Embracing Flexible Working

This article first appeared in SHD Logistics‘ April edition. 

While flexible working is becoming more and more recognised for its ability to help workers perform better and increase in confidence and morale, it is still highly uncommon across the logistics industry. However, with the perceived driver shortage, a focus on recruiting minority groups and an increase in new technology, there might just be an opportunity to change this.

Statistics provided by Timewise (2017) show how much UK workers want the option of flexible arrangements. 84% of male full-time workers and 91% of female full-time workers either currently work flexibly, or want to. Amongst these full-time workers, flexibility is either used or wanted by 92% of 18-34 year olds, 88% of 35-54 year olds and 72% of those aged 55+.

Looking more closely at the logistics industry, a recent article by the CILT (2018) revealed the impact flexible working could have on businesses. It stated that by 2023, the logistics sector could risk £516 million a year in economic output, if employers do not fully embrace flexibility. In light of this, UK businesses could generate an output of £22.947 billion per year through flexible working.

The main questions then become, can flexible working arrangements benefit both employers and employees, what barriers are stopping this, and how can we successfully implement this?

What are the benefits?

For employees, the benefits of flexible working are mostly focused on improving their work-life balance, and in turn looking after their health and wellbeing. Flexible working also reduces commute times and allows more time for leisure and study, which is most important among 18-34 year olds (37%) and also among those aged 55+ (32%).

Having flexible arrangements plays a major role in impacting positivity and productivity. Implementing flexible working practices such as working from home can improve staff engagement and motivation. We are living in a time where many roles do not require employees to be physically in the office every day to do their job, thanks to technology, and so when working schedules are tailored for employees, they are happier and more motivated as a result.

Practices such as hot desking, which is quite common with millennials, is something the logistics industry could tap into, as it allows workers to build bonds across the wider business, giving them the chance to better understand other areas of the business. By communicating better with more teams and departments, collaborating on future projects becomes much easier, allowing them to be more productive in their role.

It’s not only employees who benefit from flexible working, companies or organisations benefit too. In addition to increasing productivity, it can help reduce truancy and strengthen employee loyalty. On the HR side of the business, offering flexible working to returning workers such as parents coming back from maternity or paternity leave, or those coming back from a long-term break, can help attract and retain the experienced and skilled staff already there.

What are the barriers?

The lack of flexible working opportunities is often referred to as one reason behind women’s diminishing presence in senior jobs, let alone in logistics. The closer the corporate ladder gets to senior management roles, the more women fall off it. The lack of flexible working options, along with childcare costs, often prevent mothers from returning to work. This industry is known for its long hours, especially for drivers. Add working mums’ requests to work remotely and part-time to the mix, and you get gender imbalance as these requests are often denied more times than not, making it difficult to ensure more women advance in the industry.

As much as barriers are mostly seen in relation to working mums, working dads also face the same barriers. Enabling working parents and anyone else who has dependents to work flexibly is crucial to greater workplace equality and diversity. Essentially, a business wants to employ the best people, so working around their needs will likely offer more benefits.

Moving forward

Companies need to get ahead of traditional barriers, for example, the driver role is usually seen as one of the most inflexible role due to the long hours attached. With driver turnover being particularly high, offering shorter and more regular shifts could have a real impact on how the role is viewed. A culture change is highly needed, and logistics managers will reap rewards by being innovative and working on practical solutions, sooner rather than later.

Based on the economic output estimated to be lost due to lack of flexible working, the logistics industry should use research, insights and other sectors’ success stories to transform itself. This involves answering a number of questions: do we need office space, every day, for every employee? Could workers job share and be given more options to work shorter shifts when possible? Do we have the technology to enable employees to work flexibly? Once we’ve answered these, we need to create a plan to outline changes within the industry which accommodate flexible working and implement it. After all, companies’ fortunes are based on their ability to attract, engage and retain the best and talented employees. Offering more flexibility will help.

 

The Opportunities Within Apprenticeships

Following the recent National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), we explore what kind of supply chain and logistics apprenticeships are available, how they have impacted the next generation of professionals and how the sector has successfully implemented them into their employment strategies.

Attracting new talent is a real focus for the sector and with a mix of career opportunities available, apprenticeships are one of the best educational paths to introduce millennials and Generation Z to the world of logistics.

Most apprenticeships now offer qualifications from Intermediate (Level 2) to Degree (Level 7), plus offer training (both on-and off-the job), a competitive salary and the opportunity to really start climbing the career ladder.

Apprenticeships are a good way of offering that first step onto the career ladder in a way that gives candidates a view across an entire business, allowing them identify a specialism that best suits their interests and skill set.

If you’re not convinced logistics is a sector you want to work in? Hear from Royal Mail and Aldi apprentices, among others, to find out how they benefited from the schemes available and how they are continuing to pursue careers in the field.

Entry level apprenticeships

There is a large number of entry level apprenticeships available across the logistics sector, offering roles from little or no experience and providing training for qualifications and a professional career.

Freight Forwarding Apprentices interviewed by BIFA described their apprenticeship experiences:

  • ‘A way to learn the entire industry’
  • ‘No end to the opportunities presented’
  • ‘A mix of challenges and opportunities’
  • ‘While freight forwarding isn’t something people tend to think of as a career, once you are involved, it’s actually really exciting and different to most jobs.’

Here are some of the entry level apprenticeships available across the sector:

The GTG Warehousing and Storage Apprenticeship

  • Leads to a Level 2 qualification in warehousing and storage
  • Is usually completed in 12 months
  • Covers areas including:
  • Developing effective working relationships with colleagues and logistics operators
  • Operating equipment to perform work requirements
  • Maintaining health, safety and security in logistics operations
  • Placing goods in storage
  • Forklift training on completion of the course
  • The core skills needed include; communication, problem solving and working with others

The Aldi Driving Apprenticeship

  • Leads to acquisition of Cat C+E Licences
  • Includes mentorship throughout
  • Covers all areas of driving LGV vehicles, starting with little or no experience other than a standard UK drivers licence
  • Overall knowledge of the operation – including time in the transport yard and warehouse, making sure you understand the whole process

One of the great things regularly offered by organisations for younger apprentices is a ‘buddy’, often a former apprentice or young person who has been identified as a future leader. While the line manager continues to set the standards and expectations and support in their daily work, the buddy system is there to assist more in a pastoral format. They are there to offer any advice about settling in, or to listen if an apprentice wanted to open up about any issues.

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree Apprenticeships often combine a full-time job role, alongside a number of modules and placements in order to provide a high level of practical training leading to a permanent role, as well as the theoretical support that leads to an academic degree.

The Royal Mail Logistics Management Apprenticeship

  • Offers a number of placements including distribution, processing and air
  • Allows you to manage a team from 25-40 people from day one
  • Provides knowledge from experienced mentors
  • Leads to a Level 6 Apprenticeship, leading to a BSc (Hons) Professional Practice in Supply Chain Leadership.

Royal Mail apprentices say: “The best thing about being an apprentice with the Royal Mail is the responsibility you’re given and how seriously the company takes you. You are thrown day one, into a real time job, with real responsibility.”

“I can go out and achieve what I want to achieve, especially within management.”

Morrisons Logistics Degree Apprenticeship

  • A three year programme providing hands-on experience of Morrisons’ fast-moving logistics operations
  • Be part of the teams moving millions of products from distribution centres to stores
  • Work across a range of logistics teams to fully understand the business, leading to a Team Manager position and later a Shift Manager position
  • Understand logistics systems, processes and technologies
  • Gain a Bsc (Hons) Management and Business degree

Morrisons apprentices say: “I’m really enjoying what I’m doing and want to stay at Morrisons. I’m now a team manager, proud to lead my own team of 21 people. Thanks to all the support, I’ve found balancing my work and studies really manageable.”

Masters using the Apprenticeship Levy

While there is often an assumption that apprenticeships are used as a way of taking the first steps into a career, there is also options to use this format to develop skills and progress your career, in the form of post-graduate learning.

This level of education is an incredibly positive step forward in developing the career trajectory of colleagues within the logistics sector.

Cranfield University Master Degrees

  • Two year postgraduate degree
  • Enhances knowledge and capability to manage and plan supply chains
  • Raises awareness and appreciation of advanced logistics
  • Teaches how to lead effectively
  • Develops the ability to critically select tools and techniques needed to overcome obstacles and challenges
  • Results in a Logistics and Supply Chain Management MSc (Executive) degree

Masters degrees allow employees to develop not only themselves but also add value to their business. To make these programmes even more accessible to businesses and their employees, there are now some Masters level courses that are covered by the apprenticeship levy. Eligible organisations have the opportunity to use up to £18,000 of their Apprenticeship Levy to cover the cost of the course tuition fees.

Apprenticeships offer a number of benefits for both employers and employees and nowadays are so varied, that they cover almost all abilities, experience levels and aspirations to allow you to achieve your goals in a fast-paced and developing career.

What To Expect When Employing Generation Z Workers

This article was first published on Executive Grapevine, with the permission to feature on Talent in Logistics site. 

Whilst the media furore around the social and economic habits of the Millennial generation rages on, a new generation of workers have quietly penetrated the workplace. This cohort is known as Generation Z.

According to ZeroCater, the demographic that spans from 1997 to the early 2010s make up an average of 25% of the western population and may well have a drastically different outlook on the workplace.

Gen Z’s professional outlook is reported to be far more pragmatic than their predecessors; this is due to their upbringing throughout an economic recession. Whilst Millennials are known for spending lavishly on experiences, Gen Z are far more concerned about financial stability and saving their cash.

Whilst the Millennial generation grew up with the early development of smart mobile technology and the social media boom, Gen Z was equipped from a young age to interact with cutting-edge technology from both a recreational and educational perspective.

A massive 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone, whilst 92% have a significant digital footprint and 50% claim to spend up to ten hours a day connected to the internet.

Work habits 

Technology has revolutionised the professional world and whilst the relevance of corporate communication services such as Slack are growing exponentially, coming of age as digital natives have prompted a key preferential shift amongst Generation Z to physical interactions.

72% of polled individuals claimed to prefer a face-to-face meetings over a digital conversation and whilst start-up culture booms in other generations, 80% of Gen Z want to work for a mid-to-large sized company.

In terms of key values, Generation Z is massively invested in race and gender equality. 72% agree that racial equality is the most important issue they face today, whilst 36% state that they expect their employer to consider equality as the most crucial concern in the workplace.

Career expectations

Financial stability and the ability to work in their dream sector are the two greatest aspirations that Gen Z holds, and it’s willing to work hard to get them; 75% expect to work in multiple roles within an organisation, whilst 77% expect to work harder than previous generations.

The two key workplace expectations of Gen Z are an empowering working culture and the potential for clear paths to career growth. Despite their technological fluency, Generation Z claims that the two most important skills that it can bring to the workplace are communication and problem solving.

As the number of Gen Z’s in the professional field grows, the demographic’s influence and impact on the workplace grows with it; will the generation be a revolutionary step forward for the UK’s industries? Only time will tell.

Boosting Your Career With A Mentor

Within a profession with high employee turnover and a shortage of incoming talent, career development is more vital than ever. Mentoring is becoming more and more recognised for its ability to help mentees perform better and increase confidence and morale.

To get the next generation of rising stars onto the career ladder, we have teamed up with NOVUS and Career Ready to share their mentors’ and mentees’ stories on the benefits of a mentoring initiative, how they can assist with professional development and the schemes they have used.

NOVUS

Part of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT UK) and working with leading universities to provide students studying logistics and supply chain degrees, NOVUS’ mentoring initiative supports members in their CPD activities, pushes career development and helps to achieve business goals.

One mentor who is devoted to sharing his skills and expertise is Mark Douglas, Network Continuous Improvement Manager at Wincanton. With strong links with NOVUS, he sees the value of encouraging the next generation of experts into the profession through placements, graduate positions and mentoring. Through his experience, he believes mentors should help those who are just about to embark on their journey, whether as a sounding board for ideas and concerns, to offer advice or just to be there for a general chat. Mark’s current protégé, Tony Wong, student at Aston University, believes that having a mentor can help you learn something you won’t learn in a lecture, or by reading books. He says mentors have real world experience in their field and know exactly what’s going on in the sector. Tony believes that it is always good to know someone working in the profession and is looking forward to putting all the insights and experiences learnt into his career.

Another NOVUS mentor who is passionate about bringing talent into logistics is Sally Hill, Head of Operations at JCB World Logistics at DHL. It became clear to Sally that having someone who could give you impartial advice, help you work through challenges and give you the confidence to achieve your goals was a fantastic gift. The scheme has definitely challenged her, but it has also made her think differently and she believes it’s a great way to stay in touch with developments within the sector. Also a student at Aston University, Jo Varin came into the mentorship with the hope of gaining an expert on speed-dial. As a woman entering the profession, she has found it inspiring to have been given a female mentor that has the levels of experience that Sally has. Jo has been guided through her studies and achieved the networking and professional experience required to achieve her career goals.

Bethany Fovargue, Operations Manager at NOVUS says:” Mentoring is a relationship that maximises potential and improves performance, providing a safe space for development into the best supply chain professional that you can be. Mentoring can play a pivotal role in helping achieve goals, which is why NOVUS is proud to be able to support our students with mentoring.

“The mentoring relationship will look different to each mentoring pair, so we encourage our pairs to take time to speak or meet, remembering that email, Skype or text might also feature in their relationship. Understanding what they would like to achieve from the relationship, as well as what they expect of each other as mentor and mentee, is pivotal, and NOVUS provides mentoring training to help mentors shape this conversation.”

To find out more about the NOVUS mentoring scheme, please contact 01536 740108 or novus@ciltuk.org.uk.

Career Ready

To prepare young people for the world of work, Career Ready’s Plus programme works with schools and colleges to help the next generation of professionals kick-start a successful future with one-to-one mentoring schemes helping to develop skills, confidence and experience.

Emily Clark went from internship to degree apprenticeship at PD Ports after gaining the right skills, confidence and experience from supervisor Lee Dolan, Engineering Manager at PD Ports. Lee is a believer of giving young people quality work experience opportunities and has found the experience incredibly rewarding. Supervising Emily has given Lee the opportunity to develop his own skill-set and mentoring skills, as well as getting more experience of supporting a young, new-starter to the organisation. Emily was extremely enthusiastic about a career in engineering, so being able to play a part in getting her one step closer to her dream career is a great feeling for Lee.

Emily added: “Getting involved with the Career Ready programme is something which I’d recommend to any student who’s starting to think about what they want to do in the future. Just remember to be confident and engage with the people you work with – it can only help you in the future.”

Christopher George, a Motor Injury Claims Handler for Aviva, supported Erik Petnehazi as a Career Ready mentor and helped him secure an internship at the same company. Christopher says that mentoring a young person is such a rewarding experience. As a mentor, Christopher helped Erik grow his confidence by having monthly chats about his interests and future. By doing this he watched him grow in terms of his keenness and his eloquence. By the time Erik came to work at Aviva, Christopher felt Erik had worked hard to give himself the best start possible which was demonstrated by the great reputation he built. Watching a shy young person grow so much in confidence that he completed four weeks work at a major organisation, passed his exams and won a place at college, has been really rewarding for Christopher.

Erik added: “Honestly, getting involved with the Career Ready programme is one of the best things that has happened in my life, and I’d recommend it to any other student. Learning from my mentor – who is more like a friend who you can count on – and my internship at Aviva have both been great experiences which have really helped me become career ready.”

Ian Nichol, Head of Logistics at Career Ready says: “Career Ready mentors can transform lives, providing their mentee with the skills, confidence, and attitude to reach their potential and kickstart a rewarding future. In 2018 we supported 4,000+ young people on our mentoring programme.

Mentors themselves get a great deal from their experience as well, which can be beneficial to their businesses.”

To find out more about Career Ready’s mentoring schemes, please contact 020 7986 5494 or info@careerready.org.uk.

Mentoring can have a really positive impact on your individual employees, and the business as a whole and can play an important role in continuing talent development throughout the industry. If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of mentoring please contact Talent in Logistics on 01952 520216 or talentinlogistics@capitb.co.uk.

Creating A Culture Of Wellbeing

This article first appeared in SHD Logistics‘ February edition. 

There is growing recognition of the importance of individual wellbeing inside and outside of the working environment. The subject of wellbeing has many broad implications for the quality of each individual’s life – how we choose to live and potentially how long we live.

Wellbeing and stress management issues are within the overall ‘duty of care’ that an employer owes to its employees. Provision of wellbeing services is crucial for employee engagement and creating a positive working culture.

Now more than ever before, employees are looking to their employer to help them access the services they need to stay fit and healthy, whether that be through flexible working, health care or physical activities.

With the transport, logistics and warehousing sector employing over 2.2 million people in the UK, it is vital that as an industry we are actively managing our workers wellbeing. Whether you are forklift operator, HR manager or CEO, your health and wellbeing matters and it’s important for each individual to feel happy, healthy and committed in their workplace.

Statistics from the Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA) 2018 Employee Wellbeing research study show that organisations are continuing to recognise that a strategic and properly measured wellbeing programme can make a powerful impact. But unfortunately, research from Westfield Health states that 52% of workers in the logistics industry believe organisations aren’t doing enough to support employee wellbeing. They also found that 68% of workers would use wellbeing services if their employer provided them. With 53% suggesting health check-ups, 53% back care and posture and 41% gym access.

There is no doubt that many logistics companies have practices in place, but as an industry it’s time we encourage others to recognise this and start putting plans into place.

Getting management on board

Employees take cues from how senior leaders behave, especially if they speak out about wellbeing, as it can have a huge impact. Team leaders, managers and directors can show commitment to staff wellbeing by taking a few simple actions: support a campaign to encourage physical activity; implement regular health checks; take full lunch breaks and commit to realistic working hours.

Raise awareness

Too often, employees feel afraid to speak to their colleagues or line manager. To raise awareness employers should be working to promote discussion of health and wellbeing to proactively challenge this harmful culture. One way to implement this could be inviting a guest speaker to discuss the challenges and outcomes of problems in the workplace. Hearing what it is like to have a problem from people who have experienced the issues first hand can help break down negative stereotypes.

Communication is key

Employee communication can be often overlooked. Those at a management level should regularly be engaging with their staff – and not just over email. One measure that could be put into place is email-free days. If you or your employees feel overwhelmed by email, it might be possible to propose a company-wide ban one day a month. This way your team can focus on communicating face-to-face, having one-on-ones with managers and team coaching.

In a time where we are experiencing worker shortages it’s important that our employees feel valued and appreciated for their hard work. Giving them a say or a difference in working, will improve morale and performance.

Encourage work life balance

We all face busy periods, especially around festive seasons, whether that be working to tough deadlines, pulling long hours or managing your time. Building resilience can help you to adapt to challenging circumstances. It’s important that we support our staff to make time for their home lives and interests outside of work by encouraging them to leave at sensible times, take short breaks and take annual leave.

Appreciate your workers

Reward your staff for their hard work where possible. Recognition incentives could include actions such as employee benefit schemes, bonuses, or even a bowl full of fruit and treats in the staff room. As Richard Branson has been known to say, “if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.”

As an industry, it is time to realise that healthy, happy workers lead to a healthy, happy organisation.

If you would like any further information on creating a culture of wellbeing, please contact us on talentinlogistics@capitb.co.uk. Alternatively, to start putting this into practice, contact wellbeing services such as MIND and Stress Management Society.