Employee Retention

5 challenges supply chain HR executives are up against

Mark Bell | January 11, 2022

Supply chain HR executives

Supply chain HR executives are battling many of the same challenges they always have been, while also contending with new obstacles – whether it’s hiring, dealing with the impacts of Covid-19, the vaccine mandate, the early retirement movement, and the list goes on, all while trying to retain their essential frontline workers.

To combat these obstacles, companies need to focus on how they are going to create an environment that leads to retaining existing and incoming workers. But the ever-growing list of challenges that management and HR executives face makes this a daunting task.

Top 5 considerations for supply chain HR executives

As leadership works to create retention strategies that will help retain their workers, here is an outline of the top 5 things HR executives should be considering as part of their retention strategy:

#1 Safety concerns

As the pandemic continues to persist, and the hyper-contagious Omicron variant sweeps through communities, once again supply chain frontline workers are assessing how safe they feel in their work environment.

This requires leadership to take on the responsibility of protecting employees by implementing and enforcing facility policies. However, with workers having varying levels of concern about the virus, it’s difficult to manage without making some parties feel ostracized.

While vaccine mandates, and in certain states mask mandates, offer reassurance for some  staff, it also can create another battle for HR executives.

#2 Executing on any vaccine mandates

Unless the Supreme Court blocks the vaccine mandate again, all private U.S. companies with over 100 employees are required to mandate vaccines or weekly tests across their workforce by January 10, 2022. This is in an effort to stop the spread of Covid and protect frontline workers. Companies that don’t comply face hefty fines.

Unfortunately, many reliable, long-term employees are leaving as a result of this decree, adding to the already thin workforce.

#3 Avoiding employee burnout

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing employment is still down by more than 200,000 jobs from February 2021, and while hiring is up for transportation and warehousing jobs, it still is not high enough to meet the staffing needs.

Between the struggle to hire quality candidates that stay for the long run, and more employees out sick with the Covid, existing employees are spread very thin. These workers are left with the stress of filling the gap, often meaning mandatory overtime. This, along with anxiety around contracting the virus themselves and dips in company morale is leading to an increase in employee burnout.

As workers burnout, it only perpetuates the growing turnover crisis.

#4 Creating flexible work environments

Hourly workers have increasingly requested flexibility in their schedules, especially since the pandemic hit. The inability to work certain shifts surfaced as people faced new situations, like the loss of childcare.

Flexibility in shifts helps employees feel they have control, especially during such uncertain times, and also provides a better work-life balance. This ideology can positively impact  the company culture of an organization and as a result its reputation as an employer.

#5 Finding and keeping talent

Hiring enough hourly workers has been a challenge for the supply chain for years, and the pandemic only accelerated this problem, leading to a labor shortage crisis. Now, in addition to a dwindling talent pool, companies are struggling to keep their existing workforce.

Between the concerns outlined earlier and more people deciding to take early retirement, companies are seeing a large surge in turnover. Creating a retention strategy to reduce this attrition will likely be the biggest challenge for HR executives in 2022.

Finding the balance between empathetic leadership and maintaining operational efficiency is a tough recipe to perfect, and can be overwhelming.

Using employee engagement software to retain your frontline workers for the long run

Many supply chain companies have turned to WorkStep as a solution. It provides the perfect ingredients of gathering continuous, anonymous frontline worker feedback in real-time and the ability to track how improvements made have directly impacted retention. Organizations that partner with WorkStep have seen a reduction in turnover by 26-36%.

Tune into your frontline with WorkStep

With the frontline employee engagement platform that delivers the real-time insights you need to take action, retain your workforce, and drive your business forward.

Book a demo today


Mark Bell

Mark Bell, VP of Marketing | markbell@workstep.com