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Preparing for Generation Y’s Impact on Your Supply Chain

Generation Y is growing up and entering the workforce at a time when the marketplace is undergoing a major demographic shift. Recruiting Gen Y into supply chain and distribution jobs will require understanding a group with a whole new attitude toward work.

Gen Y employees have been unfairly labeled as demanding, entitled, and self-serving. But, if managed properly, they can be a rich source of high-performing talent. They are well-versed in the ability to use technology. They can perform a myriad of tasks across a number of business disciplines, and many are willing to live just about anywhere as long as the job and company are “fun.”

So how can you make a supply chain job “fun”? How can you attract 20-something workers into your distribution channels—and retain them?

Who Are They?

Also known as Millennials or Generation Next, members of Generation Y were born between 1981 and 1999. They will be defined not only by their sheer numbers, but also in terms of their huge social and economic impact. Numbering nearly 81 million, they make up the largest generation in U.S. history—bigger even than the Baby Boomers.

There are five major characteristics that help to define the members of Generation Y:

  • Racially and culturally diverse
  • Extremely independent because of divorce, day care, latchkey parenting and being raised in a technological environment
  • More egalitarian in their social views than older generations
  • Highly connected to their peers
  • Possess a true sense of empowerment, thanks in part to their parents

How Do You Manage Them?

Supply chain companies that modify their compensation packages and job structures to respond to the needs and expectations of Generation Y will be better positioned to attract the employees they need and want. Distribution managers must adopt a more creative approach to job structures and recruiting, then implement a comprehensive labor management system to ensure the workers they do attract are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.

How? Younger workers respond best to a fast-paced work environment with extensive technology. Employers that want to attract workers from this group need to improve the image of the supply chain and distribution environment by developing innovative ways to make these jobs more attractive to them. To position your company ahead of the competition, consider these strategies:

  • Build a collaborative environment between managers and employees
  • Construct a strong incentive/reward system based on performance
  • Establish flexible work schedules
  • Foster the social aspects of work
  • Start a mentoring program that pairs new workers with company leaders
  • Provide more training and expand learning opportunities

And show respect for their ideas, even though they are new to the workplace. They just might be the ones who revolutionize the supply chain industry!

If you’re looking for more tips on how to find and manage top supply chain employees, contact ZDA today!

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