Winning Over Next-Gen Talent Requires a ‘We Before Me’ Approach

By Caroline Chumakov | August 06, 2021 | 0 Comments

Supply ChainBeyond Supply ChainSupply Chain Strategy, Leadership and Governance

As human beings, we differentiate ourselves from other species in our “we before me” inclination. We hunted and gathered together because we were more likely to survive. We recognized the importance of teaching younger generations our group’s conventions and creating space for cultural evolution.

Millennials and Gen Z (and what we might call “next-gen talent”) are those subsequent generations that will allow our supply chain organization to navigate future challenges. But if CSCOs hope to attract and retain them, they will need to return to the very roots of human nature. Rather than asking employees and candidates: what can you do for me? CSCOs should be asking:

  • What do we stand for as a supply chain organization?
  • What do we have to offer next-generation talent?
  • What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind?


We explore the concept of revolutionizing talent by winning with Gen Z and millennials in the July executive report (available to Gartner clients) and in the accompanying podcast, which is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.


Thought-leading CSCOs recognize the value of more human-centric talent strategies and leverage these key actions to tap next-gen talent for supply chain:

Define a Compelling Supply Chain Purpose

Gen Z and millennials are seeking a career where they can contribute to a shared organizational purpose. These are the generations that read mission statements and expect cultures that are built on social purpose.

Top 25 supply chain leader Johnson & Johnson has acknowledged this shift and has leaned into a purpose-driven recruiting approach. The J&J career landing page describes unique product innovations such as “refrigerated drones that deliver medicine to the ends of the earth,” and “scalpels that think.” The site emphasizes the importance of diversity in translating these innovations into reality and describes J&J’s commitments to global public health and sustainability. The site intentionally focuses on the shared purpose that incoming employees will find if they join J&J.

This highlights an opportunity for many CSCOs to connect their supply chain roles to a more tangible purpose. How do your supply chain’s products and services contribute to society in some way? What kinds of products or solutions are eventually delivered to consumers? In what ways do your products protect or prevent harm to the environment?

Align Your Employment Value Proposition to Next-Gen Values

Supply chain leaders have become increasingly aware of the importance of the employment value proposition (EVP) in attracting and retaining future talent. In our 2021 People and Purpose-Centric Survey, we found that 49% of supply chain leaders will be aligning their EVP to Gen Z and millennial values in 2021 to attract these two generations:

Gartner defines an EVP as the set of attributes that the labor market and current employees perceive as the value they gain through employment with the organization. EVPs feature some subset of attributes within five major categories: rewards, opportunity, organization, people and work.

Align your EVP to the attributes that the next-generation workforce cares about and ensure that you can deliver to them. Gen Z prioritizes learning and development, career growth, coworker quality, and social and environmental responsibility. Millennials prioritize financial rewards, recognition, work-life balance, flexible work and career growth.

Offer a Variety of Development Opportunities

Gen Z and millennials want to join an organization that will invest in them as much as they invest in their work. And investing in next-gen talent through development also paves the way for cultural evolution of supply chain.

As such, human-centric CSCOs are architecting opportunities for more dynamic development and transfer of knowledge:

  • Rotation programs: Lenovo has a global supply chain rotational program that targets candidates from across the globe studying supply chain operations, business, engineering or related fields. Participants take part in four rotations (into four disciplines) over the course of two years before being placed into a full-time position.
  • Apprenticeship programs: GE Appliances partners with local manufacturers and educational institutions in Louisville, Kentucky, to upskill local talent for manufacturing roles. Manufacturers provide the hands-on training, while the local community college provides relevant course work. After two years, each student earns an applied associate degree in advanced manufacturing technology.
  • Inclusive leadership programs: Cargill incorporates inclusion nudges into everyday talent processes, which are nonintrusive mental pushes that nudge leaders away from biases and prompt inclusive behavior. For example, leaders might be trained to act as bias champions who identify potential biases and ask questions for succession planning sessions.
  • Multigenerational Knowledge Exchange: With increasing baby boomer retirements, a “brain drain” is looming. CSCOs should identify where in the organization there is the highest risk of knowledge loss (e.g., manufacturing) and incorporate knowledge transfer mechanisms into daily workflows:

Next-gen talent are pressuring CSCOs to return to the core behaviors that make us human. If you’re seeking to win over Gen Z and millennials, you will need to leverage a “we before me” approach in your talent strategies and communications.

Caroline Chumakov
Senior Principal Analyst
Gartner Supply Chain

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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