group of logistics workers Photo 251925360 © Tigercatlpg
© Tigercatlpg

While labour shortages in the supply chain industry have been well-recorded for years, there’s been a resurgence in the labour debate since the pandemic.

The “Great Resignation” phenomenon plays a role, reflected in the scores of people quitting their jobs to reassess priorities and revamp life choices in the wake of the pandemic.

But the situation has definitely improved in the past year, with FRED unemployment data at 3.5% for July, down from a high of 14.7% in April 2020 at the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, and on par with pre-pandemic levels.

This astonishing rebound is no mean feat, considering jobs lost at the back of the 2008 recession took nearly a decade to recover fully.

That said, the supply chain industry continues to grapple with difficulties hiring competent labour. For recruiters, issues have compounded in the past couple of years as workers demand higher pay. Thanks to inflation, labour is not the only operational cost going up, pressurising margins.

To an extent, the pandemic has helped to clear smoke screens within the supply chain industry on the shortage of skilled workers. While there has been significant coverage of labour shortage issues within ground-level logistics jobs, like warehousing and trucking, the problem extends well into the white-collar space as companies find it hard to hire skilled tech workers.

Retention has remained a perennial issue, especially in companies with a predominantly millennial workforce that do not think twice about jumping companies when unhappy with their work environment.

The process of replacing a lost labour resource is tedious. To hire one skilled worker, the company will have to interview ten potential applicants filtered from a few dozen applications.

The pandemic caused a wave of tech adoption for businesses, accelerating digital transformation within companies. Unlike the ground-level logistics workforce, tech workers within the supply chain space are not tied to sectors.

The availability of working-from-home and hybrid work options enabled workers to jump companies, and even industries, at will. This forces companies to prioritise their existing labour force, as a happy workforce can be retained and will ultimately impact the bottom line positively.

With an annual retention rate of over 90% since its inception, and one-third of its employees crossing a decade, Canadian C3 Solutions has a solid case to make here. The company has been about thinking outside the ‘corporate box,’ listening to employee concerns, and spending time creating a happy and vibrant office atmosphere.

That said, a healthy culture is only half the recipe; employers must initiate incentives for workers to stay by investing in their future and offering career development opportunities.

“My growth over the years within C3 is an example. I joined the company at 23 as an HR specialist under Nicholas Couture, C3’s co-founder and CEO, who instilled in me values that have helped me evolve over the years, rising through the ranks to becoming president of the firm,” said Elise Crevier.

A study (subscription needed) by researchers at the University of Arkansas and University of Akron found that having more women in the logistics workplace saw better efficiency within the organisation. Gender diversity has been proven to improve trust between workers, with subjects in the study – be it men or women – behaving more co-operatively when paired with women.

Women constitute 39% of the total supply chain workforce in 2022, which is 2% lower than the year before. Increasing this ratio would positively influence company culture, while increasing trust and co-operation among the workforce.

The culture of ‘having each other’s back’ goes beyond celebrating birthdays or a monthly pizza party. The real work happens when the management puts its money where its mouth is – if the company stays with its employees through thick and thin, there is no need for them to seek validation elsewhere. Authenticity and sincerity within your messaging are key.

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.