The distribution industry is approaching a crossroads. With a workforce that is aging by the day, companies are having a hard time attracting and retaining employees across all levels of their organizations. According to Gallup Daily tracking, only 32% of employees in the U.S. are engaged. Employees are looking for work-life balance, flexibility in time, role, and location, and the opportunity to work with the latest advancements in technology.
These are all boxes that the distribution industry struggles to check off. With rigid work schedules, challenging work environments, and frequent unavoidable overtime, employees often struggle to find the work-life balance they desire. Companies can be reluctant to make capital investments in technology due to how quickly advancements and changes are taking place in today’s world. Additionally, training employees across many different job functions is both time consuming and costly, often leaving little opportunity for employees to expand their skill set. However, companies who are unwilling to adapt to new employee expectations run the risk of continuing to lose top talent to competitors, either in or out of the industry. If companies aren’t willing to invest in their employees, they may be pushing their employees to stop investing in them.
Historically, companies have looked solely to monetized incentives to attract talent - something that is not moving the needle as much as it did in the past. With the talent pool continuing to get smaller, companies are challenged to think differently around attracting and retaining their employees.
One proven action to consider is dedicating efforts to improve operational processes. This is because operations affect nearly every facet of a company. By optimizing even one area of their operations, companies can save resources that in turn can be invested back into other areas or teams. As we’ve written about before, finding your operational “needle in a haystack” – something that could shave as little as a few seconds off a highly repetitive process – can pay an organization back in thousands of labor hours and millions of dollars annually. Those seconds of savings can provide the resources necessary to invest in an employee engagement program geared towards retaining employees. Gallup estimates that companies could lose up to $600B due to low productivity resulting from lack of engagement. So, implementing new technologies and building performance-based rewards programs are well worth the investment to maintain productivity and improve engagement.
Another way companies can attract and retain employees is to invest intraining and improving the effectiveness of their front-line management team. By gaining insight into their managers’ current ability to lead and drive change in the organization, tools and training can then be provided to help employees perform and progress in their careers. Managers are key drivers of employee engagement and must be equipped to deliver on executive leadership directives.
As the business world continues to become more digital in nature, it is important that distributors find a way to pivot and integrate technology into their operations to continue to attract and retain talent and not fall behind their competitors. Start by making small internal improvements to chart out a management path towards a more tech-enabled future. Interested in learning more about our productivity, employee engagement, and manager effectiveness offerings? Contact us!