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Flexible working is key to attract and retain talent despite challenges, say DSJ Global experts

Posted on May 2023

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​While flexible working has become increasingly popular in recent years, more companies are considering whether they should introduce or continue to allow their employees to work outside of traditional office hours and locations. Can the future be flexible in the supply chain industry, and do organizations need to offer it to attract and retain the best talent? 

The supply chain industry has traditionally been reliant on on-site work, making the implementation of flexible working a unique challenge. However, with the increasing demand for work-life balance and the rise of remote work, industry leaders must find ways to remain competitive in the hiring landscape while balancing the opportunities and challenges of flexible working with their business requirements and objectives. To shed light on this topic, we spoke with some of the talent experts at DSJ Global.

Workplace Productivity

Flexible working can increase productivity and loyalty by helping employees feel more in control of their lives and offering a better work-life balance, which in turn can lead to higher levels of motivation and engagement– but better productivity isn’t guaranteed.

As part of DSJ Global’s report, The Impact of Flexible Working, we surveyed top business leaders in the supply chain industry to find out how their company has been impacted by the rise of flexible working. Of the 63% of clients surveyed currently offering flexible working, 44% of supply chain execs have seen an increase in productivity, and 40% have seen no change.

We asked Ross Williams, Senior Vice President at DSJ Global, if this is in line with his experience helping clients hire industry professionals in the US market: 

“I am not surprised that less than half of leaders have seen an increase in productivity. One theory on improving productivity is that it can come from inspiring employees, and we all know that it can be harder to get humans fired up and motivated to deliver more output and strive for better quality work or tighter deadlines from behind a screen.”

Company Culture

One of the biggest challenges of flexible working is managing company culture, as when employees are working remotely it can be difficult to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals. This could lead to misunderstandings and missed deadlines, negatively impacting company culture.

DSJ Global’s survey found an equal split when it comes to flexible working affecting company culture, with 37% each experiencing a positive or negative impact, and the remaining 26% unchanged. Ross provides some further insights: 

“If candidates are offered a job that is fully remote, it is very easy for them to make the decision to accept as it can avoid them relocating their family and, for example, forcing their children to change school or their spouse to resign from their job.

“However, some 100% remote companies can find it challenging to drive company culture without face-to-face communication and regular team nights out and office perks. The clients I work with that offer a hybrid work schedule find it easier to manage and steer their company values.”

Attracting, Hiring and Retaining Top Talent

Flexible working can also help companies to attract and retain top talent in today’s competitive job market, with many professionals looking for companies that offer flexible working arrangements.

The biggest hiring challenge according to DSJ Global’s clients is a shortage of qualified candidates (37%), followed by increasing competition for top talent (20%). 10% find it is a struggle to retain talent. Emily Prendergast, Executive Director at DSJ Global, offers her experience with how businesses can improve their hiring and retention based on candidate attitudes towards flexible working:

“We are currently in a candidate driven market. 2021 - 2022 experienced the ‘Great Resignation’, where many candidates took new jobs and caused a candidate shortage. This means that skilled candidates who are now in the market are being courted by multiple companies, so anyone hiring needs to make sure they are putting their best offer forward.

“Counteroffers have also increased in an effort to retain existing talent, however companies need to dive deeper into why they are interviewing in the first place. It is no longer enough to just increase someone’s base salary in hopes of them staying – being more flexible with hours, listening to feedback, and increasing responsibilities are just some of the things professionals are more interested in fixing with their current employers - not just compensation.”

Final considerations for businesses considering flexible working

Remote and hybrid options play a central role in both hiring decisions and company culture. The number of days people are expected to be in the office affects the success of a company's hiring strategy and helps retain existing talent, as 67% of survey respondents agree. However, for 16% of supply chain leaders it comes at the expense of productivity, and in 37% of cases it has a negative impact on office culture. 

We asked Ross for his key takeaways for clients asking whether to offer flexible working:

“I would advise any organization considering setting up flexible working to understand the reasons why – is it to attract talent, retain talent or both? You can then determine your business needs and manage the risks by speaking to managers or leaders who have concerns about the negative impacts of flexible working, and determine what your staff want in a flexible working schedule through meetings or by sending out staff surveys.”

Learn more

The future of flexible working in the supply chain industry is explored further in DSJ Global’s report, ‘The Impact of Flexible Working’, where we surveyed business leaders to provide you with insights on how productivity and company culture has been impacted by the increasing prevalence of flexible working, the benefits and challenges it has brought to business leaders, and how companies plan to use flexible working to attract and retain top talent.

Click here to downloadThe Impact of Flexible Workingreport.

If you would like to talk to us about your current talent needs, fill in our form and one of our consultants will call you back.