Generational changes in the retail workforce have been accelerated by the pandemic health crisis in the past two years, leading organizations to reexamine the very nature of supply chain job descriptions as they strive to stay fully staffed. That process has led to new ways of working for both front line positions in truck cabs and shop floors and back-office roles like demand and transportation planning, according to panelists speaking Monday at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)’s supply chain conference, called LINK 2022.
The challenges come even as the industry is struggling to define the skill sets required for employees to adopt smart supply chain and digital manufacturing, speakers said in a session titled “The Future of Work is Here Now.”
In response, retailers are beginning to study the marketing strategies they’ve learned in the cutthroat e-commerce world—like “meet the customer where they’re at”—and apply them to their own employees, said Rebecca Powers, vice president for North America supply chain operations at Foot Locker Inc.
For example, by streamlining workflows through technology, companies can create processes that warehouse floor associates will instinctively adapt, such as RF scanning devices connected to gamified training programs. Likewise, employers are improving their labor recruitment and retention rates by offering greater flexibility on the times and days of workers’ assigned shifts to help them manage their personal lives in a time when Covid chaos can upend anyone’s family life at a moment’s notice, Powers said.