In the face of record unemployment, many workers are staying put — and frankly, glad to still have a job. But despite the current labor market, employees in some industries are hedging their bets that the grass is greener on the other side. Those are the results of the Job Confidence Index 2020.

The annual report by DSJ Global, a logistics and supply chain recruiter, includes responses from workers in the U.S., Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. It reveals that even though 40% of employees believe it may be difficult to find a new job opportunity, only 36% plan to stay with their current employer over the next six months.

Why supply chain talent is leaving

Employees who plan to leave are actually being proactive. “The effects we’ve seen, particularly across the manufacturing market, have been concerning, with mass layoffs, countless people furloughed, etc.,” says Emily Prendergast, director at DSJ Global. She believes that these workers are open to new opportunities because they don’t have a lot of confidence that their companies will be able to keep them over the long-term. “It is much easier to put yourself out there in the market while you’re still comfortably employed versus becoming an active candidate when you’re unemployed and in a more desperate situation.”

U.S. vs. global data

The report reveals distinct differences between U.S. workers and employees in other parts of the world. For example, U.S. respondents had the most negative outlook regarding the job market (51%) versus the global figure of 43%. “However, the U.S. respondents (41%) were also the most optimistic about the future job market improving in the next 12 months,” Prendergast explains.

And there’s another stat that was also higher among U.S. workers. “Our report reveals that 46% of supply chain professionals in the U.S. did not receive a bonus this year, compared to the global figure of 33%,” she says.

Job security is another area that reveals significant differences. “Globally, half of respondents are confident or very confident in their job security, and 50% believe that they will keep their jobs over the next six months.” However, Prendergast says only 37% of U.S. respondents are confident in their job security.

“When seeking new employment, the majority of respondents globally said they would change jobs for the opportunity to progress their career (60%), to pursue a higher salary (53%), and for a new challenge (48%).” And Prendergast says these figures are similar to U.S. results: 62% would change jobs to progress their career, 56% would change jobs to pursue a higher salary, and 38% would change jobs for a new challenge.

Another interesting note about U.S. workers: The majority (69%) would move to a new region for the right opportunity, and among relocation choices, the Southeast region was the most popular destination.

U.S. workers also believe they shouldn’t solely bear the financial burden of moving. “Three-quarters (82%) expect some kind of assistance from a new employer, with 60% expecting moving expenses and 60% expecting a lump sum to use as needed,” Prendergast says.

So, what accounts for the differences between U.S. views compared to the rest of the world? Matthew Wood, another director at DSJ Global, has a few theories. “The differences in outlook from U.S. to European job markets may, in part, be related to the way they operate under normal circumstances anyway,” he says. “The U.S. labor market moves faster and is more fluid, compared to longer notice periods in Europe, a more cautious approach to changing jobs and the logistical challenges of moving across Europe (language, tax, legislation) compared to the U.S.”

What (if anything) companies can do to retain supply chain professionals

If employers have any hope of keeping their workers from jumping ship, they’ll first need to understand the contributing factors leading to the desire to leave. “Employers need to know and address what their employees actually want — in this case, offering them the career progression and challenges they crave, in addition to adequate compensation — or risk losing them, with all the cost that entails,” Wood says.

He admits the current environment makes it a heck of a lot more difficult to offer these incentives in a timely manner. However, Wood says organizations need to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do we offer a clear path for progression and is that clearly communicated to employees and candidates?
  • Are we creating a diverse and inclusive culture that supports meaning?
  • Are we continuing to challenge our people and pay them appropriately?

In addition, he recommends that companies engage with employees in three key areas:

Their mission and purpose. “There are a lot of companies doing a lot of great things in the world and if the role that the supply chain plays in enabling this is clear and communicated in an authentic way, it will appeal to the sense of purpose and challenge that is desired in a role in supply chains.”

Their own development and trajectory within the company. It’s great to contribute to the company’s mission, but the ability of employees to develop their own skills — which can open new doors and opportunities — is even more appealing. “Being able to simply and transparently bring to life the career trajectory and development available in the supply chain team will contribute massively to retention,” Wood says.

Reward according to the contribution being made. Make sure that the rewards are fair and provide transparency regarding how they can evolve. “This isn’t the factor that will keep your talent happy on its own, but it will certainly be noticed if there’s something wrong here.”