They took for granted that they would be able to pick up suitable talent from a deep pool of applicants when things got better.
What happened? First, baby boomers, who make up the lion’s share of supply-chain professionals, started to retire. Younger replacements are in short supply. And with the discipline itself rapidly evolving and becoming more challenging, there are very few people who are able to fill the gap.
So savvy supply-chain employers will realize that they need to start developing the talent they have—and also work on retaining their employees, so they don’t lose them to the competition once they’re trained. How?
1. Give yourself and other managers frequent opportunities to touch base with, encourage, guide or mentor your employees. Whether you’re giving them constructive criticism and ongoing suggestions for improvement, setting up an official or casual mentoring program, or making sure they know what career path lies ahead of them at the company, your employees need to know that they are valued now and that you have plans for them in the future.
2. Recognize the employees when they do a good job. Again, this can be as a simple as a public congratulations announced at a meeting or passed along through an email, or more complex, such as a tiered-rewards plan. If possible—and if someone has earned it—offer periodic bonuses or perks. It doesn’t always need to be money. You can treat a worthy employee to a paid day off or a continuing education opportunity.
In the meantime, if you work with an experienced recruiter for your strategic staffing needs, they can help bridge the skills gap. The cost of failing to fill that gap can be far more substantial than paying a professional to do it. Opportunity cost, the price of not finding the right person, or not finding them quickly enough, leads to work getting done badly or not at all, and employees burnt out by overtime. The right recruiter can help you strike a balance between paying for fresh talent and meeting your business needs.
If you feel that your supply chain talent supply is running dry, and you’re not sure you have the right people on board now to replenish it, give ZDA Supply Chain Professionals a call. We’re ready whenever you are to evaluate your company and your staffing needs, and work with you to make a plan!