Only a Quarter of Supply Chain Workforce Fully Engaged, Turnover in Sector Is 33% Higher Than Pre-pandemic

Gartner recently highlighted the challenges and potential solutions for the integration of advanced technologies like AI and robotics into supply chains. According to Thomas Pocock, senior director, advisory, in Gartner’s Supply Chain Practice, there is enthusiasm surrounding these new technologies due to their potential to significantly enhance organizational productivity. However, he pointed out that their effectiveness hinges upon the active engagement of a productive workforce. Current data from Gartner’s Global Labor Market Survey in Q1’23 paints a concerning picture of this engagement: only a quarter of the supply chain workforce is fully engaged, and turnover in the sector is 33% higher than pre-pandemic times. Moreover, a mere 16% of the workforce is willing to go the extra mile in their roles.

The introduction of AI and smart robotics is often met with skepticism and change fatigue, signaling the need for a new strategy to ensure successful integration. He outlined three key areas that chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) should focus on to reverse the current slide in labor productivity:

  1. Integrating technology and people strategies: Organizations need to focus on the relationship between humans and technology when introducing new workplace technologies. Alongside investing in new tech, equivalent investment should be made in employee training, skills development, and knowledge curation. This approach will foster reciprocal learning, allowing employees to understand new technologies and see how their input is incorporated.
  2. Individual talent management: Valuable skills that are often constrained by rigid job descriptions can be unlocked by breaking down projects into smaller tasks and seeking skills needed across the organization. This approach allows for more flexible deployment of talent.
  3. Organizational design: CSCOs should use crisis situations and market opportunities to eliminate silos and find more efficient organizational structures. The spontaneous redesign of decision-making processes seen during the COVID era can be used to build resilience against new challenges, like persistent inflation or changing geopolitical scenarios.