Baby Boomers are bailing out on the workforce in droves. Both Pew Research and The Washington Post have estimated that 10,000 Americans born between 1946 and 1964 retire every day. There simply aren’t enough members of Generation X (65 million, born between 1965 and 1980) to replace them. That’s why, to future-proof the supply chain workforce, the time is now for companies to focus on attracting talent from the next two up-and-coming generations: Millennials (90 million, born between 1980 and 2000) and Generation Z (75 million, born between 2000 and the present).
The latest issue of MHI Solutions, from the second quarter 2018, addresses this topic head-on. In “Millennials and GenZ: The Key to Future-Proofing Your Supply Chain Workforce,” a variety of experts weigh in on three areas companies should be focusing on now.
The first is to gain a better understanding of where the aspirations and characteristics of these two generations both converge and diverge, says Angie Freeman, Chief Human Resources Officer for third-party logistics services provider C.H. Robinson. With more than 65% of her company’s staff falling into the Millennial demographic, she avoids generalizations but notes, “Millennials are looking for career paths and professional development. Further, they want to work for companies that are good corporate citizens and are making an impact.”
Although a limited number of GenZ employees work at C.H. Robinson, Freeman has been gearing up for their impending mass entry into the workforce. She’s determined “GenZ shares many of the same traits around adaptability, technology, innovation and creativity as Millennials, but they’re a bit more pragmatic and realistic. They’re also more interested in finding solutions by themselves. They’re the do-it-yourself generation that grew up learning different skills by watching YouTube.”
Based on those insights, the second area of focus for companies should be aligning those attributes with corresponding careers in supply chain. According to a recent report from APICS, “Millennials in Supply Chain,” of the 676 Millennials aged 22 to 37 surveyed who are currently working in supply chains, 75% actively sought a career in supply chain.
Further, 66% of Millennials responding to the APICS survey said they enjoy their supply chain position because of the opportunity to work with the latest technologies, something they inherently prefer. And, as noted before, Millennials and GenZ value opportunities to learn and further develop their skills. The APICS’ study backs that up, says APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi: “We were pleased to see that 87% of Millennials surveyed feel that working in supply chain will help with their personal growth and development.”
To address both generations’ desire to work that makes a difference, it’s critical that supply chain companies connect workers’ roles to the greater good, says John Frehse, Senior Managing Director at Ankura Consulting.
“At the end of each shift, they need to feel a sense of accomplishment. Unlike early generations, working hard is simply not enough. Millennials and GenZ do not have a problem with working hard—if the work is meaningful—yet, they both want to have the power to make their own decisions and drive results. If they feel it’s not possible to make an impact, they will leave,” he explains.
“However, seeing immediate value in your work is challenging in the supply chain. It is incredibly valuable to our society, but that is difficult to see if you are sorting packages or driving a lift truck in the back of a warehouse, Frehse continues, adding that means employers will have to change their approach.
“First, these new generations want to experience the entire supply chain and see the product all the way to the consumer to better understand the customer fulfillment process. Just moving the boxes is not enough,” he says. “Employers have a responsibility to identify and socialize how every role is important and why, then constantly reinforce it with these specific generations.”
Finally, companies need to foster stronger relationships with educational institutions, particularly at the primary, middle and high school levels, says Roadmap 2.0 co-author and Workforce section researcher Steve Hopper, Founder and Principal of Inviscid Consulting.
“Colleges and universities have done a great job putting good supply chain programs in place,” he notes. “Now, there needs to be a greater emphasis on business partnering with the educational system to better align the preparation of students for the jobs of the future—including those in supply chains. It’s encouraging to see more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-focused programs out there.”
Eshkenazi agrees. “An important first step is to work with local universities or high schools to give students a glimpse of what a career in supply chain could look like and the opportunities it represents,” he says. “It’s never too early to develop skills for this field.”
To gain more insights into ways to develop Millennials and GenZ into the workforce of the future, read the full article here.