Why Logistics is a Good Fit for Millennials
Companies are rightly concerned about the challenge of integrating Millennials into the workplace. The good news for our industry is that the supply chain profession offers opportunities that appeal to these young employees. Understanding this can help the industry attract and retain Millennials, as well as build careers that are rewarding for these individuals and their employers.
Industry Education – Make Sure They Know About Us
The first challenge is introducing Millennials to the logistics industry. This has gotten easier over recent years as awareness levels generally have increased, and more colleges have introduced supply chain degree programs.
We reinforce this education with internships. In addition to helping us assess whether a college student is a good cultural fit for our organization, the internship program exposes each prospective employee to the richness of a career in logistics.
Optimize Their Skills
Showing Millennials what their options are is critical. These young people value transparency; they are eager to know what lies ahead and what different routes are available to them as they progress.
Being clear about career possibilities also reassures Millennials that they will be fully engaged, another feature of the workplace that is important to them. In a recent survey of Millennials from 29 countries carried out by the consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, only 28% of the respondents felt that their current organization is making full use of their skills.
The mix of skills that this cohort brings to the workplace is unique to their generation, and companies need to find ways to harness these talents. An obvious example is their connectedness with new technology. Surely no other generation has grown up with technological innovation like this one has. There are ample opportunities in the logistics field to put this expertise to work. Make sure this is emphasized to attract Millennials to your workplace and keep them once they are there.
Emphasize Having a Sense of Purpose in Your Career
A clear sense of purpose is also high on Millennials’ list of priorities. This is confirmed in the Deloitte study, which found that six out of 10 Millennials identify a “sense of purpose” as part of the reason why they chose to work for their current employers.
Logistics roles and responsibilities can imbue purposefulness in a number of ways. Working on projects that have clear, beneficial outcomes for clients is one approach. For example, a freight network redesign that delivers positive results for shippers gives those involved a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Projects like these also provide important lessons, such as how seemingly small, tactical decisions can have a significant impact on the efficiency of logistics operations.
Another purpose-building technique we have embraced is visual management. Employees can see the outcome of their work on visual representations such as metric dashboards that are displayed in the office.
A sense of purpose is not only valued on a personal level; Millennials look for this quality from an organizational perspective as well. Again, logistics scores favorably. For example, a company’s efforts to support sustainability goals is one measure of corporate purpose, and logistics has a key role to play in helping companies to reduce the carbon footprint of their distribution networks.
Make the Work Environment Enriching
The richness of the work environment is a powerful motivator for Millennials. We have created job rotation programs for first-year recruits that enable them to experience different aspects of the logistics business. Assignments in various verticals—including food and beverage and paper and packaging—give individuals fresh experiences and prepare them for a wide range of roles within the organization.
Being given the opportunity to experience other cultures is another way to enrich a career, and as a profession that is international by nature, logistics offers distinct advantages in this area. Two of our younger employees are currently working on a short term assignment in Hanoi, Vietnam, and Shanghai, China, respectively.
We’re constantly refining our approach to integrating Millennials into the workplace. We recently started to develop guidelines for other generations of employees on managing young members of staff and how to communicate with them. This effort should be a work in progress, because it won’t be long before Millennials start to make way for the next generation of employees.