Over three quarters of supply chain and logistics leaders are experiencing notable workforce shortages in their operations, with more than a third characterising the resource shortage they face as  either high or extreme, according to a study by Descartes Systems Group.

The study, dubbed How Bad Is the Supply Chain and Logistics Workforce Challenge?, surveyed over 1,000 supply chain and logistics decision-makers in late 2023 in nine European countries, as well as in Canada and the United States. 

The survey found that 76% of logistics leaders reported labour shortages, while 37% rated these shortages as either high or extreme. The survey also showed the problem is taking a toll on customer service performance, with 58% specifying that workforce shortages have negatively impacted service levels. 

The areas suffering the most from resource shortages were transportation operations (61%) and warehouse operations (56%). However, more than half (55%) of supply chain and logistics leaders said knowledge workers are the hardest to hire, just as they are becoming increasingly important as supply chain and logistics operations become more technology-enabled and data-driven. 

Chris Jones, Descartes EVP of industry, said: ”With economies cooling and Covid more manageable, the general thinking has been that companies would see the workforce shortages of the past few years subside; however, this does not appear to be the case.

”The study shows that, post-pandemic, supply chain and logistics organizations continue to struggle getting the labour, knowledge workers and leaders they need to thrive.

”With business performance driven by both the quantity and quality of the workforce, supply chain and logistics leaders need to rethink not just their hiring and retention strategies but also how technology can help to mitigate current and future workforce challenges.” 

Results also showed that the impact of workforce shortages varied by financial performance, growth, management’s perceived importance of supply chain and logistics operations, and the success of employee retention programmes.

Employment contract

Employment contract

Source: Shutterstock

Shutterstock 01/02/24, employment contract

The study stated: ”There’s evidence that business performance is interrelated—and that the impact of workforce shortages can be mitigated by business leaders understanding the full potential of their supply and logistics operations and the importance of employee retention to supply chain and logistics performance.”