Preparing for Our Future: Recruiting Millennials to Supply Chain Management

Recruiting Millennials to Supply Chain Management | Transportfolio

In last week’s blog post, I highlighted the need for a cross-functional approach to attracting talented professionals to the company—especially supply chain management, which is facing a talent shortage crisis.

This week, I consider these challenges in the context of Millennials. How can supply chain management become a profession of choice for these individuals?

Keeping pace with the demand for talent in the supply chain industry

It is estimated that by 2018 the supply chain industry in the United States will need to hire an additional 1.4 million qualified individuals if it is to keep pace with the demand for talent.

Millennials, people born between 1980 and 1995, are a primary source of new talent. I recently participated in a Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals panel on talent management and gained some insights into how the profession can become attractive for this demographic.

Let's make supply chain management appealing

We must do a much better job at telling our own story. Supply chain management is an exciting and rewarding career. Positioned at the center of global commerce, the industry makes a difference in the lives of people across the globe by delivering the products they need, when they need them. Let’s tell this story—and not only to university students, but also to young people at the high school and middle school levels.

It’s also important to know our target audiences. For example, Millennials want a clear career path and guidance on what they need to accomplish, but without being micromanaged. They don’t like being treated like a number; Millennials prefer bosses who take a genuine interest in employees’ needs and ambitions. This can be difficult for leaders who have been schooled to maintain a professional distance from subordinates.

A new approach for a new generation

Building such demands into career programs for Millennials is challenging, and each company has its own approach. Here are some tactics that have worked well for us:

  • Create a growth mindset. Emphasize the opportunities for personal and career development, and the importance of learning from failures.
  • Infuse meaning into roles. Reinforce the big-picture significance of the work done by supply chain professionals.
  • Highlight the importance of corporate citizenship. Many Millennials look for companies that make a special effort to give back to the community.
  • Build a positive onboarding experience. Effective onboarding programs give new employees encouragement and direction. We strive to make sure that individuals emerge from these programs feeling confident (they will have the skills and technical know-how required to succeed), connected (to their teams, the company mission, and to each other), and motivated to do great work.
  • Map employee careers. Make a special effort to build a career map for each individual and monitor their progress.
  • Develop meaningful performance conversations.All too often, regular performance reviews are more about the process than finding out how the individual is doing. Focus on the need for authentic conversations about the person’s performance and giving actionable feedback.

Creating a new mission for the supply chain industry

If supply chain management is to fulfill its current and future roles, the industry must excel at attracting the brightest and most motivated young professionals. Let’s join together to make the supply chain industry a sought-after destination for career-minded Millennials.

Angie Freeman
Chief Human Resources Officer
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