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Gartner Q&A : What Does the Future of Work Look Like in Supply Chain?

Q&A with Dana Stiffler, Distinguished VP Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice

As perceptions around the way we work shift, competition for supply chain talent is steep for both hourly and salaried roles. Chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) must now lead and inspire a unique mix of frontline, hybrid, and remote workers.

We sat down with Dana Stiffler, Distinguished VP Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, to discuss what leaders must do to attract and retain talent in today’s work environment. Dana is presenting her findings this week at the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo, taking place in London.

Q: The talent shortage seems to be an ongoing struggle in supply chain organizations these days. What happened?

A: For some years already, there’s been a development towards non-traditional work models such as gig work and digital nomadism. Younger generations especially want more control and flexibility over how, when and where they work. The pandemic has accelerated those shifts, and supply chain leaders now must ask themselves why they insist on fixed working hours and mandatory office time when their networks are global and always-on. If they want to attract and retain talent, they must reinvent work – for desk-based and frontline roles alike.

Q: Frontline roles, such as those that are based in warehouses or factories, appear to be less flexible by nature. How can leaders redesign those roles to make them more attractive?

A: Think about the activities within the role. There are many ways to improve the frontline worker experience when you focus on activities instead of treating an entire role as “onsite only.” For example, many machines can now be operated and monitored remotely. Using technology, shift schedule design can be delegated to the workforce to a certain degree, so workers are in a better position to align their work and personal schedules. There are many more frontline workers in the supply chain workforce than desk workers, so their well-being should not take a back seat. Providing autonomy will lead to happier workers and better business outcomes.

Q: How can supply chain organizations stand out from the competition and attract and retain the best talent?

A: A well-designed and communicated employee value proposition will pay off. Gartner research has found that the most effective employee attraction drivers (beyond pay, which must be competitive) for frontline roles are flexibility and well-being.

Flexibility in all aspects of work is not only what employees want. Our research found that flexibility also makes them 18% better at their job. Add to this investments in well-being – that is ensuring the use of physical and mental health and financial benefits - and two important steps into the future of work that have been made.

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