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The year 2020 forever left an impact on supply-chain human resources and labor interactions. We witnessed first-hand the pressure cooker of managing accelerated multi-channel shifts, constrained human resources, technology limitations, regulatory change, and extreme supply and demand fluctuations. By accelerating out of the pandemic and into the future of supply-chain labor management with a well-thought-out strategy and flexible plan, companies will position themselves for future success and resiliency.
Following are several steps that companies should be taking now, to adjust to the changing demands on supply chains and the labor force.
Rethink the nature of your jobs. This is a time for digging into what job descriptions, requirements, and specifications should be, versus what they’ve historically been. Traditional roles are no longer static; there’s a pressing need to rethink structure in terms of considerations such as balancing remote work with onsite labor needs, and determining which processes should be driven by technology and which ones by humans. The need for a responsible and resilient supply chain has reinforced the concept of the outcome-based organization. Now is also the time to get creative in areas such as the use of contingent or contract workers to help manage fluctuations in demand, identify opportunities for different pay options, and review the relationship between pay and worker output.
Use technology to support your teams and underlying strategy. All too often companies find themselves conforming to the capabilities of technology, instead of using it to further their supply-chain strategies. This is increasingly true for H.R., where the effective application of data and enablers such as artificial intelligence can streamline processes and greatly improve efficiencies. Without the right digital leaders and alignment of functionality with expected outcomes, teams will revert back to analog practices, and never fully realize the return on investment in technology. Data collection for employee management, in areas such as virtual time clocking, system use tracking, and monitoring response rates, will continue to grow in popularity, and the successful application of this data will enable more creative solutions for the supply chain. Technology enhancements require an investment in new human capital designs and structures.
Invest in your “high professionals.” Think of these people as your topic-specific specialists, the ones you go to for solving problems in a particular area. This is the group that likely got you through 2020. But these resources are fatigued, can feel under-appreciated, and risk falling through the cracks during reorganization and restructuring projects. Support them through targeted training, career-development programs, and mentorship models, in order to engage them in your future supply-chain structure, and retain their critical knowledge and experience.
Through all the challenges and hurdles of 2020, an opportunity has emerged for companies to change the way H.R. and labor management are influenced, structured, and executed. Next-generation employees have been asking for changes in traditional work models. Over the last year, companies have had to develop the capability for rapid response, as well as real-time testing of creative and non-traditional options for labor division, technology application and new operating models. These changes aren’t going away, and H.R. processes, preconceptions and working norms will need to catch up to the new way of working.
Melissa Hadhazy is Senior Client Partner with Korn Ferry.
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