CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
February 22, 2020
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Navigating the generational divide

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Millennials now make up half the workforce. It's important to learn what makes these diverse professionals tick, what motivates them, and how to attract and keep them.

With the start of 2020, there are now four generations in the labor pool: baby boomers; Generation Xers; millennials (those born between about 1980 and 2000); and Gen Z (the newest generation). Millennials currently are estimated to make up a whopping 50% of today's workforce. In fact, according to the magazine Inc., by 2025 millennials are forecast to comprise 75% of the global workforce.

Therefore it's vital that we understand how they tick, what motivates them, how to attract them, and how to keep them. Forbes reports that the research shows that millennials are searching for companies that match their values and beliefs. Like Generation Xers, they're looking for flexibility and work-life balance, and they leave companies when they're not appreciated and recognized or are poorly managed.

Right now, the more seasoned supply chain professionals may be saying to themselves, "Life's tough, get a helmet!" At the same time, I've been told that millennials feel like they have been unfairly branded as the "participation trophy generation," which suggests that they're entitled to recognition simply for showing up and are incapable of having a solid work ethic.

The truth is, to some degree, both sides are right. On one hand, there's nothing wrong with expecting more from your employer or manager. But on the other, there's no replacement for "real" experience; you can't expect the promotion without the exertion.

My advice to the young professionals? You might have to battle that "participation trophy" perception and create your own reality. It's up to you to navigate and manage your career. But we can't forget that senior supply chain leaders have an obligation to help develop this talent. Cultivating new talent involves providing and requiring individual development plans and planning for succession.

We all have an obligation to grow supply chain talent, and it's the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's (CSCMP) job to not only talk about it but also help our members navigate it. An association is designed to provide a sense of community and bring people with similar backgrounds, career experience, and goals together. In today's gig-economy, it's especially important for our younger members to get involved as CSCMP membership provides a central relationship that will serve professionals for the duration of their career, despite the multiple jobs they may end up holding on that journey.

CSCMP also offers many career development programs as benefits included in your CSCMP membership. For example, we offer the CSCMP Mentorship Program, which pairs an experienced mentor with a younger supply chain professional with the goal of creating personal and professional development for both individuals. We also have the CSCMP Career Center which provides supply chain specific job opportunities, resume review, and career counseling.

We need each other to be successful and I'm proud of the role CSCMP plays in developing and supporting supply chain talent—you, in whatever career stage you're in. Thank you for giving us that opportunity.

Rick Blasgen is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

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