The importance of meaningful work in the supply chain talent discussion

The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially changed the culture of work and the nature of the talent discussion. Many employees are working from home and using online meeting formats. However, there is still at least one constant, according to Lora Cecere, influencer and founder of Supply Chain Insights, based on her firm’s Talent Study 2020: “Employee satisfaction drives better work outcomes”.

“In the correlations of supply chain cause and effect, manufacturing companies with more satisfied employees have lower total costs and higher price-to-book ratios. Not only are costs lower, but corporate value increases,” Lora Cecere states. When it comes to talent management, companies should remember that talent is not a cost, but an asset. This is especially important when viewed in the context of the predicted shortage of skilled workers by 2030. “Senior supply chain leaders (baby boomers) are more satisfied than Millennials, and Gen X. European supply chain leaders are more satisfied than those in North America,” warns Cecere.

Employee satisfaction

Her key takeaway from the Supply Chain Insights Talent Study 2020 is that companies should focus on offering meaningful work in order to build employee satisfaction. “There is a strong correlation between job satisfaction and the belief by the individual that the work is meaningful,” she explains. Secondly, she concludes that finding the right skill set is still an issue in both Europe and North America, with problem solving skills being the most important attribute. Thirdly, the best managers foster ownership of projects and programmes, and this is more prevalent in European teams. Fourthly, clear communication of strategy and direction by the manager correlates to job satisfaction. And lastly, supply chain technology limitations cause frustrations, especially among Millennials in North America.

Talent as missing link

“Analytical skills are in short supply. The critical positions include demand and S&OP planning, which require a strong skill set in problem solving and internal influence management,” says Cecere. “Talent is the missing link. Universities need to focus on building planning skill sets. We are not doing a good enough job of transitioning supply chain understanding across generations. Likewise, we are not closing the gap with business leaders to understand the supply chain as a complex non-linear system,” she concludes.