May 2019 | Commentary | Smart Moves: Supply Chain Careers & Education Advice

Three Steps to Addressing the Staffing Shortages in Manufacturing & Logistics

Tags: Manufacturing, Logistics, Careers

As baby boomers in manufacturing and logistics look toward retirement, there aren't new workers to take their place. Millennial and Gen-Z workers just aren't interested in the work—and, as a result, valuable jobs are being left unfilled.

Dr. Greg Barnett, Senior Vice President of Science, The Predictive Index, 781-493-7535

But manufacturing and logistics employers can take some steps to attract the incoming workforce.

1. Diagnose the employee experience. Identify what drives employees and decreases turnover. With this diagnosis, find ways to make job offerings more attractive while complementing your company culture.

For instance, trucking is often seen as a lonely, solitary activity, with drivers largely confined to their vehicles. A trucking company could focus on experiences to ease the solitude—for example, paying for gym memberships across the country or paying for family members to meet drivers at the end of longer treks.

Similarly, manufacturing is often seen as an industry with few developmental opportunities and little upward mobility. Training and ongoing educational opportunities that offer a specific path to advancement may help to enhance the employee experience. In the "diagnose" phase, fully understanding all aspects of the employee experience and company culture informs how to maximize the potential of the workforce.

2. Redesign the business purpose. Determine what the business is trying to accomplish and use that to influence culture. This starts with identifying your company's higher-level purpose and aligning the employee experience accordingly.

For instance, companies that deliver food are "feeding America" and medical equipment manufacturers "create devices that save lives." The design phase is about asking the management team tough questions: What is the strategy? Who are the people? What is their purpose?

Once you answer these questions, it's time to identify whether your organization has the right culture to get there. A company that is improving the experience for truck drivers and communicating its mission to feed America will likely adopt a more collaborative, people-first culture where all employees clearly understand their role in reaching a greater purpose.

3. Hire the right talent. Assess current employees from every level and make adjustments to meet the talent and culture strategy. Start by optimizing talent, which enables you to align people strategy with business strategy, producing the best results. Reevaluating current employees and placing them in positions that utilize the full spectrum of their strengths allows you to identify and fill holes in the organization.

Creating career paths with numerous opportunities for employees to train on the job and discover their passions will not only add to the company culture but also decrease turnover. A manufacturer can offer continuing education opportunities and focus hiring based on preexisting skills, rather than looking for an employee with all the skills upfront.

Implementing these steps requires significant investment and time throughout the organization. By addressing the employee experience and changing the culture to place employees at the forefront of business decisions, organizations will drive people to put their hearts into their work. The perception of the company, and the industry as a whole, will adjust naturally, making it more attractive to talent both young and old and shrinking the staffing shortage over time.