FUTURE WORK: 5 TRENDS THAT MIGHT CHANGE THE BUSINESS UNIVERSE (PART 1)

Talent in Logistics delves into the future of our industry by imagining how present trends might reconfigure the workplace by 2030.

The hammer of the future descends. To paraphrase the spuriously attributed ‘ancient Chinese curse’, we are living in interesting times. Covid-19 in particular has presented a challenge to business unprecedented in the last half century, but the pandemic is only one of multiple impactors beating the business world out of its current shape: Brexit, the home delivery boom, increasing focus on social inequalities, the tectonic creaking of global economies as they shift against each other. The degree of success logistics firms will enjoy in 10 years’ time depends on whether the force of change shatters them open along old fault lines or is harnessed to shape them into something stronger and tougher.

In order to help readers get a head start in the notoriously tricky business of augury, TIL will be looking carefully into present day trends. These trends were established in a November 2020 paper by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), so all credit goes to CIPD for identifying and developing these. The paper in question is available in the link at the top of the page. TIL also got in touch with customer experience expert Clare Muscutt, founder and director of CMX Ltd., for some additional insight into the nature of the challenges ahead.

1. Internal Change

In the short term, Covid-19 has necessitated bold changes in the way organisations operate and make decisions. But the long-term consequences of this culture shock are yet to become clear. What can be said is that traditional ways of working are being challenged—not least the role of the ‘workplace’. With the viability of work-from-home proven, potential cost savings and the flexibility work-from-home solutions offers employees may redefine our concept of the workplace from a physical space to a social and technological network.

The need to manage operations at a distance is increasing the relevance both of technological communications platforms such as Zoom and workflow management solutions such as Monday.com. The proliferation of these and growing concern about information overload may force organisations to rethink both how they communicate and what, perhaps leading to more stringent policing of internal communication (fewer emails? Yes, please.)

Businesses on high alert, in aiming to react dynamically, may even dissolve traditional organisational leader/team structures in favour of mobilising possies to confront specific projects before disbanding and reassigning them once their objectives are complete.

Here, Clare issued us this word of warning: excessive, ill-considered or mismanaged change could atomise unwary businesses. Getting transformation right is a delicate process requiring clear objectives, unwavering customer focus, and the right methodology and tools.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Technological and Digital Transformation

Tech has a habit of bowling googlies to the business world. Impossible to augur innovations force large scale changes on an increasingly regular basis (the internet, mobile tech, data). The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2019) suggests more than one in ten jobs will cease to exist within the coming 15–20 years and a further 32% will be significantly different due to automation possibilities. This in turn could mean significant restructuring of the workforce, with reskilling and the development of new roles—not to mention the obvious social and ethical ramifications of removing so many jobs from the market. And this is the predicted impact of just one sphere of technological advancement: automation.

Much as with internally motivated change, the drive to adopt sexy new tech can also be dangerous. For Clare, any change is dangerous where top-down decisions are made without input from frontline staff, as their on-the-ground expertise can be used to identify potentially devastating pitfalls before they become costly mistakes.

Anecdotally, the author of this article saw the evidence for this first-hand, working in education: the school that replaced all its whiteboards with glitzy, unreliable computer tech without asking the teachers; the school that installed an advanced multimedia classroom suite for foreign languages without realising the department lacked the skills necessary even to send an email with an attachment.

In light of risks such as these, the appetite in the logistics industry may be to ‘defend traditional ways of working’, making businesses slower to transition. But if the growth of home delivery shows anything it is that logistics will likely be profoundly affected by changes—whether it chooses to engage with them or not.

Our analysis of the five trends that may change the business universe continues next week, when we look at what the future holds for employment relationships, diversity and inclusion and responsible business.

Based on findings from CIPD’s People Profession 2030 report.

IN TIMES OF CHANGE, IT’S PEOPLE THAT MATTER

While every industry has been affected by the global health emergency that we are all living through, the logistics industry has endured a particularly difficult time. Some sectors have faced unprecedented spike in demand, with online shopping and consumer stockpiling causing challenges for the retail and groceries sectors. On the other hand, firms transporting goods for the construction, hospitality and events industries saw varied demands making the daily management of its fleet operations and staff levels problematic.

Many transport and logistics workers became ‘key workers’ during the pandemic, allowing them to continue doing their jobs even as everything else shut down. For months, they have worked tirelessly to ensure the country has what it needs during one of the most challenging periods in recent memory.

Mike Hayward of Woodfines Solicitors explains further. 

Protecting your workforce

Those working in high-demand sectors, such as warehousing and distribution, have been under huge pressure to perform during lockdown. All the while knowing that the nature of their jobs means they may be more exposed to contracting the virus. They have maintained the supply chain admirably and deserve gratitude, like the many other key workers who have supported people throughout the first lockdown.  Compounding these difficulties is the known driver shortage and aging workforce (particularly among haulage drivers).

There are many varied roles in logistics, but those behind the wheel of their delivery vans or HGV will often be working alone and sometimes for long periods of time. Couple this with restrictions imposed by Covid-19, they may face longer periods alone compared to others who may be in a team environment. These periods of isolation could add to anxiety and potentially impact on mental health. Drivers should not be overlooked accordingly, and their mental health monitored as far as possible.

In difficult times, looking after your people has never been more important.

Placing increased emphasis on communication and supporting employees’ mental and physical wellbeing will do wonders for logistic workers’ morale, productivity and health. Retention in the workplace can be problematic so checking on your workers can increase a feeling of belonging and inclusion.  Businesses are working hard to navigate through the financial pressures caused through the pandemic restrictions and the constantly evolving situation, but compliance with health and safety measures and taking steps to maximise the wellbeing of their workforce is essential.

This can be achieved by:

·       Effectively communicating and enforcing new policies and procedures, such as social distancing within warehouses and contactless deliveries for haulage drivers.

·       Supporting employees’ physical health by ensuring they take adequate breaks and providing them with suitable PPE and hand sanitizer.

·       Incentivising employees to take sick leave if they develop symptoms by providing them with information about government sick pay entitlement and the firm’s own sickness absence policy.

·        Placing emphasis on mental health and wellbeing and ensuring that staff are aware of the support available to them.

The Government, through the HSE, are issuing guidance in respect of various workplaces including in vehicles and business premises. Business mangers should keep up to date with that guidance accordingly.

This should not just be a tick box exercise, but to include measures that are of benefit to their staff and will promote a positive working environment and hopefully reduce staff turnover and build business repute.

A wealth of opportunities for new talent

While the pandemic has led to thousands of job losses, logistics looks set to become a major driver of employment going forward. In April 2020, the British Chamber of Commerce revealed that logistics was seeing the biggest demand for staff; Amazon alone stated its intention to hire an additional 100,000 warehouse staff at the height of lockdown. Now, as the country teeters on the brink of a second wave and Christmas rapidly approaches, a well-staffed logistics industry is set to be more important than ever. With the government currently pushing its ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ drive, there is greater potential than ever before to attract talent from other industries, with transferrable skills that could help drive positive change.

Speaking as I do regularly to educational establishments, I seek to encourage people into the sector by explaining the diverse range of opportunities available and the imposition of supply chain working. The industry is well regulated and requires a high degree of professionalism at all levels.

In these times it is the perfect time to reach out to younger generations to teach them just how rewarding a career in logistics can be. Just last year, a Talent in Logistics report revealed that only 8% of young people consider the sector to be an attractive career option, while 42% do not have a clue what logistics means. The pandemic has made the logistics industry more visible as we receive more goods and deliveries to our homes, and this has led to a new found appreciation of the vital role of the logistics sector. Now could be the perfect moment to appeal to younger generations, many of whom have seen their career prospects damaged by the pandemic and may now be more receptive to a wider variety of employment opportunities.

What’s more, the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which directly pays employers who create jobs for 16 to 25-year-olds on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, provides a massive incentive for logistics firms to start taking on younger staff. It also rewards employers who take on trainees and apprentices under the age of 25. With just 9% of the current logistics workforce under the age of 25, there is no better opportunity to rectify the historic lack of new talent entering the field.

A new era

The industry is currently standing on a precipice between the old world and the new. Ahead lies a wealth of opportunities for logistics firms to thrive in a post-COVID world. Much is still uncertain, but ensuring you look after the people you have and being proactive in attracting new talent is an excellent way to start planning for a prosperous future. In the words of Walt Disney himself: “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”

LEARNING AS A BENEFIT

During my career in education and skills development the focus has always been around working with organisations to identify skills gaps within their networks and to support them in providing their staff with the necessary training and education to get them where the business needs to be done.

However, what if the end goal of education wasn’t just to equip staff with training relating to their role? This may seem radical and rash, especially when I always hear how Learning & Development budgets are being cut, but here is why this might be worthwhile you reading on…

Any new learning can stimulate brain changes which in turn improves performance. The more we stimulate our brain the denser the myelin in our brains becomes, which helps the brain to take on even more!  Learning new skills also stimulate the neurons in our brains which assist in learning more things quicker over time.  This stimulation creates more neural pathways enabling electrical impulses to travel faster across them. The more pathways that are formed, the faster impulses can travel enabling the brain to take on more information quicker.

That’s the science, but it’s well-known that a bored, unstimulated person is far less productive than an engaged person. From a mental health standpoint, this helps keep the brain agile and able to take on new tasks.  I remember when I first became a mother, my mid-wife said, ‘a happy mother makes for a happy baby’. I feel this is the same in the workplace too: ‘A happy workforce makes for a happy and productive business.’

So, for a moment let’s reflect on this: ‘what is it that my workforce really need to enable them to be the most effective team?’ or from an employee’s perspective ‘what is it that makes my job feel unfulfilled and monotonous?’ Could new activities and education support this rather than just specific job training?

The Open University has been working with various organisations to support ‘learning as a benefit in a variety of different ways. These range from attracting people to areas that have struggled with staff retention either by rewarding staff for their service and loyalty to a company or by acknowledging that their organisation is a stepping stone for them moving into another career. I recently worked with one large organisation who actually saw social mobility and job retention as part of their CSR so they are funding staff to study law, engineering and nursing courses whilst continuing to work in their logistics organisation. The return on investment for them is greater staff retention and savings in recruitment and training but also knowing they have supported the UK economy with a skills shortage in key areas.

Most recently, the Open University has been working in partnership with Uber. The Uber team views education as a benefit, not only for the drivers who use the app, but also the wider community; for example, a driver’s family. Thanks to this initiative, over 750 drivers have enjoyed the opportunity to convert their international qualifications into ones recognised in the UK, train in a new career, or support a family member studying for a degree. As the majority of drivers are from lower income households or have English as their second language, this programme is a pioneering example of the OU’s mission to make education accessible to all via flexible learning at work.

I have also had conversations with retailers on how education could be passed on to VIP customers as a benefit as well. Imagine if you could, as a customer, earn enough reward points towards a qualification or you knew using one retailer would gain you a sponsored place on a programme if you were loyal to them for many years?

My argument is that organisations shouldn’t just see education as sitting within their HR department confined to a decreasing L&D budget. It shouldn’t just be focused on workforce skills development. It can mean so much more. It can mean a more agile workforce that is more mentally resilient, a happy and productive workforce that is more eager to take on new projects and opportunities, it can support staff loyalty – and potentially customer loyalty too, but fundamentally it would also truly mark that organisation out as an aspirational place to work at or as a customer, to buy from.

If you would like to watch the Uber case study video click here or contact me at Elizabeth.hanway@open.ac.uk

INFORMATION, INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION AT THE TALENT IN LOGISTICS ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Talent in Logistics Annual Conference

The Talent in Logistics Annual Conference 2020 took place on 23rd September, and although it could not bring us together in person, the online event still proved an informative, inspiring and motivating day for all involved.

After a welcome from our Talent in Logistics Business Development Director Ruth Edwards, the online conference kicked off with a topic front of mind for many in our sector – The Road to Recovery.

Paul Hudson, Chief Executive Officer of System Group, the Conference Sponsor, discussed the evolving needs or learners and employers, and how innovation and creativity in learning can play a role.  Attendees went away with ideas for how to develop practical, inspiring and value-added solutions for learners, that cater to company’s differing needs, despite all the changes to the people development space due to Covid-19.

RESPONDING TO THE DIGITAL SKILLS GAP

Next, Jane Dickinson and Liz Hanway from the Open University looked at how a demand for software engineering, AI and automation skills are increasing in the logistics sector, as the digital landscape has evolved increasingly quickly since the pandemic. Findings from the Open University’s recent Bridging the Digital Divide and Leading in a Digital Age were shared providing helpful insights on how business can be ready for digital transformation and change.

THOUGHT-PROVOKING CONFERENCE KEYNOTE

International consultant Liggy Webb led our conference keynote presentation, “How to lead a culture of wellbeing and resilience”.  This motivating session taught us as employers how to support mental health and overall wellbeing and manage emotions through change, volatility and uncertainty, as well as be aware of rising stress levels and avoid potential burnout. The importance of open communication, leading with compassion and empathy and being a role model in providing wellbeing guidance and support were some of the standout takeaways.

PREPARATION FOR WHAT LIES AHEAD

The next two sessions equipped attendees with knowledge and tools to navigate the tricky times ahead for the logistics sector and the economy. In “Business transformation – engaging people in change”, independent change consultant Calley Martin looked at why we this is important and how we can overcome the obstacles to engaging people in this process. Then Gwen Powell, International Manager at Investors in People, looked at “How to thrive and build organisational resilience in challenging times”, and discussed the role of how businesses engage with the community and the ways that this can help organisations thrive in a post COVID-19 landscape.

HGV DRIVER ENGAGEMENT – RESEARCH RESULTS REVEALED!

Then it was our turn to take the (virtual) stage! Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics explored the findings of our recent research project on HGV driver engagement and how understanding the key challenges around engaging, attracting and retaining talent is the first step in helping the transport and logistics sector tackle its skills shortage. Ruth then went into more detail on employee engagement and how this can positively impact employee retention in the workplace.

Download the ‘Driving Engagement in Logistics’ White Paper to read the full research results.

LEADING AND MANAGING PEOPLE YOU RARELY SEE – IF AT ALL

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy & Standards, Institute of Leadership & Management rounded off the day with a session looking at the challenges managers face when leading dispersed teams – never more relevant than during these times of home working (and attending virtual conference!)

Kate shared some interested institute research around this topic as well as the key considerations for leaders and managers -existing and aspirational – who want to ensure that out of sight is definitely not out of mind, even when working remotely.

THANK YOU!

Yesterday’s Talent in Logistics Annual Conference proved very positive, with lots of practical advice as well as knowledge sharing to help our sector improve its people strategies and attract and retain the best talent. Thank you to all the speakers for your insightful sessions and your part in making this a worthwhile event, and thanks again to our Conference Sponsor System Group.

MISS IT?

If you didn’t make it to the conference, there is no need to miss out. Contact us to register to receive videos of the sessions.

And remember! Our calendar of events is not over for the year yet! The Talent in Logistics Awards takes place on 1st October online. Register now for free so that you can watch the streamed event and celebrate the amazing people in our logistics community.

GO IN OR STAY HOME?

Working from Home

The government is once again asking British people to ‘work from home if you can’ amid fears a second lockdown may be approaching. The request comes amid a surge in coronavirus infections which has built steadily throughout the month.

The message represents a rapid retreat from the government’s 1st September  campaign to get people back into the workplace. But cases have been rising across Europe since mid-July, with Spain and Greece suffering serious resurgences and the UK following close behind.

In light of this, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the following comment in his speech to Parliament outlining the new restrictions; ‘unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will last perhaps six months.’ The Prime Minister later noted that workers should keep going in if it is important for their job, mental health, or wellbeing.

Advice on the GOV.UK website singles out office workers particularly, stating that those ‘who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter’, adding, ‘where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.’

The leeway this offers presents those working in logistics with a decision about how to proceed that will need to be carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis. One of the key concerns is likely to be balancing the risk of infection with other physical and mental health concerns.

This risk becomes particularly significant when we consider the dramatic increase in health issues that follows in the wake of financial crisis. An report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies in April, citing a paper by Janke et al. (2020), stated, ‘if employment were to fall by the same amount as it fell in the 12 months after the 2008 crisis, around 900,000 more people of working age would be predicted to suffer from a chronic health condition’, with mental health issues accounting for the largest share.

Speaking to HR Magazine, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD advised that employers ‘ensure managers are regularly checking in with their teams, are asking about their wellbeing and signposting to support services where necessary.’

But while sensitive conversations will play a part in safeguarding mental health, it is important to recognise that it is economic hardship and uncertainty causing these outcomes, and even the frankest conversations and best resources can only do so much to mitigate these.

More than anything, employees will need clear information on how the situation is progressing and how their lives may be affected. Also speaking to HR, Shakeel Dad, employment partner at the law firm Addleshaw Goddard, noted, ‘more will become clearer in the coming days, but one thing that remains clear is that transparency and open communication with employees remains key.’

The decision of who comes in and who stays home is not one to be taken lightly, and with the GOV.UK website offering advice to employees who feel they are being pressured to return to an unsafe environment, a rise in work disputes may be another of the unfortunate side effects of the pandemic.

This makes ensuring our workplaces follow Covid-secure guidelines all the more essential in the coming weeks. Those who must return to the workplace need to be able to do so with the risk of infection mitigated as much as possible.

Sources

COVID-19: THE MENTAL HEALTH COST

Covid-19: The Mental Health Cost

As the Covid-19 crisis has developed, we have learned a great deal about the physical impact of this new illness. But the threat to mental health may also be very significant. Recent reports from Public Health England and the Health Foundation have identified a number of repercussions both for sufferers and the wider population.

For sufferers, the mental and physical toll of contracting and recovering from such a distressing illness can result in a variety of negative outcomes. According to an Italian study published in August, 55% of the 402 patients participating were observed to be suffering a mental health condition, with PTSD, anxiety, depression and even symptoms of OCD scoring highly. The causes of these effects could be both social and physiological, according to the study’s authors, who cited physical inflammation as well as isolation, fear of infecting others, social stigma and mental trauma as potential contributing factors.

In more extreme cases, Covid-19 sufferers have even reported experiencing hallucinations and panic attacks. In light of these lingering effects and the pressures associated with lockdown, calls are being made for employers to respond with care when dealing with employee sufferers, with one researcher calling on employers ‘to show flexibility in helping Covid survivors return to work,’ according to a report in the Guardian.

The mental health costs of the illness are not limited to those incurred by sufferers, however. Fears regarding the illness, grief over lost loved ones and anxiety stemming from the economic crisis are also contributing to an increase in the rate of psychiatric disorders. Public Health England’s September 8 report states that ‘mental distress… was 8.1% higher in April 2020 than it was between 2017 and 2019’, and that ‘over 30% of adults reported levels of mental distress indicative that treatment may be needed, compared to around 20% between 2017 and 2019.’

The report goes on to stress that the pandemic ‘has had a larger adverse impact on the mental health and wellbeing of some groups than others’, identifying young people and women as particularly vulnerable.

This supports the findings of the Health Foundation’s August 30 publication ‘Generation COVID-19’, which reported ‘young people aged 12–24 years are one of the worst-affected groups, particularly in terms of the labour market and mental health outcomes.’ A significantly higher number of young people reported struggling to concentrate, not being able to enjoy day-to-day activities, feeling unhappy and depressed and not feeling useful in comparison to 2017/18 figures.

Taking these phenomena into account, it is more important than ever that the logistics sector pays heed to the mental health needs of all colleagues. In 2019, logistics was identified by Dr Sheena Johnson, occupational psychologist at Alliance Manchester Business School as ‘one of the sectors exposed to the effects of poor mental health.’ The potential for exposure is only increasing under the prolonged stress of the pandemic. Possible suggestions for addressing this stress may come from the 2019 Alliance MBS guidelines for managing the health of logistics sector workers, which include monitoring health, offering access to healthy food and increasing flexibility over work hours.

Sources

FURLOUGH: INEQUALITY & GETTING BACK TO WORK

Message on a label that reads ‘job retention scheme’ and carried in a miniature trolley

Remember 23rd March? It was the day that many businesses saw activity quickly come to a halt as the Government fought to contain the spread of Covid-19 through lockdown.

Soon enough in April, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was put in place to provide stability and security for those who were unable to continue working, whether this was due to lack of workload or temporary business closure. Since then, according to statistics by HMRC, over 9 million jobs have been furloughed and more than £35 billion has been claimed through PAYE schemes.

What those figures don’t show is that women were significantly more likely to be furloughed. A study by Cambridge-INET Institute found that inequality in care responsibilities played a large role in this, as mothers were more likely than fathers to initiate furlough talks, as opposed to their employers raising the issue.

The study also found that not all employees were furloughed equally, with some employers topping up employee’s salaries beyond the 80% provided by the government, while others didn’t. For those that weren’t put on furlough, many continued to work as they found they could still carry out their roles from the comfort of their own homes, putting in almost as many working hours as back in February 2020.

So, as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme comes to an end in a few months’ time, many workers are still unsure of what lies ahead for their position.

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said recently, “Our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected millions of jobs and businesses across the UK during the outbreak – and I’ve been clear that I want to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way.”

From the beginning of August, furloughed workers were able to return to work part-time with employers asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. Boris Johnson himself called for employees to return to work to boost a declining economy.

However, some of the country’s biggest businesses are defying this push by the government, with many businesses opting to continue to work remotely or delaying a partial return until September 2020 at the earliest. Some companies such as Google and NatWest are instead allowing their staff to work from home until 2021, showing a somewhat more permanent sign of a shift in the working culture.

With talks of a second wave of the virus looming, the government’s initial plans for a ‘significant normality’ by Christmas may be up in the air for now.

Coronavirus has not only heavily impacted the economy and working lives, but also shifted opinions on what is safe. For example, day-to-day activities such as bowling, going to the cinema or sitting next to a colleague in the office – where you wouldn’t have necessarily questioned safety and would have been a normality – now feel anything but ‘normal’.

It could be a very long time before people truly feel comfortable getting back to their routines of just earlier this year and begs the question of whether the working world will ever be the same again?

Sources

HOW TO BOOST LGV DRIVER MORALE

LGV Drivers

By Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics explains.

According to recent research by Talent in Logistics and Pertemps Driving Division, just 30% of LGV drivers in the UK feel valued and less than half of drivers feel motivated to work hard for their employers. Following recent months of uncertainty, it’s arguably more important than ever for drivers to feel secure and happy in their role and with their employer. So, what action can Local Authorities take to help boost LGV driver morale?

IT STARTS WITH ENGAGEMENT

Employee engagement represents the levels of enthusiasm and connection employees have with their organisation. Highly engaged employees tend to be loyal, committed and highly productive. On the flip side, there are actively disengaged employees, who can be toxic to your organisation. But which is which? The only way to really know is to ask. This is where employee engagement surveys come to the fore.

Surveys are great for getting feedback, but time has to be spent understanding why you are doing them and what you want to achieve. Consideration needs to be applied when designing the questions and you need to make sure they are followed up, or there is no point doing them!

Employee engagement is mostly driven by leaders and managers. So as a leader, you should demonstrate active listening, responsiveness and decisive action taking and ensure your people know what your company objectives are and how they can contribute towards them. A culture of transparency can help build trust and engagement and is very important – 52% of respondents stated that they’d rather have a trustworthy manager than a 5% pay rise. Yet our research highlighted that just 35% of drivers felt their leaders were open and honest.

THE COST OF MORALE

Money isn’t the only thing keeps people working hard, motivated, and happy in their job, but it is a factor. Our survey showed that 44% of drivers believed that a more attractive pay package would attract new drivers into the profession, yet only 33% feel they are paid well for the job that they do.

If drivers are doing a good job, they deserve to be rewarded for it. A higher salary tends to lead to a culture of high performance and productivity and drivers don’t tend to have unreasonable salary demands. They just want to be paid fairly for the job they do.

Rather than a pay rise, perhaps promotion to a different role or extra responsibilities would demonstrate you value a driver? Only 29% of the drivers we polled felt that career opportunities were clearly communicated so investing in an individual’s career shows that you recognise their value and is vital for morale.

RECOGNISE A JOB WELL DONE

Recognition helps create happier, more motivated, and more loyal staff.  However, things that have been considered perks in years gone by are now an expectation, so, you may need to think differently about your recognition initiatives.

Something as simple as introducing an ‘employee of the month’ can make a big difference to morale. Or why not implement a “thank you” board or jar where peers and managers can recognise a job well done? There is also various HR software where this can be done digitally. Some even enable employees to accrue ‘points’ which can later be exchanged for a tangible reward.

However, often the simplest way to demonstrate recognition and boost morale is to say thank you!  People want to work for managers who appreciate them so make saying “thank you” part of your culture and, where it warrants it, put it in writing.

Similarly, showing that you care is key, so get your corporate and social responsibility (CSR) strategy right. Show you care about others and give back to your local community and support charities, have clear environmental and sustainability strategies, and have good policies in place around employee wellbeing.

BALANCE AND WELLBEING

Our recent research found that providing flexible working arrangements would make a driving career a more attractive option, and 73% said they would like the option to work more flexibly.  Yet, only a third of drivers in our survey said that their companies support balance between personal life and work, and more than half said they had been stressed at work in the past 12 months.

Just 32% of drivers surveyed felt that their employer cares about their mental health and our survey showed that 4 in 10 drivers would not trust their manager if they spoke to them about a mental health concern. This highlights a growing need for the provision of mental health first aiders within the workplace. These individuals, who may be well placed as peers rather than managers, can be trained to help alleviate stress and anxiety and in turn increase positivity, confidence, and morale.

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

Our survey showed that drivers love their profession for many reasons, like meeting new people, independence, freedom and seeing the open road. Although driver engagement and morale are ongoing challenges, they also present a great opportunity to celebrate talented drivers and build a motivated workforce for the future.

To download the ‘Driving Engagement in Logistics whitepaper’, visit www.talentinlogistics.co.uk/download/whitepaper-driving-engagement-in-logistics

More information: www.talentinlogistics.co.uk 

HOW TO ACE YOUR NETWORKING IN A REMOTE-WORKING WORLD

Networking-Tips

In recent months, it’s been challenging to meet with current contacts, let alone to connect with new ones or network within your industry. But, even though most events have gone online and there are travel restrictions and social distancing to contend with, you can still network!

Want to know how? Read on for some top tips from Talent in Logistics and Samantha Leleu, General Manager at Pertemps Driving Division, sponsor of the virtual networking session at the upcoming Talent in Logistics Awards on 1st October.

1. BE PREPARED

Make the most of any networking opportunity by being prepared. Think about your ‘elevator pitch’ in advance. The right pitch will make you and the company you are representing stand out to your listener and be interesting, memorable and succinct. It’ll also mean you don’t feel put on the spot when asked the inevitable, ‘So what do you do?’

Also, do your research on who will be attending any meeting or event in question.

“Ask the event organisers for their list of attendees. Sometimes these will be provided, other times they won’t. But if you don’t ask, you won’t get,” says Samantha Leleu.

When doing your research, don’t just focus on which companies will be attending, think on more of a personal note. For example, do you have anything in common with the key people you’d like to meet, such as someone you’ve both worked with in the past?

It’s always best to show that you know your stuff and don’t feel as if you’re out of the loop, so read the company’s recent news, blogs and social media updates.

Even if you go to an in-person event or meeting, sharing business cards may not be a popular move at the moment, so why not connect on LinkedIn instead? A virtual business card that you can include if you’re emailing new contacts is helpful too.

2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF INDUSTRY WEBINARS

Throughout recent months, industry webinars have come into their own. Although time is at a premium, setting aside time for a webinar is largely achievable and enables you to keep up to date with your sector, and also to connect with like-minded individuals who are facing the same industry challenges as you.

“There are many born networkers in this world, but for some, live events and human conversations can be challenging,” says Ruth Edwards, Business Development Director for Talent in Logistics. “For some, webinars are an easier way to interact with key industry figures without instantly plunging yourself into the networking deep-end!”.

Ask questions to show other attendees that you’re present, and what issues matter to you, which helps to position yourself as a key figure within the sector. You could also consider sponsoring a webinar or hosting one of your own with a topic that appeals to those you’re trying to connect with.

3. THINK OF IT AS A DATE!

Dress to impress! You can’t make a first impression twice and if you dress too formal or too casual for the occasion, you’ll end up feeling uncomfortable. This is just as true if you’re on a webcam as if you’re at an event in person.

You might feel nervous if you haven’t previously attending many events but don’t forget to smile…not only will it make you look more approachable but people will see that you’re having a good time and be more likely to make conversation.

“Remember to be engaged,” says Ruth. “Even online you can keep eye contact and demonstrate active listening.”

“Be sure that you don’t dominate the conversation! A conversation is a two-way transaction so be sure to ask lots of questions to find out more about this person and their role,” says Samantha. “Not only will this result in a better conversation, it will be far more memorable for both parties involved.”

4. GET UNDER THE SAME ROOF AS THE EXPERTS

What better opportunity to network than when your peers and leading industry figures are together? Even though nowadays they will be more likely under the same ‘virtual roof’ rather than in a conference centre!

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses quickly adapted their business operations to include digital events as opposed to physical ones where social distancing proved to be challenging, if not impossible.

“Many events, including our Talent in Logistics Annual Conference, have gone online, but you still get the same chance to see what like-minded people are experiencing, overcoming or succeeding at,” says Ruth. “Hearing how industry experts approach business is always a hugely beneficial experience.”

5. FOLLOW UP PROACTIVELY

The networking event itself is important, but what you do within the following 24 hours is also key.

“Whilst things are fresh in your mind, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the business cards you picked up throughout the day. Make personal notes on them of conversations had or memorable quotes or events discussed to mention when you follow up”, says Samantha. “This will seem much more personal and can go a long way in the future. When doing follow-ups, never forget to thank the event organisers. It’s funny how far a thank you can go when it comes to future events.”

Apply the same practice with your virtual contacts – keep notes and reminders, and send a personalised follow up on email or social media.

6. ENJOY YOURSELF!

During challenging times, enjoyment can seem a lower priority. However, it’s as important as ever to reflect on industry successes and celebrate. That’s why at our upcoming online Talent in Logistics Awards event, Pertemps Driving Division is our partner for a virtual networking session.

Register for free to attend the Talent in Logistics Awards to benefit from a unique online networking opportunity, as well as a whole evening of interaction, positivity, recognition and celebration that honours those in our industry who have worked so hard of late to keep the country running.

The Talent in Logistics Awards are dedicated to recognising and rewarding the people that keep the logistics sector and country, moving every day throughout the whole supply chain, with categories highlighting not only stand-out individuals but the teams and organisations that have gone above and beyond to make real differences.

After the turbulence and challenges of recent months, let’s take the opportunity to celebrate our fantastic logistics sector together! For more information on attending the awards or sponsoring an awards category, visit www.talentinlogistics.co.uk,  call 01952 520216 or email info@talentinlogistics.co.uk.

HOW TO USE EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS TO ATTRACT YOUNG TALENT IN LOGISTICS

element digital

As a sector tackling a skills shortage and with tough times ahead for the economy, raising positive awareness of logistics industry careers with the next generation of talent is vitally important. But where should you start? And what are the benefits?

We spoke to Ian Nichol from Career Ready, Andy Page from Business on the Move, and Bethany Fovargue from NOVUS Trust for their advice and tips.

1. FIRST, BE CLEAR WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE

Be very clear from the outset about what you want to achieve from your partnership with education, whether that is a school, university, or college. You can only know if you’re successful if you are clear about what you want to achieve in the first place. Also be clear about what business commitment you have, in terms of staff time and any resources you might be able to offer before you even engage. Get any approval needed before you start the conversation.

2. DO YOUR RESEARCH

Research the education provider, just like you would a business client to check they’re the right partner for you. There are school websites, prospectuses, and curricula available, so look at them all first. All schools are also now legally required to publish their careers policy, so that will provide insight into how it approaches engagement with employers. Also, check out who’s on the governing body and has specific responsibility for employer engagement, because that might be a useful discussion point or entry point.

People in your own business may have already got contacts in the school or college, so check within your own staff team if anyone is already in contact with them, as they might be a useful source of information.

Plus, think about and understand some of the parameters that all schools have to work within. If you’re working with a school, do you know what exactly Ofsted is? And what the league tables are? Or if you want to work with a business school, expect that they want to 6 to 12 months ahead, especially in the current environment.

3. ENGAGE WITH THE RIGHT PERSON

To initially engage, try to make personal contact and avoid email. Start at the top if you can, as you’ve got to get CD leadership and senior management team behind what you want to do. Identify key personnel, such as someone in charge of work-related learning, or a key department for a particular subject or specialism.

Be prepared with reference material to back up what you are talking about, such as a website or testimonials, and be clear on the nature of the relationship you are looking for. Is it a long-term relationship? Or a one-off engagement? Be honest and upfront.

4. GET THE FIRST MEETING RIGHT!

It sounds obvious, but make sure you go into the right building, to the right site, especially schools that can have split site buildings! And make sure your car parking is arranged so you don’t lose planned meeting time.

In terms of the sort of key issues and questions that you’re likely to discuss, don’t assume that you’re the first employer offering to do this sort of thing. Find out what the school’s been doing in this area before as there is unlikely to be a blank canvas to start from.

Go in listening mode to find out exactly what the school might be looking for. If they’ve got no ideas, then you can suggest some but try to start from where they are at. If you’re going in with a specific programme or offer, then make sure that it is clear and that you’ve got evidence that it works. Make it clear what you’re going to get out of it – that’s nothing to be embarrassed about as the relationship should be on the basis of mutual benefit, for education and business.

Have a plan but be flexible. You may hit upon something in that meeting that you hadn’t anticipated but is a great opportunity so you can go away and consider how your business can meet that curriculum need.

5. UNDERSTAND THE BARRIERS

The language and the cultures are different between business and education so businesspeople need to appreciate this in any engagement with schools. Response times from schools may be longer than businesses normally expect as teachers have limited time available to reply to emails.  Likewise, universities will need time to talk to their teaching staff before any decisions are made. Also, in the current climate, employers will need to be patient. There is catching up to do so many programmes may not resume for some time and may not be able to be face to face.

For university engagement, one of the biggest challenges is that the academic calendar runs very closely to the logistics calendar. So, it may be the Christmas peak when an institution is requesting a guest lecturer. In that case, businesses do not have to send a very senior figure – it really doesn’t matter who speaks as long as they are passionate about the company and the sector. Many businesses send apprentices into schools to speak with great results.

6. GET HELP FROM THE EXPERTS

For businesses needing reassurance, there’s now an infrastructure in place via an organisation called the Careers and Enterprise Company, with more than 30 careers hubs in place in a range of local enterprise partnership areas. The hubs include schools, colleges, universities, and employers and each local enterprise partnership has an enterprise advisor, who’s there to advise employers and support them in engaging with schools. The local Chamber of Commerce may also have relationships in place.

There is a whole range of charities that engage with schools. Many charities have programmes that employers can tap into. Whether it’s delivering a talk for an hour, or something more involved, like mentoring, skills masterclasses, workplace visits, work placements or paid internships. These charities provide the infrastructure to ensure that businesses can engage successfully with schools and give employers the support for a successful outcome.

To make engagement with universities easier, there is usually an employability office in place to help employers get in front of young people and secure that talent. This can include jobs boards and graduate placement but generally offers a much more extensive service than this, enabling employers to choose how and when to engage with students.

7. TALK ABOUT WHAT REALLY MATTERS

Educational partnerships are a great opportunity to promote your company brand, but also a great opportunity to promote the logistics profession and that is very important.  Aim to show students a range of different opportunities depending on what they want to do after they leave school or college.

Avoid acronyms and jargon – these won’t mean anything to the young people you’re talking to. Keep it short and case study based is good for engagement. Share numbers where possible. What are your volumes? What are your turnovers? What inventory are you carrying? Young people are often awed by these statistics.

Always, give time for questions. Sometimes you’ll get good ones, sometimes you won’t. But it really helps to build that perception that we’re a profession that cares about young people’s development and that wants them to feel that we’re open, honest and they can interact with us. Allowing time for questions does that.

8. DEMONSTRATE DIVERSITY

As well as enabling your organisation’s young people to be ambassadors for your business, it’s really important to show diversity where possible and try to steer away from the stereotypes of a white, male dominated industry.

Videos are a great thing to share in activity with education institutions, but ensure they are fit for purpose for the audience. Try to show the realities of different roles within the industry, alongside its diverse workforce.

9. SHOWCASE YOUR INVOLVEMENT

If you have the opportunity to shout about what you’re doing, then do! From a PR perspective, these programmes help to showcase the global, fast-paced, well paid profession that logistics is, as well as what your organisation is achieving. This could be within community newsletters or newspapers, trade press, associations, or your own channels, such as your websites and social media.

When you go to a school, parents are always very interested and as a result, local press are often interested in the good news story about what you are doing too.

Doing this will take time and effort, but if you put processes in place to do regular updates, yearly or quarterly for instance, it will help promote what you are doing to young talent.

10. EXPERIENCE THE BENEFITS

Engaging with schools offers clear benefits in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility and giving back to the local community.  Staff from the business can also get involved, providing rewarding and enjoyable volunteering opportunities and great personal and professional development that boosts morale.

Partnering with educational institutions can also help to develop new talent pipelines for jobs and apprenticeships within your business and build your reputation as an employer of choice. It is a chance to inspire the next generation of talent – the group you’re talking to, and those who hear about it through ‘playground chat’, as well as to enrich the curriculum so that young people entering the world of work better understand it, and the skills they need to succeed.

It also benefits the educators. For instance, employer engagements can help schools to achieve the Gatsby benchmarks which define the best careers provision and advice and guidance that schools can give to the students. Two of these benchmarks relate to the world of work, specifically encounters with employers and employees, and the experiences of workplaces. So, organisations can really bring those two benchmarks to life by engaging with schools and colleges.

MORE RESOURCES

To learn more about how to get started with education partnerships and the benefits this can bring to your business, listen to our Talent in Logistics podcast here.

You can also download free resources educational resources and activities via our Learning Through Logistics zone. These have been collated by Talent in Logistics in collaboration with Business on the MoveCareer Ready Think Logistics, and NOVUS Trust. All of these resources are completely free and ideal for both parents and teachers to use to educate children and young people about the world of logistics, and why it’s so important.

DEEP RECESSION

Deep Recession

Coronavirus lockdown measures have pushed the country into its biggest economic decline since records began. ONS figures show that GDP fell by 20.4% in the second quarter. In comparison, the US experienced only a 10.6% fall over the same period, while during the worst period of the 2008 recession, GDP fell by less than 3%.

Monthly figures show that the easing of lockdown measures had caused the economy to recover somewhat in June, with a surprise 8.7% spurt in growth. Nevertheless, the government is predicting a far longer road to recovery, with Boris Johnson warning, ‘Some parts of the economy are undoubtedly showing great resilience but clearly there are going to be bumpy months ahead and a long, long way to go.’

Attempts to put a date on recovery vary. The Bank of England predicts that it will take until late 2021 for the economy to reach a pre-pandemic level of health. Other observers forecast an even longer slump.

In a July report aimed at assessing the impact of the recession on the logistics industry, the recruitment agency Driver Require predicted that the recession ‘will take the form of a quick decline, swiftly followed by a rapid partial recovery […] and then a prolonged “U-shaped” recession,’ which could take as long as 5 years to clear. Thus far, the prediction appears to be borne out by statistics.

In contrast to gloomy GDP figures, unemployment figures show little change, with the unemployment rate estimated at a stable 3.9% and the percentage of the UK population aged 16-64 in work until recently at the crest of a 20 year high. These appearances, however, are deceptive, with furlough artificially propping up the figures.

With furlough ending after October, unemployment may rise precipitously, with chancellor Rishi Sunak stating the government should not pretend that ‘absolutely everybody can and will be able to go back to the job they had.’

The news may be particularly bad for LGV drivers. Reviewing the effects of the 2008 Great Recession, Driver Require noted that LGV driver employment numbers ‘dropped by almost twice as much as general employment and took 1.5 times longer to recover’, adding, ‘we are likely to see a 10% drop in demand for LGV drivers through 2021, gradually improving over the following three years.’

Much like the UK economy, some sectors of the logistics industry are showing ‘great resilience’, fuelled by the increased demand from online shopping. Others, however, are suffering—particularly logistics businesses with strong ties to the ailing service sector; ‘up to half of the nation’s remaining truck fleet has stood idle during the peak of the crisis’, according to Driver Require.

With pubs and restaurants at risk of renewed closures, the storm looks set to continue. Nevertheless, Driver Require strike a note of cautious optimism in concluding their analysis. ‘We expect a levelling of the playing field over the next couple of years, which will provide the survivors, i.e. those with more robust, value-adding business models with greater agility and better cash management, with exciting openings for growth and profit generation.’

Sources

MAKING DISTANCE LEARNING A REALITY IN LOGISTICS

In part one of this blog, we shared a discussion with Simon Tindall, Head of New Business BDU, and Liz Hanway, Sector Lead for Transport and Logistics BDU, from the Open University about how learning and development has changed, in particular in relation to e-learning and distance learning, and what that could mean for logistics.

Here we share the next instalment, looking at topics how distance learning can support the future skills agenda, and what resources are available now to employers and employees in the logistics sector, including those on furlough or facing redundancy. Read on for more or listen to the original interview in our latest Talent in Logistics podcast.

BORIS JOHNSON RECENTLY DELIVERED A SPEECH AT DUDLEY COLLEGE, AND HE SAID ABOUT THE SKILLS AGENDA, ABOUT LEVELLING UP BRITAIN, AND THE INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE. HE TALKED SPECIFICALLY ABOUT APPRENTICESHIPS. DISTANCE LEARNING IS GOING TO FORM A BIG PART OF THAT SKILLS AGENDA GOING FORWARD. WHAT DO YOU THINK NEEDS TO BE DONE TO MAKE THIS A REALITY?

[Simon Tindall]: – Well, I think some of it is already a reality today. When the recession started, we began doing quite a lot of work with UK governments across the four nations to build awareness of what skills opportunities there already were. So, we were involved in a digital skills toolkit that the government launched a couple of months ago, which links to Open University courses.

One of the key things that people don’t always understand about the Open University is that we have a very strong social remit and subsequently, that manifests itself in a huge provision of free education. Through our Open Learn Portal, we have something like around 10,000 hours of free online content, which covers everything from basic Maths and English to softer skills.

The other key piece is what’s the next progression, and I think that comes back to tying skills availability and skills attainment to job opportunity. People want to undertake skills to get them to their next career goal, be that to get a job, to get a better job, to get promoted, etc. There is still work to be done to link skills provision towards job availability so that people can directly see that by undertaking a number of courses they get to the next stage of their career.

[Liz Hanway]: A lot of industries that I’m speaking to at the moment are having to make that awful decision of bringing people back from furlough and potentially having to make them redundant and they care about these people, but their hands are tied. How can they best support those people? Where can they signpost them to? Part of my role is helping them to do that. There are resources out there.

In terms of making distance learning a reality, there needs to be some key steering groups to actually make this signposting possible. We need employers to really push it as well.

IF I THINK ABOUT THE LOGISTICS SECTOR SPECIFICALLY, I THINK IT IS DEFINITELY ONE THAT NEEDS SOME GUIDANCE AND SOME TOOLS FOR PEOPLE, INCLUDING YOUNG PEOPLE. DO YOU AGREE?

[LH]: Definitely. The world is changing quite dramatically. And even in the world of logistics, we’re crying out for HGV drivers, but in 10 years’ time, are we going to have automated vehicles? Are we going to have drones dropping parcels for us? All of these are new challenges where you need forward thinking managers, but you also need to recognise that you need a workforce that isn’t necessarily progressing up a ladder but has very transferable skills, understands what those transferable skills are, and can move around the business.

What I am seeing is people sadly losing their jobs in the logistics area, and they may have been in that environment for their whole working lives.  So, I’m working very closely with, for example, a baggage handling company, and actually the employees probably have all the skills to help Royal Mail and get all our post delivered. So, it’s about working with employers to make those skills analysis, mapping them out and helping them put them back into employment where there is work.

YOU MENTIONED THE OU HAS GOT COURSES THAT PEOPLE CAN UTILIZE FOR FREE AND THAT CAN HELP THEM WITH THOSE TRANSFERABLE SKILLS, SOFT SKILLS ETC. CAN YOU TELL PEOPLE WHERE THEY CAN ACCESS SOME OF THAT INFORMATION, AND IF THERE’S ANY SPECIFIC RESOURCES THAT MIGHT HELP IF THEY WORKED IN THE LOGISTICS SECTOR?

The first place to go to is the Open Learn site, which has got all our free course material or Google “skills for work” or “skills for life”. Skills for work has anything from leadership or management to effective timekeeping. On skills for life, there’s a new one we’ve just done with Money Saving Expert. There might be people who are now faced with a situation where there may be on furlough only getting 80% of their salary and they need to know how to better budget for things. There are also some courses on bereavement as people have potentially been losing people during this. Then, the second thing to look at is “Open Learn DWP”.

And then I would say specifically to employers, as I’m hearing quite a lot that learning and development budgets are being cut, that it’s about working with what you might have. So obviously there is still the apprenticeship levy and many larger employers are saying they haven’t spent it yet. So just to remind people that small companies can still take advantage of this 90% of funding for potentially putting employees on a degree program or a lower level apprenticeship program.

From the OU, we can support on the leadership and management side of the apprenticeship, so you could even currently get an MBA qualification through an apprenticeship. The other big thing that a lot of logistics companies are looking at is the move to digital transformation. So, we do the digital apprenticeship as well. If it is lower levels that people are looking at, we will try and do a bit of a mapping with the employer and we’ve got several partners that we might be able to signpost employers on to.

There is a whole host in the free open learn site I mentioned earlier. So just to name a few courses that I think would be interesting.

  • Succeed in learning – looks at people and identifies the common skills that they’ve got and what skills they can transfer into their next job, or career role
  • Effective communication in the workplace – managers now, that are probably used to seeing their colleagues and/or team face to face, have now got rely on communication by phone, or by e-mail. So different ways of working.
  • Transport and sustainability – where leaders are maybe thinking about changes you might have to do in your operations, and how actually can we do this long-term. There is a similar one on supply chain sustainability too.
  • Managing virtual projects  If you think about what’s going on in, in transport, one of the many changes is how you actually manage projects. So, you might have projects that have started, and now you have large teams all over the place, you’ve got now manage these projects virtually.
  • How teams work – that looks at all the different behaviours, how do you motivate your team when you’re not seeing them? You’re not having necessarily having one to ones, you’re all in different places, you’re online and what things you need to be aware of.

If organisations do have some learning and development budget, I would encourage them to think about not necessarily signing people for full degrees, but maybe bite size courses – the Open University has short courses.

Or you can just take a module from that degree program. You can come to the university and study many different modules over a period of time (say, 15 years) and come out with what we call an open degree – it’s basically a bespoke degree to yourself.

We’ve got some really good courses at a postgraduate level if you’ve got senior leaders.

For more information on the Open University, visit www.open.ac.uk 

TALENT IN LOGISTICS PODCAST

For more insightful podcasts to help those in the logistics sector look after the wellbeing of their employees, as well as their business, be sure to check out all out latest podcasts – with two new ones added each month.