Wholesale distribution is a vital link in the global supply chain. Learn the basics of wholesale distribution and get examples of top distributors in the industry.
The pandemic has been a significant catalyst for change, spurring business leaders to reevaluate their strategies. For wholesale distributors, one area that’s gaining momentum is how to improve the employee experience.
The wholesale distribution industry employs approximately 6 million people, representing 4% of US employees. Despite the industry’s size, many distributors have been slow to drive digital transformation.
However, that’s changing as they face an inflection point that’s separating winners from losers. B2B marketplaces and born-in-the-cloud distributors are competing for employees and customers, forcing traditional distributors to change their ways.
And after months of working remotely and changing health protocols, back-office employees are reluctant to return to the office and jobs reliant on repetitive, manual tasks. Instead, they’re looking for more meaningful work, putting pressure on distributors to double down on their investment into their employee experience.
Distributors: How to improve the employee experience
Survey after survey tells us that employees who feel supported and rewarded appropriately are motivated and happy with their work.
Distributors that have adopted technology to eliminate repetitive tasks like the manual keying in of orders into the ERP-system have reaped tremendous benefits.
Free to focus on value-added tasks, their employees perform better, achieve more, and are more loyal to the organization. Employees are invested in doing work they enjoy, knowing they’re contributing beyond their individual experience to the greater good of their team and organization.
However, implementing a meaningful employee experience initiative and fundamentally changing the culture doesn’t happen overnight. Every organization is made up of diverse personal and professional experiences, and there’s no “one size that fits all.”
So, creating a positive employee experience isn’t a “one and done” activity, but rather an ongoing process to drive gradual improvements. Managing these initiatives requires a coordinated effort across the organization, continuously listening to feedback, and offering opportunities that help employees do their best.
Once equipped with feedback and insights, distributors can focus on designing an employee experience blueprint and implementation plan as a long-term organizational strategy. Then, they can develop initiatives that accommodate all roles, from back-office workers to those working on the logistics fulfillment side of the business.
5 steps for improving the distributor employee experience
Now’s the time for distributors to invest in modern technology to bolster the employee experience in the workplace. Here are a few ways in which wholesale distributors can create greater workforce resiliency and loyalty.
- Inspire the entire workforce with engaging experiences designed to improve people performance. Start by surveying staff to gain insights into employee sentiments and ideas for innovation.
- Provide collaboration tools to drive ongoing business alignment, openness for change, and business agility. Foster engagement across department borders to improve collaboration.
- Provide Business Process Intelligence (BPI) capabilities to identify bottlenecks and process breaks and help streamline and eliminate low-value activities.
- Reduce repetitive and routine tasks with embedded analytics, machine learning-based exception handling, and automated workflows to empower staff and accelerate fact-based decision making.
- Establish shared service centers supported by intelligent robotic process automation tools like chatbots for less complex customer activities, so service agents can focus on more complex customer inquiries.
The foundation of every company is its people. The more wholesale distributors focus on how they can improve the employee experience across the entire organization, the faster they can accelerate time to productivity for new hires, internal transfers, and promotions.
The result will be increased in retention and ultimately happy employees. And when employees are happy, the results will show up in the bottom line.