Pay is only one piece of the worker retention puzzle

In a tight labor market, offering growth opportunities and exposure to advanced technologies can help secure talent.


Labor constraints continue to plague many companies, impacting production levels and causing delivery delays. With up to a 49% turnover rate in the certain sectors last year, businesses are straining to attract and retain talent.



Those looking to secure talent should expand their hiring pools and offer potential workers opportunities to learn new skills or advance in their careers, experts say.

“Competition for talent at the entry level is significant right now,” said Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of the Association for Supply Chain Management. “I’m not sure there’s one silver bullet. You’ve got to give [workers] something more than just pay.”


Part of the problem in securing workers in many sectors is that the jobs often suffer a reputation as boring, dirty and physically taxing. But that’s often not the case — many organizations are far more technologically advanced than most people think, said Susan Boylan, senior director analyst at Gartner.


“They have very smart infrastructure that rely on a lot of technology, but the prevailing image is a dusty old warehouse,” she said.


Showcasing how smart technology enables operations can spur more interest from potential employees, particularly if companies can show clear upward career mobility for people that work with the technology, Eshkenazi said.


The technology itself can provide more opportunities for those who may not initially believe they’re qualified for work, he added. For example, tools like remote operated forklifts and exoskeleton co-bots could make warehouse jobs possible for older and disabled workers.

“If you think of the population we’re currently working with, we need to open up the aperture in terms of diversity and inclusion and what different people with different competencies can contribute to the organization,” said Eshkenazi.


Advance Auto, for example, has hired more than 360 workers who have autism or are hearing impaired for its warehouses, distribution centers and other supply chain roles through a disability inclusion program.


“This is a great, largely untapped resource for talent out there, and with everybody needing that talent, it just makes sense,” said James Emmitt, owner of consulting firm James Emmett & Company, which helps employers launch disability inclusion programs. “It makes sense for your company, it makes sense for your community, to really lean in and find that talent wherever you can right now. … We’re nowhere close to done.”


“If you think of the population we’re currently working with, we need to open up the aperture in terms of diversity and inclusion and what different people with different competencies can contribute to the organization.” Abe Eshkenazi, CEO, Association for Supply Chain Management

Companies can combat the notion that certain jobs are terminal careers by providing clear opportunities for workers to advance. A February 2022 Gartner report found that 81% of workers want to find opportunities to learn skills that will be useful to their jobs, but only 42% said they were easy to find.


“No one wants a dead end job anywhere they work, so offering skills upgrades and training” can go a long way, said Elissa Jessup, HR knowledge advisor at the Society for Human Resource Management.

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