Talent in Logistics delves into the future of our industry by imagining how present trends might reconfigure the workplace by 2030. Part 2 continues where we left off last week. Recap on part 1.
3. Employment Relationships
External drivers like Brexit, the economic environment, consumer demands and more recently COVID-19 have fundamentally shifted the idea of the ‘typical employment relationship’. The traditional career model could change in the future: it may be more likely people won’t have a
‘career for life’ like in the past, but that an individual’s working life will feature a range of cross-sector and cross-functional experiences, requiring the attendant skills.
This increased flexibility offers benefits for workers, and the potential to negotiate harder where their skills are in demand. But there are also potential costs; the gig economy and zero-hours contracts, both recent innovations, have come under stern criticism not only due to their poor security but also the perceived erosion of employee benefits and the mercurial nature of the gig market. Meanwhile, young people entering work may find it hard to gain the experience and skills needed to progress and access good quality jobs.
There may be some benefits to the logistics industry, nonetheless. With more workers than ever pushing for work from home, an evolution in motivation and engagement and health and wellbeing strategies may be coming. That can only be good news in an industry whose backbone—the drivers—have long been working remotely.
4. Demographics, Diversity and Inclusion
Life expectancy and retirement age continue to trend up, meaning we now have and will continue to have more generations in our workforce than ever before. Simultaneously, the younger generations joining the workforce are challenging the status quo, with a greater understanding of and insistence on workers’ rights and the flexibility and willingness to move elsewhere if their needs aren’t being met. How will we ensure that the invaluable skills held by our ageing workforce are passed onto younger workers? Will phased retirements and job-sharing become more standard and accepted?
The Millennial cohort and their Gen Z counterparts are rising to become both the dominant consumer bloc both externally and as ‘internal consumers’: employee stakeholders. Clare advises that these ‘consumers’ are increasingly political, with support for social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter significant, along with endemic environmental pessimism. Young people are less loyal to brands, more critical of corporate ethics, and are liable to think with their feet.
This is likely to force businesses to behave less as commercial entities and more as communities of shared interest. Traditional workplace policies and processes designed for treating people fairly by treating everybody the same might need to give way to more nuanced approaches. This would include recognising that absolute equality of treatment tends to accentuate existing inequalities rather than addressing them. Will D&I move away from outdated policies designed to safeguard ‘equality’ and toward the principle of supporting individual needs?
5. Responsible Business
The pressure for better people policies comes from outside, too. What evolved D&I practices are to employee morale, corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are to consumer goodwill. Additionally, there is a rise in demand for sustainable, ethical and responsible business practices coming from regulators and investors, as well as dire warnings from the science community regarding sustainability.
The common theme in many of the threads examined in this article is the need to reimagine work as a force for good. Shallow commitment to shareholder value is unlikely to make good financial sense in the coming years, even leaving the social ramifications alone. Commercial pressures must be balanced with the need for ethical practices, since the two are becoming increasingly synonymous.
The dangers of failing to heed the call to change may be stark: with the environmental doomsday clock ticking, the rise of cancel culture and the growing number of citizens and intellectual leaders questioning whether contemporary capitalism is capable of dealing with proliferating crises, the threat might not merely be financial ruin but seismic changes to our way of life. The future of the world of work may be unclear, but one thing is certain: in ten years’ time, things will be different. They will have to be.