02/08/2021

Supply Chain Labor 2021 Outlook

Guy on Forklift

Supply Chain Labor 2021 Outlook

Featuring Nancy Stefanowicz, EVP, Chief Human Resource Officer at NFI

What do you think will be in store for the industry in 2021? 

All human resource (HR) professionals in 2020 have learned how to work through disruption. I think of 2008, the year the finance teams came into the forefront to be creative as they weathered the financial storm, 2020 has been the year for human resources teams to do the same. HR has to think about the future of work. I think we need to look at reskilling and up-skilling. I believe that the focus on the future of work with diversity and inclusion, change management, and current and future leadership is all the focus of what Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) are looking at, whether it be in the supply chain industry or across the profession. We’re all focused on working a little bit differently. We’re all focused on being able to be agile and be not only reactive, but more proactive in the work that we’re doing next year.

I think that in 2021 will have a lot of learnings from 2020. The way that we’ve all learned to work is different. If you had asked me to hold meetings over Zoom a year ago I would have thought you were crazy, and I don’t think it’s just NFI. I think it’s everybody learning how to work differently. The frontline folks in the warehouses are working with masks, using the proper protective equipment, taking their temperatures, and being safe all day. Office employees are learning to work from home, maybe having children or dogs around. I think we’ve adjusted remarkably as a country and as an industry and I think we’ll all learn from that. I don’t think work will ever look the same 2021 and beyond.

What labor considerations should be taken into account in 2021?

From a people perspective in 2021, the survival of our business is really going to depend upon ensuring our workforces are feeling supported. So when you look at this talent war, and it’s real, those that survive are going to be the ones that can attract talent in a way that is new and that meets the needs of the workforce that’s looking for jobs. I think it’s leveraging your organization to be able to use your internal resources to get the best people that you can. I think the actual wage pressures that exist, everybody’s going to need to adapt. We’re going to have to look at paying people differently. Wage pressure is real and shippers are seeing it, our industry is seeing it, and I think quite frankly, across industries are seeing it as well. It’s such a funny time for employers to be able to attract talent because believe it or not, there are lots of jobs out there and people have a choice about where to go. So when you think about what’s important, culture, communication, and your purpose is so important and meaningful to employees that I think the employers that focus on that internal lens will have the best luck in attracting and retaining talent of the future.

What are NFI’s labor priorities in 2021?

I think from NFI, we’re going to focus on our organizational strategy to drive business results. We’re going to do that around our people. We’ll continue to be the drivers of our culture and our purpose and remain steadfast in our corporate values. We’re going to continue to adjust and define our diversity and inclusion strategy. That’s going to be a big focus for us in 2021. I think all heads of HR are looking to drive transformation and be prepared to work in disruption. Like I spoke about previously, we need to definitely adjust to shifts in the work environment and continue to develop the best talent in the industry at NFI. We’re going to continue to equip leaders to lead through this uncertainty and keep up with the rapid pace of change. None of us knew what to expect in 2020, and quite frankly, don’t know exactly what to expect in 2021.

We’re going to have a new administration. We’re going to still be in this pandemic for some amount of time. We’re going to still be challenged with attracting the very best talent that we can. I think now that we’ve learned so much and put so many of the protocols and policies in place, we’re going to be able to focus on that important, more strategic work that is very focused on not only our frontline leaders, but on all of our leaders to be able to manage through this uncertainty and deliver on our customer’s expectations. Our businesses continuing to grow at rapid rates means the demands on our employees are also growing. We’re encouraging creative staffing and creative scheduling to make sure that we’re able to meet those employees’ needs and continue to be an employer of choice; a place where people say, “I want to work at NFI” and I think everybody in our industry should be focused on those same items.

What are you most excited about in 2021?

For 2021, I’m excited that we have 2020 behind us. I think 2020 has set the parameters and it’s set the guidelines for so much of how we’re going to work in 2021. I think we’re ready to face that. I think we’re ready to embrace it. I think our people are excited to continue to meet our customer demands. We’re excited to get new customers and to continue to be able to focus on retaining the great talent that we have and bringing more talent into the organization. I think NFI is uniquely positioned to do that as we’ve responded and reacted so well during this tumultuous time during 2020.


Nancy Stefanowicz - NFINancy Stefanowicz, EVP, Chief Human Resource Officer, leads the human resources, talent acquisition, and development initiatives at NFI. Overseeing various groups, Nancy continues to attract, develop, and retain talent across the organization.