Technically adept supply chain millennials deliver results, but unrealistic about promotion...

12 August 2015

More than three quarters of “millennials” working in the supply chain profession have unrealistic expectations about promotion, according to a study.

SCM World and APICS surveyed almost 600 supply chain and logistics professionals around the world, and found 76 per cent believed millennials – those born between the early 1980s and turn of the millennium – had unrealistic expectations about the speed and frequency of promotion. The survey found 65 per cent of millennials in the survey also thought this.

But 82 per cent of all those surveyed believed millennials used technology and data skills to deliver fast, effective results. Some 90 per cent of millennials thought this.

Of those surveyed, 80 per cent said a career in supply chain gave them a high level of job satisfaction and personal fulfilment, while 67 per cent said supply chain was a career choice where future opportunities for advancement outweighed the risks of obsolescence.

The two organisations said the study showed cross-functional collaboration, building trust and collaborating with key customers and suppliers, data driven decision-making, communication and influencing skills, and the ability to manage organisational change were considered the most important skills.

However, it said there was a gap between this belief and the reality in many companies. Although 95 per cent of respondents said cross-functional collaboration was important, only 54 per cent believed their supply chain organisations were well equipped for this.

The report said: “Closing these gaps is vital if supply chain is to continue to deliver value at a strategic business level and help companies to compete effectively in the global marketplace.”

The study also showed that a closer partnership between supply chain and HR was vital, the researchers said.

According to the study, only 29 per cent of supply chain organisations have access to dedicated HR resources. Some 17 per cent believed HR fully understood their strategic priorities and talent requirements, while 35 per cent said HR’s support is poor or very poor, compared to 25 per cent who rated it as good or excellent.

SCM World and APICS said supply chain organisations with dedicated HR support, typically those in larger firms, were better served and more satisfied.

The survey also indicated high levels of concern about transferring knowledge from staff close to retirement, and also managing younger workers successfully. The report said: “Millennials are perceived as underestimating the value of experience and having unrealistic expectations about the speed and frequency of promotion opportunities. But they also have a number of desirable qualities, not least, the ability to use technology and data analytics to achieve fast, effective results.”

The report said supply chain organisations needed to educate colleagues in HR and more widely about supply chain talent requirements, and there needed to be a stronger relationship with HR.

It said firms should consider re-evaluating the use of coaching and mentoring to help transfer knowledge from experienced practitioners to younger staff and should engage with local colleges and universities to build awareness among students of supply chain as a rewarding career option.

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