By Marisa Brown
Millennials working in the supply chain management field don’t fit the mold that the older generation assumes for them. APQC’s recent study, Understanding Millennials in the Supply Chain, reveals findings that counter the popular myths of millennials as job-hoppers with unstable work patterns. Organizations that understand this generation will excel in offering appropriate professional development and career progression that ultimately leads to higher employee retention.
Who they are
Millennial respondents in APQC’s research are between the ages of 22 and 37, or born between 1980 and 1995. These employees can be classified as your “not-so-average supply chain millennial” for a number of reasons.
First, millennials in this field are getting the education to support their career ambitions, and three-fourths of survey respondents (75 percent) started their career in supply chain. APQC found 60 percent of the millennial workers in this survey completed formal education in supply chain management and/or logistics – 43 percent with an undergraduate degree and 23 percent with a graduate degree in this field. Clearly, this generation has a desire to work in the supply chain field.
Millennials in supply chain also value new developments in the field and want to stay up-to-date. These workers plan to complete continuing education programs in the next 12 months (65 percent) with nearly three-fourths doing so to advance their careers (73 percent). These young workers are committed to the profession (84 percent), and many believe they can make a difference (81 percent).
“There are ample opportunities to solve problems, collaborate across different business functions, plus make decisions that impact profitability and customer satisfaction,” says one millennial participant.
This research counters the myths that millennial workers are job-hoppers and not consistent in the workplace. In fact, 60 percent of millennials participating in the survey are still working in the area where they began their supply chain careers, and 69 percent have worked for only one or two employers (38 percent and 31 percent respectively).
Millennial workers also showed stability in the field. Nearly 70 percent reported three or more years of supply chain experience, including 45 percent working between five to 15 years in supply chain.
In addition, these millennials are thinking long-term with 84 percent expecting to work in supply chain management in five years. Organizations can ensure even more consistency with their millennial workers by focusing on job satisfaction and next steps.
Job satisfaction and next steps
In this research, 94 percent of participants were very or somewhat satisfied with their SCM career, and 83 percent were very or somewhat satisfied with their SCM job. They like how the supply chain field is challenging and dynamic, offers ample opportunities to solve problems, and needs attention every day to meet customer needs.
“The supply chain field is innovative, and companies steer their strategic direction through supply chain procedures,” says one millennial.
Millennials share a variety of praises and frustrations in the workplace around their supply chain function. More than half of the millennials in the survey (56 percent) report the challenges of the job and the work itself are what they enjoy about working in the field. On the downside, the top of the list is lack of a clear path for career progression (36 percent). These young workers also voice concern around lack of clear work processes (33 percent) and ineffective leadership (24 percent). The big picture reveals a young workforce voicing frustration with an uncertain future and their relationships with senior leadership. This reality can provide a to-do for leaders to address and focus on.
Actionable steps for organizations to consider to retain millennial talent include providing:
This research was a joint project among APQC, APICS, and Supply Chain Management Review. Additional information is available in the full report, Understanding Millennials in the Supply Chain, in APQC’s Knowledge Base.
APQC helps organizations work smarter, faster, and with greater confidence. It is the world’s foremost authority in benchmarking, best practices, process and performance improvement, and knowledge management. APQC’s unique structure as a member-based nonprofit makes it a differentiator in the marketplace. APQC partners with more than 500 member organizations worldwide in all industries. With more than 40 years of experience, APQC remains the world’s leader in transforming organizations. Visit us at www.apqc.org, and learn how you can make best practices your practices.
Marisa Brown has more than 25 years of experience in business, research, writing, speaking, and consulting. Currently, she focuses on the in-depth needs of APQC’s members in supply chain management and product development as she develops and oversees APQC's supply chain management research agenda. She leads APQC’s supply chain team that conducts research to provide insights into benchmarks, best practices, and process improvements in supply chain planning, procurement, logistics, manufacturing, product development, and innovation.
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