Ever since the pandemic has hit us, supply chain resilience has been tested beyond anyone’s expectations, as a cascade of manufacturing, logistics and global shipping disruptions resulted in a slew of operational logjams and chokepoints. The challenges were exacerbated by an unprecedented labour shortage in essential front line operational roles such as truck drivers, warehouse staff, and customer fulfilment. At the same time, the surging consumer demand made things even worse.
These challenges will not be easy to overcome, and it has prompted companies to fundamentally rethink their supply chain, talent management processes and digital capabilities. A recent report by well-known supply chain management expert, Bob Ferrari, titled, ‘Your Workforce – the Weakest Link in the Supply Chain – The Importance of Supply Chain and Human Resources Strategy Alignment for Talent Recruitment and Retention sheds light on these factors.
The Great Resignation
In India the War of Talent has been gaining quite a lot of attention, there has been a constant debate about acquiring digital skillsets across sectors. As supply struggles to match demand, people costs and attrition numbers will continue to be high, as per an industry report by Aon.
For many businesses, these shifts are giving more power to the workers and driving their demand for richer compensation and benefits packages, rewarding career paths, and better working conditions. This increases the burden on managers and recruiters prompting businesses to better align their HR and SCM operations.
Reimagining warehouse and fulfilment workforces
The pandemic fuelled the explosion of online ordering and direct fulfilment, forcing marketers, and distributors to restructure their businesses and supply chain ecosystems to keep pace with the online demand and ensure seamless delivery.
Businesses face a changing workforce profile in warehouses and distribution centers around the globe. This is increasing the demands on HR managers, who are responsible for supervising difficult recruitment and retention requirements in changing workplaces marked by greater automation, robotics, and other technology-driven processes. Businesses will benefit from increased automation and stronger tighter integration between their supply chain and HR platforms.
Bridging the transportation labour shortage
The report by Bob Ferrari paints a bleak picture for trucking and logistics workers. It uses a variety of global incidents to discuss truck driver shortages and gaps in the supply management system. Judging by the ongoing crisis, attracting and retaining a transportation management workforce this year will require new levels of innovation and investment from industry players, both in technology and workforce management. Advances in self-driving trucks, for example, could help alleviate shortages, but progress is slow. Meanwhile, drivers are looking for better training resources and on-the-road services along that can give them better opportunities to connect with their employees, customers and loved ones.
Filling next-gen factories
Businesses had great difficulty, even before the pandemic, to find skilled workers to populate their factories onshore and abroad. An aging manufacturing workforce is largely to blame for this. In case of India, while we do have a large young population, the lack of skilled workforce creates a hinderance especially considering the increased focus on using technologies for manufacturing.
Simultaneously, the spread of automation, everything from robots and IoT sensors, and 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies – is putting pressure on workers to learn new skills and capabilities to stay ahead and relevant. The most successful enterprises in the coming years will be those that can combine Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, and Human Capital Management (HCM) systems in innovative new ways to drive next-generation manufacturing capabilities.
The Big opportunity
In Ferrari’s view, industries are finally recognizing the SCM workforce gap and the growing need to drive digital information initiatives across the board. The good part is that governments, working in collaboration with industry leaders, are taking concrete steps to make occupational and community college training – the foundation for future skilled workers – more accessible and affordable than ever before.
By Kaushik Mitra, Senior Director, Cloud ERP, Oracle India