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Author's profile photo Lynn Lupo

Can People Strategies Pay Off for Distributors?

As wholesale distributors set their focus for 2018, there are many trends to consider. The industry is changing, and companies must change both processes and mindset to stay competitive. An increasing number of companies are looking at the HR area to help move their business forward. A survey by Modern Distribution Management (MDM) showed that 73% of respondents plan to prioritize HR this year.

For distributors, a changing industry and a changing world present some HR challenges they haven’t seen in the past. Many distributors had the benefit of long term employees, some with over 40 years of service to the company. They didn’t need to think about attracting new employees or about how to keep them. But as these experienced employees retire, distributors are faced with several employment challenges. The new workforce thinks differently, and the world is more connected. Companies must find new ways to attract employees and manage a multigenerational talent pool. Training employees and keeping them engaged demands ongoing attention. How are distributors addressing these concerns?

Creative Recruiting

Job-seekers may not think about a career in wholesale distribution. In fact, many people may not even be aware of the industry. Distributors need to take a fresh look at their company to communicate with the younger candidate pool. In the article “Leveraging the Changing Workforce”, author Paul St. Germain talks about the creative ways distributors are recruiting new candidates. For example, companies are promoting the benefits of a career in distribution – like the opportunity to quickly make an impact or having fun yet rewarding career. Some distributors are turning to social media sites like Linked-In and Twitter to recruit fresh talent.

Maximizing the Multi-Generational Workforce

Much has been written about the differences between generations. But companies are receiving big benefits from multi-generational teams. The article “Why Baby Boomers and Millennials Make Great Teams” (99U) discusses the strengths and characteristics of each generation and how they complement each other. By giving these teams a shared goal, companies are achieving innovative outcomes. And studies have shown that the biggest gap in understanding isn’t between millennials and baby boomers, but between management and all generations of workers. (See the NAW article cited above.) Strategies that maximize the similarities and differences of each generation can contribute to success.

Onboard and Engaged

A recent survey shows that over a third of employers lack a structured onboarding process and are feeling the negative consequences (tED Magazine, “Your Top 6 Hiring Challenges…Solved!”). Distributors are finding value in a more formal onboarding and training process. They are also tapping into the broad and deep experience of their seasoned workers. These long-term employees can help new hires to understand the history, culture, and business of the company. There is also a focus on engaging employees throughout their employment. Opportunities for advancement, ongoing training, and a collaborative culture can help employees feel valued and invested.

Productive employees will continue to be an important component of distributors’ success. Companies that focus on people strategies are likely to receive a big return.


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