Managing the Labor Shortage in Supply Chain Management

Labor Shortage in Supply Chain Management

Ask anyone in supply chain management, and the labor shortage is likely at the top of the list for ongoing challenges. Turnover is high, hiring is difficult, and ripples from the “great resignation” continue. The truck driver shortage continues, as well, and most warehouses are looking to automation to help with their employee shortage. With a new generation of workers that is less inclined to seek traditional manufacturing or manual labor positions, and it’s easy to see how the supply chain is hurting for employees.

A new survey from The Harris Poll confirmed that employers are struggling to find and retain employees, and points to high levels of burnout as a major culprit. According to the survey, 79 percent of employed Americans report experiencing burnout, and 35 percent of those say they are currently experiencing both mental and physical exhaustion. Among those actively seeking new jobs, nine in 10 report experiencing burn out. If there’s a bright side to the data, it’s that those same burned-out workers are speaking up about how employers can help prevent their dissatisfaction.

Tips to Manage the Labor Shortage in Your Supply Chain Operations

Among the job features that respondents are after is allowing for flexible work schedules, providing incentives and bonuses, recognizing employees for a job well done, and encouraging time off. Job seekers placed a high priority on health and safety, something worth noting for job openings on manufacturing and warehousing floors.

Also worth noting is the fact that hiring managers report that candidates want jobs that provide more fulfillment or meaning in their lives. That’s an opportunity for warehousing and manufacturing, and robotics is a good place to start. By offloading some of the most mundane and repetitive tasks to robots, employers can offer their staff jobs that require more skills and brain power. Going hand in hand with that, however, is ensuring you provide those employees with the right amount of training to take on those new duties.

Employers should also look at schedules and get creative. Employees want more flexibility in their jobs—the much talked about four-day workweek holds a good deal of appeal to employees. If there’s a way to make it work for your company, you might find an appreciative staff and bigger pool of applicants the next time you have an opening. If possible, allowing a day or two of work-from-home for your office workers can go a long way, also. When it comes to vacation time, a generous policy is appreciated, as is creating a culture where employees feel comfortable taking their allotted days off.

Another step to take in retention is allowing employees a voice and a seat at the table. Regular meetings that encourage staff to speak up about what’s working and what’s not helps them feel part of the team and that their voices matter—which they should if you want to keep vacancies low. Turnover not only makes your operations less efficient but hurts your bottom line. In the age of the labor shortage, going the extra mile is well worth your effort.