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SCRC Article Library: Harvard Business Review- Holistic Talent-Supply Chain Management

Harvard Business Review- Holistic Talent-Supply Chain Management

Published on: Feb, 07, 2017

by: Lindsay Schilleman MBA Candidate, Class of 2017

Every company faces challenges, especially as a firm aims to manage a global footprint. In a recent survey of more than 300 global executives from companies of every size, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) provides insight on the struggle many firms face in recruiting and retaining supply chain talent. The results of the HBR survey suggests that companies may be focusing on filling short term talent gaps with external employees, but may be missing out on long-term opportunities by narrowing their focus. In fact, roughly 30% of the organizations polled say they struggle to find the talent they need while 60% anticipate the same challenge within the next three years.

Recruiting external talent is a common practice and firms that rely on this on a seasonal basis enjoy reduced costs and increased efficiency. However, this external talent not only allows the company to meet demand and efficiency needs, but 50% of those surveyed also claim it brings in outside expertise that its current staff lacks.

Attracting talent may not be the hardest part, though. After, contractors employed on site at a firm face challenges with integration. Only 33% of those surveyed allow their external workforce to participate in learning and development programs. Similarly, only 25% give external employees reviews. Of those surveyed, 20% do not even include the workforce in team and departmental meetings. When asked why this is the case, some respondents said that resource limits and legal concerns were at play. However, half of respondents said it had to do with company culture.

The company culture at many firms seems to be very static and regulated. However, HBR suggests that a more dynamic and autonomous culture will result in higher levels of engagement among the external workforce. The explanation is simple: the workers will feel more appreciated, accepted, and integrated. HBR used a simple example of a permanent employee versus a contractor. A contractor is much less likely to feel an emotional connection, or any connection, to a particular company. Thus, she is more likely to put in the minimum effort required to finish the job, and move on. On the other hand, an employee who feels like she belongs and is accepted at the company, has more of an emotional attachment and will want to perform in the company’s best interest. If the company is investing in their leadership and development, the employee is further rewarded.

The remaining question is, who is responsible for attracting this external workforce? And who is responsible for assimilating the workforce into the company culture and ensuring a company connection? Respondents of the survey had opposing opinions. Of those surveyed, 45% give HR the responsibility of overseeing external workers’ engagement process. Another 39% believe the responsibility lies with the individual business unit, while only 12% say it belongs to procurement. The question is, which strategy works best? While a different strategy may work better for some than others, HBR suggests that HR and procurement should work together to source and manage talent as opposed to just procurement or just HR. This creates a well-balanced workforce that meets more of the business’ needs and goals.

In all, HBR found that best practices surrounding talent management include hiring external help, fully integrating that help into the company culture, and engaging employees cross-functionally at the HR, procurement, and business unit levels. The result is more likely to be a happy and engaged workforce, which might even help shift the focus from short-term to long-term, which is especially important in this environment where good talent is hard to find and retain. 

KELLYOCG. (2015). Holistic Talent Supply Chain Management. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs...

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