Add the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the chorus of voices continuing to warn about how labor shortages are impeding progress in supply chains.

From the Society for Human Resource Management to futuristic models devised by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, everybody expects the task of finding workers to be tougher for the next few years. That’s probably why an EY survey of 1,200 CEOs found that 30% see the scarcity and cost of talent as major risks to their business this year.

For us in supply chain, finding the right labor is even tougher. Few in the younger generations want to work full-time in a warehouse – and many do not want to work full time at all.

The “social” part of ESG (environmental, social, governance) is defined by how companies treat their workers. And many younger workers prefer optionality – the ability to set their own schedules. They take second or third jobs, stringing together multiple streams of income – from delivery services to Uber to bartending. People these days can live a quality life without one full-time gig. Others want the flexibility to take the night off and study for tomorrow’s test, care for an ailing relative or handle other personal tasks.

During the pandemic, some discovered that they liked having one parent at home to take care of the children and handle daily household duties. Unfortunately, that required the other parent to get a second part-time or flexible job to maintain household finances.

Either way, the independence vibe in today’s workforce is undeniable.

This points toward flexible labor options for getting warehouse work done. But you cannot expect to pull anybody in off the street, stick them in a warehouse (which are increasingly high-tech these days) and expect them to function well. It’s much more preferable to deal with agencies that specialize in providing flexible logistics labor.

Such agencies offer opportunities for training, career advancement and work-life balance to professionals who aim to work in supply chain for years. For the employer, they offer profitability, risk management, scalability and sustainability.

Paying attention to the “social” part of ESG could be the key for supply chain leaders to at least partially solve our continuing labor woes.