Attracting and Retaining Millennials for the Supply Chain Industry

Attracting and Retaining Millennials for the Supply Chain Industry

Strategies for attracting and retaining Millennials for the supply chain industry.

This is part one of two in a series examining the role of Millennials in the supply chain industry. Part one highlights strategies for attracting and retaining top Millennial talent.   

For the college graduating class of 2015, Jimmy Carter has always been a smiling elderly man who shows up on TV to promote fair elections and disaster relief. Electric cars have always been humming in relative silence on the road. American tax forms have always been available in Spanish. There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.

Since 1998 Beloit College has released its ‘Mindset List’, giving us a look at the “cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college.” The List for this year’s graduating class represents a singular profile of students born in 1993 who are part of a larger, increasingly more influential generation – Millennials. With supply chain industry leaders lamenting a growing talent gap, tapping the Millennial generation may be key to filling that gap.

Who are Millennials?

To help us understand how to attract Millennials and why they could give new life to a graying profession, let’s examine who they are and what motivates them. Millennials, those born after 1981, are generally highly educated – though often saddled with debt and underemployed – digital natives who are decidedly collaborative by nature. They’re delaying marriage and parenthood and instead engaging in pursuits of higher education and travel, fueling their strong sense of optimism. Supply chain companies should be actively seeking to attract these Millennials and leverage their strengths to build a strong supply chain industry outlook.

Attracting Millennials

A growing number of university program offerings reflects a strengthening partnership between academia and the supply chain industry, a strategy many companies are relying on to attract and recruit top candidates. Joining existing programs and supporting the establishment of new programs, such as smaller supply chain certification programs, are effective ways to draw top talent. Further support of academic programs through joint curriculum building and offering internship opportunities help to build strong early relationships with students and will have a positive effect on recruitment efforts come graduation time.

Consider non-traditional channels to promote job openings. The frequent use of social media by Millennials has been well documented. Social media can be used to attract great supply chain talent. Furthermore, using social media for the promotion of job announcements establishes brand awareness and allows for more informal candidate engagement, something Millennials find particularly attractive. Similarly, creating visually appealing job descriptions will help to get more out of job postings.

Compensation plans should reflect motivations by which Millennials are incentivized. Different from their older counterparts, Millennials prioritize flexibility and work mobility over salary when considering a job offer. And, with total outstanding student loan debt topping $1 trillion in 2014, Millennials are favoring companies who offer tuition reimbursement programs.

On-Boarding and Retaining Millennials

Of importance to Millennials are an employer’s social values. They seek employers who they believe are endeavoring to accomplish meaningful work. The ability of a company to articulate, promote, and authentically operate by its core values will determine its success in retaining Millennials.

Millennials seek work environments that foster professional development and growth. In fact, according to the Young Entrepreneurs Council, almost a quarter of Millennials believe training and development to be the most valued benefit from an employer. Creating and implementing mentoring programs for Millennials allows companies to leverage the experience of more seasoned employees while creating growth opportunities for Millennials.

When asked about traditionally structured performance reviews, 80% of Millennials said they would rather receive feedback in real-time, making it clear they desire immediate feedback on job performance. Structuring projects in smaller portions and planning frequent check-ins on progress will keep Millennials on task and allow for more nimble operations.

The high percentage of Millennials reporting their desires to work abroad presents a notable advantage for international supply chain companies. Actively promoting and encouraging international work opportunities ensure the protection of human capital investments long after training ends.

The second part of this series will move beyond attracting and retaining Millennials to examining the supply chain application of Millennial skill sets and will paint the landscape for future significant Millennial contributions within the supply chain industry.

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