Finding and retaining top talent is a balancing act even under the best of circumstances. Most logistics professionals would agree, however, that 2021 has been full of twists and turns. Things are far from ideal from the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to the widespread disruptions currently plaguing the global supply chain.

There’s a new challenge on the horizon, however. This past July, a record-breaking 4 million Americans up and quit their jobs. In fact, resignations amongst mid-career employees rose a whopping 20% between 2020 and 2021. Across the board, Americans are shifting gears —changing jobs or quitting altogether. Experts from a cohort of industries call it “The Great Resignation,” and its effects are far-reaching.

We’re going to take a look at this phenomenon through the lens of logistics, transportation, and the global supply chain in an attempt to answer, “What is the Great Resignation, and what can we do to overcome it?”

What is the Great Resignation?

The term “Great Resignation” began popping up earlier this year and circulated quickly thanks to coverage from major media outlets nationwide. But what exactly is the Great Resignation?

As some COVID restrictions eased earlier this year, professionals started leaving well-established jobs in droves. It’s a trend that’s continued and accelerated. This past August alone, 4.3 million people left their jobs, resulting in a record 2.9% quit rate nationwide.

The reasons behind this mass exodus range across the board. However, a common refrain amongst the general workforce is a sense of inequality regarding treatment and benefits during the pandemic. As COVID-19 spread across the country, state governments took widely divergent approaches to their respective disaster mitigation efforts. Many called for sweeping quarantines. Soon, the concept of the essential worker arose, and a significant portion of the workforce returned to labor and service-intensive jobs while their office counterparts were allowed to work from home.

Regardless of individual reasoning, the United States is currently experiencing a professional migration, the likes of which have never been seen before. Virtually every industry is feeling the effect.

The Great Resignation and the Logistics Industry

Logistics professionals are no exception, of course, to the Great Resignation. With workers in supply chain-adjacent careers effectively jumping ship, it’s no surprise. We’re already seeing the effects of worker shortages in major shipping ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach, where more than 100 ships sit waiting to dock as of this writing.

Employees are the lifeblood of any enterprise. Without proper staffing —both at the port of departure and the port of receipt— ships are allowed to languish, and the whole supply chain comes to a halt. The same goes for transportation, from OTR to the last mile. A happy, healthy workforce is necessary to grease the wheels of commerce. Which brings us to the central question: how do we find and retain top-tier talent in such turbulent times?

Overcoming the Great Resignation, Retaining Top-tier Talent

The Great Resignation may be unprecedented, but the situation is far from hopeless. While a staggering number of mid-career workers are parting ways with their employers due to various intrinsic reasons, from self-worth to the desire for a better work/ life balance, finding and retaining top-tier talent revolves around one key factor: creating a corporate culture that places increased value on the members of the team.

Create a socially and environmentally conscious brand

To attract and retain high-quality employees, you have to make your enterprise palatable to both the public and your internal workforce. It starts with a firm mission statement and a core set of values that communicate social responsibility and equity.

To that effect, you must craft a corporate life that is honest and open, one that puts employee health and well-being on equal footing with operational efficiency, production, and profitability. After all, a happy workforce equals a more agile output.

Open the lines of communication

Creating the ideal corporate environment is easier said than done. The stark reality remains: as important as your employees’ health and stability are, if the company isn’t profitable, there won’t be jobs in the first place.

The secret to overcoming this hurdle is to realize that you can’t necessarily capitulate to everything where your workforce is concerned; you can make an honest and sincere attempt to be available for your employees. That means opening the lines of communication between your frontline logistics professionals and your company’s c-suite employees. You might not be able to give your workforce everything they want, but sometimes being present and allowing your employees to feel heard makes all the difference in the world.

Celebrate your workforce

Creating a better corporate environment is a crucial step. It is also an abstract one. Remember, in the current job market, potential candidates have options. You aren’t interviewing them; they’re interviewing you. You have to take concrete steps to stay competitive, given the current state of things.

Potential new hires —as well as long-time employees— are looking for an employer who can provide them with:

  • Better compensation

  • Better benefits

  • Career advancement

  • Educational opportunities

  • Better leave of absence policies

We understand that times are tough. Not every company can afford to increase wages or offer a gold-tier healthcare package. The key is implementing policies and compensation plans that contribute to your employees’ sense of self-worth and well-being. If a wage hike just isn’t feasible, implement policies that protect the mental health of your workforce. And above all else, make sure you are promoting from within whenever possible to build a sense of trust and urgency amongst your team.

Tackle the pressing questions

Running a logistics-based operation isn’t easy, even in the best of times. These are far from the best of times. Your employees are looking for leadership now more than ever, and there are key concerns that need to be addressed in order to better normalize working conditions going forward. Some of those concerns include:

  • Remote working considerations

  • COVID-related safety protocols

  • Overall employee well-being

Make sure that you have clearly communicated protocols in place. It will give present and future employees an idea of your expectations while helping to promote overall safety, security, and worker satisfaction.

Symbia Logistics specializes in logistics and supply chain management. Please follow us to discover the latest industry trends or contact us to bolster your own supply chain resiliency.