Organizations are experiencing elevated employee turnover levels, which have particularly impacted the manufacturing and distribution industry. 2021 saw sales force turnover reaching 15%, and this rate is expected to increase in 2022. What is driving this attrition and how can you win the race for talent?
Parker Thomas, Alexander Group’s Manufacturing Practice Research Lead, interviews Kyle Uebelhor and Arshad Carim, principals for Alexander Group, on the current talent issues that are facing the industry including culture, job and compensation.
Parker Thomas: Welcome to the Alexander Group’s 2022 manufacturing and distribution sales predictions. I’m here with Kyle Uebelhor and Arshad Carim. The theme we’re talking about today is the race for talent. So coming out of the pandemic, we’ve seen really elevated turnover levels in the manufacturing and distribution industry and beyond. Kyle, could you tell us about what’s driving that and what folks are doing about it?
Kyle Uebelhor: Great question, Parker. I’m going to tell you the race for talent is top of mind for many of our clients right now. And actually, we saw it in the heart of 2020 beginning, and then obviously it took root and took off in 2021. What we’re seeing right now is upwards of 15 to 17, and in some cases 20 to 21, percent turnover in your marketing and sales or your commercial team. And the root cause is really kind of that head scratcher that we’re all looking at. I think the great resignation has something to do with it. That’s probably accelerated by that sort of silver tsunami, those aged out are aging current contributors that we’ve got. But there’s a lot more to it than just that. I think that’s the interesting part, Arshad, as we’re seeing it.
Arshad Carim: Yeah, there’s a culture element to right. Companies are starting to get exposed that have maybe a less developed or poorer culture. And, you know, people are looking for different things, right? And especially with the pandemic, looking maybe for a real match between what their desires, what their destiny is and how that fits with the corporate values.
Kyle Uebelhor: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. Culture is king here, and I think that’s not to say that you all have to sort of match to a certain type of culture, but rather be true to your culture and make that message very clear. And I think the one thing that we are seeing, in some early stages of the recent research that we’ve done in particular, we’ve polled several hundred chief executives recently, and it really is to win the race for talent, it’s about winning the employee experience or making sure that that commercial team that you’ve got is engaged in who you are, creating that destiny that they help charter for themselves, but also for the organization. And they feel like they’re are part of something bigger. Arshad, dollars alone aren’t going to solve this problem.
Arshad Carim: Yeah, we talk all the time about customer experience. But you know, I like to think now the equation is EX, employee experience, equals CX. And if you’re not considering those on the same level, you’re probably not in a great place as it relates to this race for talent. So, you know, empowering people is important, especially our people who are customer-facing and how they can make good decisions in the name of great customer experience, which also comes back into a good and solid employee experience. And I think the other thing that’s an impact of this is talent acquisition and retention is getting turned on its head. And we’re hearing stories when we’re talking to leaders in organizations today about how they are really rethinking from end to end, how they bring in people, the process, the speed at which they move and how that all comes together to bring in talent to the organization. And then what they’re doing afterwards to make sure that they quickly get ramped up and can be effective. And also feel that tether, right, feel that tether between their individual development and destiny and the corporate mission, the culture. How do we connect all that together in a tighter, tighter way.
Kyle Uebelhor: That’s right. You know, our bold prediction is this, though. We still anticipate higher than average turnover over the next 12 months. And for us, higher than average, anything north of 10 percent is concerning. 10 is a good number. It’s a good, healthy number. But we’re thinking and seeing right now that, you know, 15 percent plus could be the norm. So think about some of those things we just mentioned as it means to combat that issue and maybe win the race for talent sooner than some of your peers.
Arshad Carim: Yeah, the bumpy ride is going to continue, in our view, for a while in terms of turnover. So strap in and make sure you’re gearing up.
Parker Thomas: Thanks a lot for those insights, Kyle and Arshad, on the race for talent. Tune in for the rest of our 2022 predictions.