Why Frontline Supply Chain Workers Are Walking Out

It’s safe to say frontline workers have had enough. Hourly employees — especially in supply chain roles such as truckers and warehouse workers — are quitting at a record rate. As the workforce shortage worsens, businesses are left scratching their heads as to what’s going on.

Brands such as Walmart and Costco are raising wages to combat the crisis. But if they looked a little closer, they’d see pay alone won’t do the trick. A Q1 survey of more than 20,000 supply chain workers shows that pay is not a top reason for turnover. In fact, it’s not even in the top five.

If brands don’t start to better understand their hourly workforce, the Great Resignation may be here to stay. Here’s what you need to know to rise above it.

Bad news: Turnover is getting worse. New data shows that 77% of frontline employees are considering new roles in the next three months. If your business has a supply chain, that number should terrify you. But the truth is, it’s completely avoidable — and the solution is simpler than you think.

Employees feel like they have little to no opportunity to provide feedback. In fact, that is the second-greatest reason for turnover. For 40% of frontline workers, management never asks for any feedback at all. But the issue doesn’t end there. Seventy percent of frontline workers who share feedback with leadership feel that their voices aren’t being heard.

It’s no wonder why management doesn’t understand why employees still quit after a pay raise. They simply aren’t listening.

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How feedback solves frontline mysteries. It’s never been more critical to continuously gather real-time feedback from employees, but more importantly, it’s critical that managers and leaders take the right actions on that feedback to drive positive outcomes. Motivators are changing every day — especially amid situations such as the pandemic, record-level inflation and more. In Q4, pay was the second leading reason for turnover. Within just one quarter, it dropped eight spots.

What’s the number one reason hourly workers are quitting? That’s the one ranking that hasn’t changed quarter after quarter: career growth. Hourly employees no longer view supply chain roles as just a job. They are looking for long-term, rewarding careers. Yet many organizations have not shifted their perspectives to align with this idea. As a result, workers leave for companies that will offer opportunities to advance — despite a recent pay raise.

Understanding your workforce to drive change.  There are many factors that contribute to an employee wanting to stay, quit or join a company. For example, as more people strive to find a work-life balance, 100% of workers say flexibility, schedules and hours influence their decision on taking a new role.

Benefits is another emerging leader. Q4 research showed that benefits did not even make the top 11, but in Q1 it rose to the third reason for turnover. It’s just another proof point of the importance of regular feedback.

When companies have the ability to gather real-time insights into the workforce’s pain points, they’re able to address potential turnover drivers by taking action to drive positive change before it leads to a turnover event. The end result: improved retention, a better employee experience, positive reputation and bottom-line value.

Mark Bell

Mark Bell
Mark Bell is VP of marketing at WorkStep.

Mark Bell

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