3 Supply Chain Talent Trends to Watch in 2023

By Veena Variyam | February 28, 2023 | 0 Comments

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More than half (54%) of all supply chain organizations report that an inability to access talent has interrupted or curtailed business activities in their organizations during the past year. Gartner’s chief supply chain officer community echoes this. When asked their perception of the labor market in late December, almost 70% said that it will remain tight over the coming years and retention will be a significant challenge.

From the quarterly Gartner Labor Market Survey, we received responses from more than 2,500 supply chain employees on their economic and job market outlook, job search behavior and employment value proposition. The analyses of this data reveal key trends that will impact supply chain talent strategies for 2023.

Optimism About Economic Outlook and Job Availability on the Decline

While in 2021 supply chain employees had a strong economic outlook, their optimism about general economic conditions and the economic future of their function declined in 2022 to the lowest point in the last four years. Only 43.3% of supply chain employees displayed somewhat-high to high confidence in the economic future (see figure above). Job optimism has also started a downward shift late last year. While employee perceptions of job availability are not as low as they were in 2021, the decline in the last quarter of 2022 reflects supply chain employee concerns about a potential economic slowdown and the implications of widespread layoffs in the tech sector.

Retention Is Critical, But Engagement Is Even More So This Year

Considering that the supply chain workforce’s perception of job availability is flatlining in the recent months, it is no surprise that the percentage of employees who are actively seeking jobs has dropped to 19.6%. That’s a decrease of 6% from the previous quarter, after a steady increase throughout 2022. While this is a positive trend when it comes to retention, another more concerning trend requires attention. Both discretionary effort (which measures an employee’s willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty) and intent to stay (which measures the employee’s desire to stay with the organization) of the supply chain workforce dropped rapidly in Q4 2022. The decline in these indicators of employee engagement require supply chain leaders to redouble their efforts on employee engagement to ensure continued productivity and better business and employee outcomes.

Supply chain organizations will have to build a human-centric work orientation that centers on the individual as the stable pillar to meet employee expectations. To do so, supply chain organizations must prioritize flexible work experiences, enable intentional collaboration and drive empathy-based management.

Respect In the Workplace — Or the Lack Of — Drives Frontline Worker Attrition

Supply chain organizations are increasingly investing in employee experience and employee value proposition. Employee value proposition (EVP) is the set of attributes perceived by the labor market and employees as the value they gain through employment by the organization. While compensation is the top EVP driver for attraction and attrition of the supply chain workforce, respect deserves attention as a critical driver of attraction and retention for frontline staff (see next figure).

Frontline employees seek a fair degree of respect from their organizations and want those organizations to invest in their personal growth. In fact, a recent Gartner survey on frontline worker experience reveals that more than 85% of frontline supply chain employees say it is important for their organization to see them as a person, not just as an employee. Yet only 33% feel that it is easy to find an organization that sees them this way. Supply chain organizations that evolve their EVP to a more human deal will have a competitive advantage. A human deal focuses not just on the frontline worker, but on the whole person; not just on experience at work, but on experience in life; not just on features to provide, but on feelings to inspire.

Veena Variyam
VP, Quantitative Analytics & Digital Innovation
Gartner Supply Chain


To find out more on this topic, Gartner clients can review:

Supply Chain Executive Report: Supply Chain Success Depends on the Frontline Employee Experience

Supply Chain Talent Monitor: Labor Market Update 3Q22


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