September 2016 | Commentary | Smart Moves

Instill Passion, Purpose, and Leadership To Attract and Retain Logistics Talent

Tags: 3PL, Education & Careers, Logistics, Supply Chain

Walter Lynch is CEO, Zipline Logistics, 888-469-4754

The talent gap in the logistics field is vast, touching everyone from truck drivers and warehouse staff to supply chain and third-party logistics (3PL) professionals. Finding the right people, and fast, is an ongoing struggle.

Seventy-nine percent of 3PLs feel they are unprepared for the looming labor shortage and its impacts, states the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' (CSCMP) 2016 Third-Party Logistics study. To address the talent gap, 3PLs and other supply chain employers must alter their practices to:

  • Communicate purpose. Companies must invest heavily in curriculums that instill passion for the industry and your organization's purpose from day one. Share strategic direction and be transparent. A clearly articulated mission and vision is critical.

    Companies must have a meaningful purpose for doing business. When they clearly communicate purpose and empower employees, they develop a strong culture, which results in high talent referral rates.

  • Be authentic. Boosting your brand with marketing, awards, and social media is not enough. To attract and then retain employees, you must practice what you promote. Today's workforce can see through fluffy perks and messaging. They want the real deal: professional development and a supportive, progressive environment. High turnover indicates lack of authenticity. Facades can entice talent, but can't hold on to it.
  • Foster leadership. Companies must identify, develop, and empower the next generation of leaders and managers. Most of the talent gap occurs in the middle and senior management ranks, according to CSCMP. People enter, but ultimately leave the logistics field because they foresee lack of opportunity.

    Providing your entire talent population with opportunities to shape their careers can mitigate the middle management talent gap. Promote from within and ensure employees have what they need to succeed. Invest in their careers with training and unbiased support.

  • Promote agility. The list of necessary skills for logistics professionals is ever expanding. Technology is rapidly changing current job roles and duties. Workers must be able to learn and adapt to changing needs, or they will be squeezed out of our growing industry.

    "Technology and data-flow management positions, many of them not yet created, will absorb more of the overall employment pie," says CSCMP. Investing in technology training is a must. Rather than eliminating roles or hiring new people, help current employees transition into the new positions you need. Give them options early and provide the necessary skills training to those who want to grow with your business.

  • Encourage ongoing education. Too often, companies only address employee training during onboarding, promotion, or transfer. Yet continuing professional education and development is imperative, now more than ever. Provide learning opportunities such as company-paid access to webinars, association events, and conferences, or consider building your own ongoing education program. Gain a competitive advantage by creating programs unique to your company, its purpose, and goals.

    Hiring challenges in the logistics sector include attracting the best talent, developing leaders, and retaining high performers. Employers must step up and build aggressive, ongoing training programs that instill passion, share purpose, provide clear leadership and promotion tracks, are authentic, and ultimately, diminish turnover.






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