This Deficiency Is Set to Become the Greatest Threat to Supply Chains

Published : December 18, 2014

man-using-a-fork-lift-in-a-warehouseSupply chains are the powerful backbone of business, but much like a literal spine, they need to be properly protected against damage or weakening to function at their highest capacity. In a fluctuating market, many perceived threats take the form of vendor coordination or a shortage of products— but it's increasingly likely that it's the employee base itself that needs supply chain risk mitigation.

Minimal retraction in existing positions, an outdated view of the industry and a surprisingly anemic talent pool are only a few of the problems facing a company in need of logistics professionals. Smart companies need an "entrance strategy" in place to weather the shift in the logistics workforce; here are a few reasons why.

Logistics Has an Image Problem

Without insider knowledge of the industry, logistics doesn’t seem very glamorous.

As author Anne Fisher recently explained to Fortune, the idea of a guy driving around a rusty forklift in a dusty factory somewhere isn't an accurate picture of logistics, but it is undeniably an enduring one. The force behind logistics is a lot of head down, keep-the-lights-on type of work, but the risks of never coming up for air or rebranding the niche are plain to see in today's dwindling applications.

Companies need to put effort into making themselves attractive to potential logistics hires by putting a spotlight on their positive corporate culture and opportunities for gratifying work and advancement.

Higher Expectations from Potential Employees

The employment market is dog-eat-dog, but that hasn't stopped millennials from expecting—and demanding— quality positions that satisfy their need for community, challenge and even flexibility.

As Lori Smith explains to The 21st Century Supply Chain, with current logistics leaders aging out, retiring or simply switching careers, these millennials have the power to make these demands in a resource-depleted hiring market. Specific efforts to highlight attractive logistics positions and align them with these desires is an excellent step in supply chain risk mitigation, but it's one target that a lot of companies are currently failing to hit.

While it's true that there is an abundance of would-be-workers beating down doors, the logistics arena remains conspicuously quiet by comparison. This observance should, in turn, compel companies to work on opening their doors in invitation instead.

Expanding Companies, Contracting Talent Pool

The lackluster number of potential supply chain professionals entering education for the industry isn't the only problem impacting the future talent pool. Successful companies grow and with that growth comes the need for increased logistics capacity through the addition of professionals. Add to the mix the fact that logistics departments haven't been hit with the same layoffs or expendability as other company positions and you have what SupplyChain247's Kusumal Ruamsook & Christopher Craighead call a "perfect storm" of supply chain talent deficit.

With all three of these factors in play, the same old bait-and-cast method of talent gathering and selection is going to fall far short of what's needed, leaving logistics departments in the lurch.

Planning for the Future

Whether you need logistics professionals right this moment or have an eye towards the future, it's time to look critically at what you offer to a potential employee and adjust it, if need be. Supply chain risk mitigation is much more than vendor management or technological innovation— properly leveraged, it emphasizes the need for human talent at its core.

Don't wait for a position to vacate or be created to discover just how shallow the talent pool really is— take steps now to make a welcoming, intriguing environment for professionals that have their pick of potential employers.

Remember this, as well: for every talented potential that you fail to snag, you also run the risk of a competitor snapping them up.

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Topics: Supply Chain Workforce Management

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