When you were a kid did you ever dream of working in logistics? Doctor, vet, astronaut maybe – but it’s a rare beast that wakes up and says I want to join the Logistics, transport, haulage – whatever you want to call it – industry. And it is a problem.
It’s a problem because the industry is facing a 60 000 driver shortage and recruiting into roles such as warehousing and fulfilment in places where there is zero unemployment is hard. And it’s not an industry that is attracting the brightest and best. And it should. Why? Because its huge, exciting, fast paced and if you work for the right kind of logistics business then it can be very rewarding – financially as well as motivationally – and very, very exciting.
With recruitment being such an issue in the industry what can be done?
CEO of diamond logistics, Kate Lester, says there’s a few major changes that can be made to improve retention and increase recruitment into the industry.
The key to engaging people in our business is to focus them all on our higher purpose and values’, says Kate. ‘This isn’t some management speak tokenism – this is the core beliefs that define what we do every day. It elevates what we do from mere delivery to understanding they key building block we are in building other businesses – those of our network partners and our end users. Our core value – Shared Success – and purpose – building businesses are absolutely key to defining every core business action’.
‘The second step is to look at innovation’, Kate says. ‘If your business still thinks its just a warehouse delivering stuff then that’s going to be about as interesting to new recruits as any old transport company. We have certainly seen a changing calibre of candidate as people come to understand the tech platform that underpins our business, as well as the diversity of our service range which means our clients are diverse and interesting.’
‘The third is to be proactive in tackling diversity. I am some what ashamed to say that before we focused on this – and we have been a female led business for 28 years – we were as shocking as any other business in the logistics sector at our team diversity. We simply shifted our focus, and really looked at what we could do to ensure the facilities, flexibility and support a diverse team needed – and within a very short time frame we had a far more diverse (award winningly so) workforce – which naturally increases retention and eases recruitment’.
‘What ‘facilities, flexibility and support’ practically means is enabling people to have all they need to succeed in a role. So if that a 4 day week to fit with their lives then consider if this is commercially viable and do it. And facilities too – good, safe rest and bathroom facilities seems a no brainer but if I tell you that is a challenge for our drivers out on the road and puts people off after a short time as a driver then it was important for us to tackle this. UK wide this is a problem that really does need addressing – if we want stuff delivered we have to enable the people delivering.
She continues, ‘I’d say societally we have to have far greater empathy for our core delivery force – the ambassadors out on the road. It’s a tough job – and a little appreciation, understanding and respect goes a long way. I guess as I started as a van driver and motorcycle courier I am well positioned to understand what a difficult job it can be – and it gets harder the bigger the vehicle. The first thing I did when I worked at a large hauliers was to turn the organisational pyramid upside down to put drivers at the forefront of the business. In doing that the whole business was transformed and driver retention massively increased. But that took a real cultural shift away from us and them (management and drivers) to a team ethos. So this is key too’.
‘Finally you have to offer progression and a structured career path for those who want it, and security and reliability for those who want to stay where they are. Its not one stop fits all – you have to tailor opportunity to the individual but super stars that we all need will tend to want to see some kind of onwards progression and reward. So all transport businesses need to look at the future of their business and share future opportunity with the team who will help them get there’.
She went on to say welcoming international diversity is a continuing need in the industry. ‘Brexit has eliminated a substantial pool of very able and determined candidates – so we have to reopen our countries doors for the great resources that Europe affords us. Hopefully Boris will acknowledge the dire need in our industry and address this as part of an immigration policy that supports our business growth plans for 2020 and beyond’.
The result is ultimately one which will reassure the boards of transport businesses around the UK of the value of taking such action. ‘Our motivation was not just altruistic – it was commercial. We need talent to grow. These policies give us access to this. Its an essential part of our strategic planning and probably – twinned with our investment in technology - one of the most important issues that faces our business today’ Kate concludes.
The message from diamond is powerful – innovate and diversify to recruit. And as their network has increase by 100% in the last 12 months there’s palpable evidence it works.
If you’re interested in working with diamond get in touch : firstname.lastname@example.org