Slowing Supply Chain Employee Churn

We’ve seen net losses in talent opportunities through 2020 with sourcing office numbers reduced by double-digit percentiles, in many cases this has been a natural correction of headcounts. However, with a flat economy and struggling global retail, we’re seeing permanent job losses across global sourcing offices and Hong Kong’s infamous seasonal hiring calendar will cease to exist in the near term (or maybe forever). The migration of talent in global sourcing and other hard-hit industries is beginning to look like the chart below.

Reduced churn in talent is typically a good thing, continuity through points of inflection enables vision continuation especially at the top of organisations. It does however hinder seasonal newness that we’ve become habitually used to. Talent begins to stagnate like water when it stops flowing and in 2020, a year where novelty drives consumer spending retail talent pools need to keep up with the rate of change. There’s a pressing need to drive talent newness even if the environment works against the very action. 

As we hit the month of January organisations are going to need energy boosters and newness in order to crawl through a potentially harder year. Both VF & Kiabi have taken the initiative to give opportunities inside and outside of day to day functionality of the assigned role. “Growth paths” from VF & new skills development courses in Kiabi’s Tech Service & Manufacturing arm enable businesses to keep up with the accelerated transformation of the sourcing industry and this should pan out to be a “win-win” for employer and employee down the line. These programs set future trends for businesses to drive mobility from within the organisation as old perceptions of talent erode and the very hard to quantify “attitude” becomes more recognised as a skill. At scale we might see a behavioral change in hiring going forward as the mental make-up for the “best talented suited for our organisation in the future” becomes clearer.

Another horn I that I’ve blown on several times before is a need of cultivating newness with fresh talent. The attrition of culture and morale through 2020 has been real and there’s a growing need to develop pipelines of talent that match “the future of work” in an authentic manner. I.E. No more “shadow-posting” of job opportunities an activity that needs to be thrown away permanently. Seismic societal shifts resulting from both manmade and natural events mean we’ll need to remain agile and flexible in order to bring in talent that matches cadence of new megatrends.

A hard tune to whistle for every leader is the “who stays and who goes”, but with uncertainty clouding the horizon a new assessment is in town. Scoring the adaptability of team members needs to stand front and centre for evaluations, figuring out who your titans of change are is critical. After the year is through enough data will exist in order to back tough, but necessary decisions. Rember, the want and the ability to adapt are two very different things.