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Times are tough for companies looking for supply chain workers. As Baby Boomers retire and more high school seniors are pursuing four-year college degrees, the blue-collar workforce is shrinking, creating a labor shortage. While this is great for supply chain workers looking for a job—they're a hot commodity—the labor shortage is creating a challenge for companies looking to fill positions. Finding reliable employees can be difficult. But employees are incredibly important to any business, especially a business with as many constraints as the supply chain.

So, you know that you need to be able to find and retain the best supply chain employees. But how?

The Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Employees

The blue-collar labor force is the same as any other type of workforce: they want to be appreciated...and they want benefits. Here's what you can do to improve upon your employees' status.

  • Provide in-house training. Rather than trying to find employees who have already been trained in your niche systems, products, industry, and processes, consider providing in-house training. Without in-house training, your pool of candidates may be considerably narrower. One reason it's difficult to hire is that there are so many different systems today, and many companies are looking for experts in specific systems. 

Further, many employees are looking for opportunities that offer in-house training, especially if their end goal is to improve their own skillset. By giving employees the opportunity to learn more about the systems they're interested in, you can make your position more desirable.

  • Diversify your recruitment. There are groups of people who are looking for blue-collar jobs but haven't traditionally been hired, such as women. These groups are more likely to be entering into the workforce now, as barriers are being broken down. But for many, those barriers still exist. If you want to find employees who haven't otherwise been hired, consider diversifying your recruitment strategies.

    There are many who still believe that women shouldn't be in certain positions, such as ones in supply chain management. Hiring these employees will make it easier to find employees overall while also adding some much-needed perspective to your organization.

  • Be more flexible with the required qualifications. Are the qualifications on your job listing really required? Often, companies will post listings asking for skills and qualifications that just "sound right" or fall within standard expectations. You might ask for five years of experience when only a couple would be necessary. Consider that your qualifications could be cutting out employees who would otherwise suit the tasks. It's often better to err on the side of encouraging too many people to apply, as you will be better able to narrow your choices down during the interview process.

  • Examine your company culture and perks. Is your company a place people want to stay? Why are employees leaving? It's possible that it has something to do with your company culture. If your company culture isn't resonating with your employees, it's likely that they will leave. Today, many employees aren't strictly looking for the best salary; they're looking for the best benefits and a company they can believe in. In fact, a recent study showed that 56% of workers rank company culture as being more important than salary. The better and stronger your mission is, the more loyal employees are likely to be.

    Remember, company culture doesn't happen overnight. You need to take the time to audit your company culture to be able to improve it. Consider adding soft benefits and perks to your company, which will improve its culture and make your employees more enthusiastic.

Hiring employees is only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to hiring employees, you also need to make sure that you retain them. Often, hiring employees for supply chain labor is easy while retaining them is not.

Supply chain workers have a difficult job; consequently, they need to feel appreciated. If your supply chain workers don't feel as though your business cares about them, they are going to be far less likely to stay on board long term.

Remember re-hiring and re-training an employee costs a lot of money. It's always better to keep the employees you have. By paying attention to your employee's wants and needs, you can improve your overall acquisition and retention.

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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