Sep 01, 2021

Combat the Supply Chain Armageddon

What do quarters, automobile parts, medical equipment, and toilet paper have in common? If you answered supply chain shortages, then you’re on the right track. Pandemic-related shutdowns caused a surge in global and domestic supply chain issues. Overseas shipping centers are facing a depleted workforce or are being closed entirely with each new outbreak. Supply chains are grinding to a halt in countries like China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.

The manufacturing sector has been the most hard-hit by the pandemic. The American government is joining forces with companies to create a new “industrial commons” — which refers to the U.S.’s capability of producing the goods essential to the country’s interests. The Whitehouse has even established a Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to monitor and address short-term supply issues.

But where does this leave independent manufacturing and distribution companies? Let’s take a look at what can executives in these fields do to combat the supply chain Armageddon in their own microcosm.

Cultivate Talent Through Training and Development

It’s no secret that there’s a cross-industry labor shortage. Deloitte reports that 7 in 10 employers around the world are struggling to find workers with the right mix of technical skills and human capabilities. When you factor in existing employees calling out of work to take care of sick friends and family, it’s easy to see why distribution employers are focused on upskilling entry-level talent instead of recruiting the few that have already been trained.

The need for upskilling and retention is not going unnoticed by employers. In fact, an August 2020 McKinsey survey of global business leaders found that nearly 80% listed “capability building” as “extremely” or “very important” to the long-term growth of their companies. A few months later, 69% of business leaders said they were prioritizing capability building more than before the crisis.

Retention is also a challenge for warehousing and distribution centers. A manager may find, hire, and train talent just to have them leave after a few months to use their training for a higher-paying job at another warehouse. The task of a distribution manager, then, becomes cultivating skilled employees that are invested in putting their skills to work for the company. This requires managers to provide talent with a consistent training regimen with a navigable course to achieve a higher-ranking position.

Reduce Errors with an Aligned Workforce

Analysts are saying that the supply chain Armageddon will result in inflation. However, companies that continue supplying customers with in-demand goods at reasonable prices during this tumultuous time will take center stage for years to come. Doing so requires warehouseand distribution centers to continue to operate at full capacity, despite any staffing obstacles that arise.

Although staffing gaps can be reduced by employee training and retention programs, a certain number of call-ins and amount of employee turnover is inevitable –– particularly during a pandemic. As such, managers need the ability to quickly fill in any staffing vacancies that occur. For distribution systems to respond to disruptions with agility, managers need the ability to re-task employees and manage their schedules from any location digitally.

WorkJam’s digital workplace for distribution centers enables mobile shift management. Managers can quickly broadcast open shifts across all areas of their supply chain in-app while employees are enabled to find those shifts across any location they want and pick any they are qualified to do. This crowd-staffing solution is also union compliant so that management can approve the right requests for coverage. Further, WorkJam links and syncs to any WFM solution out there, thus fulfilling the promise of agile scheduling, enabling management to keep the operation functioning at maximum capacity… whatever tomorrow may bring.

Looking Forward to a New Era

With WorkJam, manufacturers can use this time of crisis to reduce operational costs and differentiate their customer experience. The app makes it easy for managers to recognize employee achievements, and to provide opportunities for rewards and advancement for a wide range of employee successes –– at all levels of the organization. Thus, frontline employees are engaged, absenteeism is discouraged, and retention rates are improved.

WorkJam’s intuitive interface also grants employers scheduling ease. Managers can easily cover open shifts and allocate available employees to high-demand areas. When scheduling is easier and employees are incentivized, supply chains run like well-oiled machines –– with fewer disruptions, improved retention, and maximum efficiency.

About the author:

Steven Kramer

Chief Executive Officer

Steven is a technology entrepreneur with over 20 years of executive leadership experience in founding and scaling companies developing disruptive, enterprise-class technologies. In 1999, Steven co-founded iCongo, a leading global software provider for omni-channel retail and B2B commerce solutions, which merged with hybris Software in 2011 and became the largest independent provider of e-commerce solutions with 27 offices worldwide, 1000+ employees and more than 600 customers. Steven was part of the Executive Management team and Board Member at hybris. hybris Software was purchased by SAP in 2013. While working with companies on their omni-channel strategies, Steven identified a gap between traditional workforce management systems and how companies actually hire, schedule and manage their frontline employees. With this in mind, Steven co-founded WorkJam.

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