How to Successfully Recruit a Millennial in the Supply Chain Industry

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

Member Insights by Spartan Logistics

Like it or not, this is no longer the supply chain industry your parents or grandparents worked at.
Ask a Millennial (the generation born between 1985 and 2004) to name his or her top five exciting and rewarding careers, and there is a strong chance that supply chain or logistics professional isn’t going to be on that list. Instead, the response will read something along the lines of tech startup founder, urban farmer, non-profit professional, information technology, or even health nutritionist. Millennials rank
work-life balance second only to salary when it comes to making career decisions. In 2002, the average salary of Logisticians was $53,000. Today, the median annual earnings of Logisticians are nearly $74,000, the top 10 percent were earning over $108,000 per year depending on which facet or level they entered.

It is an issue of critical importance to this industry as the Baby Boomers, who currently make up the majority of supply chain management positions, near retirement. At the same time, Millennials are projected to become the largest living generation in the U.S. by 2025. Remember that these are potential entry-level employees who need to be hired, trained and mentored before they can rise to the ranks of upper management—and that takes time.

So, how do we make the supply chain more appealing to this demographic? We need to sell them on the challenges and advantages of the job, rather than the stability of a long-term career. Logistics careers are rarely boring— the word boredom is not in the vocabularies of most Millennials. Beyond big money, they are looking for a job that is rewarding and flexible. The question is how can the supply chain industry use this to its advantage and draw the next generation in?

There is no one simple solution when it comes to successfully recruiting this generation into the supply chain industry. Instead, Human Resource (HR) departments should focus on a mix of the following:

1. Rewarding Challenges

They will not be content to do the same tasks day in and day out and will find the process of problem-solving and finding new ways to make systems more efficient and eco-friendly, more intriguing and rewarding.

2. Work-Life Integration

Instead of having two separate lives – one for work and one outside of work – this generation believes that their job isn’t just a career, it’s their life, too. In order to have a fulfilling life, Millennials need positions that seamlessly integrate into their personal schedules.

3. Technology

Millennials’ entire lives revolve around smartphones, video games, wearables and cutting-edge technology, so make sure they have the best available tech when it comes to their tools in their work area.

4. Collaboration

Millennials were raised in a culture of collaboration. From kindergarten through college, group work was the norm in ways unseen just a few decades ago. Due to this, the Millennial workforce will expect those who work with them to be equally collaborative, and willing to freely share ideas and workloads that some may not see as fitting in the typical management structure some of us are accustomed to. Instead of a taskmaster, they want their managers to serve a more supportive and developmental role.

5. Perks

The potential hires you are looking for were raised on stories about tech industry jobs with great perks and benefits. Paid vacation, a summer company picnic, and a basic 401(K) plan are not going to grab the attention of new talent. Instead, think of innovative ways to structure your benefits, such as offering flexible scheduling policies, 0 days of paid time off (PTO) a year and a few sick days simply aren’t going to cut it. While this may seem like a big outlay, imagine what happens five to 10 years down the line when your core staff is retiring and you have no replacements.

6. Focus on the Good

This is a very exciting time for our industry!  Today, the supply chain profession focuses on finding ways to incorporate new technologies into our systems to make each stage more efficient, eco-friendly and cost-effective. This offers Millennials the opportunity to come into our established field and think creatively to make major changes that can result in game-changing breakthroughs and profitability. We all need to remember to convey this excitement during the recruiting process. Don’t become defensive if the company you are employed with hasn’t made changes in the past decade or longer.

For Millennials starting out in the workforce, the supply chain is a great place to get a strong understanding of the world economy, globalization, international cultural differences and many other important areas that are of interest to them and benefit their careers. To attract them to a supply chain career in the first place, organizations should consider following the suggestions outlined above. Only then can your company secure the vibrant and innovative workforce it will need to continue competing well into 2020 and beyond.