Press Release


ORLANDO, Fla., May 8, 2023

Gartner Says Labor Productivity Declines Endanger Critical Supply Chain Objectives

Opening Keynote at Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™ Highlights Three Areas for Chief Supply Chain Officers to Unlock New Sources of Productivity

Historically low labor productivity levels threaten every aspect of the Chief Supply Chain Officer’s (CSCO) agenda, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner experts shared these findings today during the opening keynote presentation at the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™, which is taking place here through Wednesday.

“Labor productivity levels are historically low and stalled out, in large part due to lack of investment in workforce innovations. One clear symptom is that turnover is 33% higher in supply chain organizations compared to pre-pandemic levels,” said Caroline Chumakov, Director Analyst in Gartner’s Supply Chain Practice. “While that may paint a discouraging picture, it also provides an excellent basis for supply chain leaders to experiment and rethink how they unlock, mobilize and augment the workforce to greater productivity.”

Gartner Director Analyst Caroline Chumakov presents at Gartner Supply Chain Symoposium/Xpo™ 2023 in Orlando, FL.

Chumakov recommended that CSCOs focus on unlocking individual potential, community potential and technological potential in support of workforce enablement to reverse the trend. Each area can unlock significant productivity gains and can be harnessed together to deliver on the legacy objectives that CSCOs most prioritize.

  • Individual potential – High-demand skills are often already available in supply chain organizations but are too often trapped by the confining nature of the job description. CSCOs can unlock more skills and flexibility by breaking down projects into component tasks and seeking skills needed for those tasks across the entire organization and even beyond it. This can be applied to challenging positions requiring multiple skills.

    “Often these complex positions can be distilled into a handful of core roles that can be more effectively aligned to individual employee strengths,” Chumakov said.
  • Community potential – Organizations can leverage crisis situations and market opportunities as a reason to breakdown silos and find new, more efficient organizational structures. These spontaneous reorganizations happened at many companies during the initial disruptions of the COVID era and can be productively harnessed to build resiliency in the face of new challenges, such as persistent inflation or a potential economic downturn.

    “The nature of these big challenges demand a new, community-driven approach where people come together across reporting lines and even across organizational boundaries. It also requires decision-making that is continuous, within the context of the extended supply chain and connected to critical stakeholders,” said Chumakov.
  • Technological potential – New technology solutions, such as actionable AI and smart robotics, can make work easier and less mundane for employees, but employee mistrust of these technologies threaten to stymie the full set of benefits on offer. All new ways of working should be designed with the human-technology relationship in mind. Organizations should also prioritize reciprocal learning – the opportunity for employees to safely make sense of new technology, and technology can learn from human input.

More information is available in the Future of Supply Chain ebook.  

About Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™
Gartner experts are discussing key issues facing the industry during Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™. The conference delivers the must-have insights, strategies and frameworks for CSCOs and supply chain leaders to drive impact within their organizations. Supply chain leaders are gathering to gain a strategic view of the trends disrupting their business and the insights and frameworks they can use to prepare for disruption, enable digital transformation and build sustainability as a competitive advantage.

Upcoming dates and locations for Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™, include:

June 5-7: Barcelona

About the Gartner Supply Chain Practice
The Gartner Supply Chain Practice provides actionable, objective insights for supply chain leaders and their teams, so they can respond to disruption and innovate for the future through leading-edge supply chain management practices. Additional information is available at Follow news and updates from the Gartner Supply Chain Practice on LinkedIn and Twitter using #GartnerSC. Visit the Supply Chain Newsroom for more information and insights.


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Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight that drives smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission-critical priorities. To learn more, visit