Chain Reactions

Is Your Supply Chain Planner Planning to Quit?


Supply chain planners and forecasters spend most of their time analyzing the various nuances of their company's operations, and they pride themselves on having a 360-degree outlook on everything that impacts a manufacturer's ability to run a profitable business. One question most senior executives fail to ask their supply chain planners, though, is a simple one: Do you plan to leave this company in the near future?

LifeWork Search, a search and recruitment firm specializing in supply chain and procurement, asked that very question via its LinkedIn social network at the end of 2011, and got 281 responses. Of that number, 39% said they will be leaving their current company in 2012, and another 32% said they might leave. So, if you believe the respondents were telling the truth and weren't just disgruntled about the chintzy bag of mixed nuts they got for a Christmas bonus, more than 70% of the supply chain professionals surveyed are thinking about greener pastures somewhere else.

In a way, those numbers are actually good news, since when a similar survey was taken the previous year, 44% said they planned to leave their companies "once the economy picked up." So depending on how you look at the numbers, you could say that 5% fewer supply chain people are ready to bolt at the first sign of a better offer.

"What we are witnessing is an employee backlash," says Jason Breault, managing director of LifeWork Search. "Lack of confidence in management has employees tempted to move elsewhere. Regardless of how the media portrays the employment situation, the job market is picking up and many employees are taking advantage of it."

I asked the LifeWork Search staff to break down those numbers a bit more, to provide some context as to who these unhappy supply chain people are. Here's a closer look at the survey demographics. First of all, those who answered the poll work in various supply chain functions: demand planning, supply planning, production planning, purchasing or logistics. In other words, the full "plan, source, make and deliver" of supply chain management.

Of those respondents who said, "Yes, I intend to leave":

23% are between the ages of 18-29
23% are between the ages of 30-36
11% are between the ages of 37-44
43% are 45 and older

79% are male
22% are female

Of those who responded, "Maybe, so I've begun networking":

20% are between the ages of 18-29
25% are between the ages of 30-36
30% are between the ages of 37-44
25% are 45 and older

77% are male
23% are female

Of those who responded, "Not likely, but I've updated my resume":

20% are between the ages of 18-29
40% are between the ages of 30-36
12% are between the ages of 37-44
28% are 45 and older

70% are male
30% are female

And of those who responded, "No, I intend to stay":

28% are between the ages of 18-29
19% are between the ages of 30-36
19% are between the ages of 37-44
34% are 45 and older

74% are male
26% are female

So, extrapolating from these numbers, it looks like the happiest group of supply chain people are in their mid 30s to mid 40s. Either that, or their kids are still young enough that they haven't started panicking how they're going to pay for college yet.

In any event, Breault suggests that these numbers should be a wake-up call to management. "Many organizations will lose their top players, and although the talent pool is large, it remains weak."

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jul 16, 2012


Interesting survey but I don't think that CEOs care one bit. They think that they can cheaply replace these folks, so they won't make any effort to keep them.

I base this on watching my clients...who they hire, etc. Most of the SC people I deal with are unqualified but are cheap. For example, a big electronics firm I deal with hires people with no experience as demand planners...yes, the very people deciding their sales gal previously worked in a real estate office. They wonder why their customers are upset because they don't get what they need.

I guess I don't really mind because I am called in at a sizeable hourly rate to clean up the mess. Good SC people always earn multiples of their salaries, but they have to get hired and they are not always cheap.

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