Lack of innovation fuelling supply chain labour woes

Caroline Chumakov of Gartner’s Supply Chain Practice warns that CSCO role is being compromised by historically high levels of staff turnover

Low labour-productivity levels are seriously challenging the role of chief supply chain officer (CSCO), Gartner says. 

In the opening keynote at the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo – taking place from May 8-10 in Orlando, Florida – Caroline Chumakov, Director Analyst of Gartner’s Supply Chain Practice, said  labour productivity levels “are historically low, due to lack of investment in workforce innovations”. 

She added that a clear symptom is this is that staff turnover is 33% higher in supply chain organisations compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“While that may paint a discouraging picture,” she said, “it also provides an excellent basis for supply chain leaders to experiment and rethink how they unlock, mobilise and augment the workforce to greater productivity.” 

Chumakov recommends CSCOs focus on unlocking individual potential, community potential and technological potential in support of workforce enablement to reverse the trend. 

Each area, she says, “can unlock significant productivity gains and be harnessed together to deliver on the legacy objectives that CSCOs most prioritise”. 

These she lists as:

  • Individual potential  “High-demand skills are often already available in supply chain organisations but are too often trapped by the confining nature of the job description.
    “CSCOs can unlock more skills and flexibility by breaking down projects into component tasks and seeking skills needed for those tasks across the entire organisation and even beyond it.
    “This can be applied to challenging positions requiring multiple skills. Often these complex positions can be distilled into a handful of core roles that can be more effectively aligned to individual employee strengths.”
  • Community potential  “Organisations can leverage crisis situations and market opportunities as a reason to breakdown silos and find new, more efficient organisational structures.
    “These spontaneous reorganisations happened at many companies during the initial disruptions of the COVID era and can be productively harnessed to build resilience in the face of new challenges, such as persistent inflation or a potential economic downturn.
    “The nature of these big challenges demand a new, community-driven approach where people come together across reporting lines and even across organisational boundaries.
    “It also requires decision-making that is continuous, within the context of the extended supply chain and connected to critical stakeholders.” 
  • Technological potential  “New technology solutions, such as actionable AI and smart robotics, can make work easier and less mundane for employees, but employee mistrust of these technologies threaten to stymie the full set of benefits on offer.
    “All new ways of working should be designed with the human-technology relationship in mind. Organisations should also prioritise reciprocal learning – the opportunity for employees to safely make sense of new technology, and technology can learn from human input."
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