Are Your Supply Chain Employees Jumping Ship? Here’s Why

May 22, 2024

As every company knows, retaining employees is tremendously important. Sometimes, it’s obvious why an employee might leave a company: a progressive external opportunity, or internal workplace problems. But sometimes, the reasons are more subtle. Today, we’re digging into what causes supply chain employees to leave, and how to retain them.

As a boutique recruitment agency, we at Argentus are on the front lines of the churn in the job market. We speak with potential job candidates every day. Some of them are passive. They’re currently working in a role, but putting feelers out there for what’s next. Some of them are active, reaching out to us because they want to make a move or are in between jobs. With demand for professionals in Supply Chain Management and Procurement—our areas of specialty—going up over the past number of years, there’s a lot of activity, especially in short-term contracts where companies are onboarding talent for their change management and business transformation expertise.

There are so many reasons why people seek out a new job. Sometimes it’s based on major life changes: a geographical move, say, or someone getting back into the workforce after a maternity leave. Sometimes there are internal cultural problems at a company that makes staying untenable. Sometimes people see a salary bump that they can’t turn down. But beyond these obvious reasons, what causes a candidate to seek out a new jobs, particularly in Supply Chain and Procurement? What causes them to pull the trigger, and become active?

We speak to a lot of candidates, so we have our ears to the ground in terms of the subtler reasons that star performers in these functions get the desire to make a move. It’s not out of a desire for more money as often as you might think. More often than not, it’s the more intangible factors.

Because employee retention is so important from a cost-saving and culture standpoint, we thought it would be useful to lay out some of the most common reasons why Supply Chain and Procurement professionals decide to jump ship:

1. They’re Siloed

We hear this reason a lot from candidates, but it still isn’t considered by companies as much as it should be. We know that one of the best ways to grow your Supply Chain career is to gain exposure to diverse parts of the function – from Logistics and Distribution, to Procurement, to Inventory Management, to Planning.

In too many organizations, these functions are siloed off from each-other, and that stops candidates from getting the experience they need to move up into more senior roles. It also stops the Supply Chain from being as effective as it would be if it was fully integrated. Next thing you know, your top performers are taking calls because they don’t want to be pigeonholed.

2. They’re Tired of Working With Outdated Technology

Supply Chain and Procurement technology is becoming more digital, just like the rest of the economy. And updating your technological profile can be a massive undertaking, with lots of risks. But the most forward-looking and high-potential candidates want to be working with the latest Supply Chain technology, keeping their skills relevant for the future. If you’re still working only with Excel or outdated ERP systems, you might risk losing candidates to companies that have taken the plunge and invested in continuing technological improvement, including machine learning and AI.

3. They’re Not Getting Support from Senior Leadership

Ineffective leadership in Procurement and Supply Chain can have huge ramifications all the way down a business. If leadership doesn’t have the people skills to help build buy-in for the function across the business, if they micromanage instead of letting managers and sole contributors shine, people are going to start picking up the phone when a recruiter calls. But it goes upward too: effective leaders in Procurement and Supply Chain will get the itch to move if they don’t have support from C-level executives in a business.

4. Work/Life Balance Isn’t Up to Snuff

So much has been written about the importance of work/life balance, but it’s still worth mentioning. People who don’t have support from a work/life balance perspective will start to seek companies that have better work from home policies, flexible schedules, educational opportunities, and other benefits. In 2024, companies can no longer see these programs as “perks” or “throw-ins.” Having solid, articulated work/life balance policies is vital to winning the war for talent.

5. They’re Uninspired in the Workplace

While Supply Chain and Procurement have historically been seen as “dry” functions, this reputation is changing fast. With the rise of digitization and globalization, they’re becoming more fast-paced, with more strategic potential and impact on a business’ long-term structure and profitability. But some companies still treat their Supply Chain and Procurement employees as purely transactional workers whose jobs are only to fill out orders and put out day-to-day fires. If you’re not being strategic, or not offering opportunities for advancement into more strategic positions, your best Supply Chain employees will, quite frankly, get bored and leave.

6. They’re Realizing How in-Demand They Are

As we’ve written about a lot, the retirement of the baby boomer generation as well as greater expectations placed on Procurement and Supply Chain are creating a deficit of talent in the marketplace. This is even truer than it was before the pandemic. But many companies still aren’t realizing the huge demand for Supply Chain and Procurement talent in this marketplace. Too many companies still assume their employees are “just happy to have a job.” But take it from us, as a company that speaks with dozens of candidates in the field every day: in 2024, supply chain employees know their worth, and are fielding opportunities to meet their full potential. If your company isn’t providing those opportunities, they’ll go somewhere that does.

Sometimes it’s a combination of the above factors that causes a top performer to want to leave, and sometimes it’s even other factors we haven’t mentioned. So what does your organization do to retain star performers? As a candidate, have you ever left a role for one of the above reasons, or another that we missed? Let us know in the comments! 


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