Transforming employee engagement within the highly dispersed logistics industry
In the dynamic and fast-paced world of logistics, managing employee engagement has never been more challenging. Maintaining positive employee relationships whilst navigating through challenges that the industry faces, such as reorientation post-pandemic, IR35 legislation and the impact of Brexit, is crucial for companies to succeed.
With high employee turnover adding another level of complexity to an industry already pushed to its limits, effective people strategies are vital to foster a supportive environment and engaged workforce by overcoming key challenges faced by the logistics and supply chain sector.
The nature of the industry means employees are on the road for long periods of time, face tight deadlines and high-pressure situations. Drivers that are spending extended time away from their families can experience isolation and calls to and from the office may be the only conversations they have for hours on end. This can contribute to increased stress levels among employees, especially with a predominately remote based workforce. The sector must recognise the importance of employee engagement and prioritise employee well-being, by implementing measures to manage workload, stress levels and offer reassurances to their employees.
We spoke with Richard Pridding, Founder and Managing Director of Wren Consultancy who specialises in the logistics sector. Richard brings a wealth of knowledge and over thirty years’ experience in the sector.
Richard comments how “effective communication is so important to build strong employee relationships and without effective communication, you find that either individuals or departments can go off on a tangent which they assume is correct. This can risk impacting their colleagues in a negative way”.
As a logistics leader, we asked Richard:
How can companies effectively navigate these unique challenges faced by employees in the logistics industry?
“The first thing leaders in our industry need to do is to engage their teams to better understand the challenges they are facing, as although there will be consistent challenges within the industry, every business is unique. Encouraging employee feedback and regularly engaging individuals at every level of the business is important to foster engagement and address the root cause of issues.
Effective communication is a vital component of this because it is so important in building strong employee relationships. Without effective communication, relationships can become strained which can risk productivity and an employee’s emotional commitment to the company”.
In an industry that relies heavily on two-way communication, getting communication right can be a challenge and sometimes results in interactions becoming quite transactional. To overcome this, logistics companies need to invest in robust communication channels that help build better interpersonal relationships, such as regular team engagement sessions, effective digital collaboration tools, and transparent internal communication platforms.
What can logistics leaders be doing to help support a predominately remote based workforce?
“Good practice is to implement software which can keep your workforce updated regularly and provide them with education on company policies and practises in real time.
It is equally important to create a positive culture within your workforce, fostering engagement and ensuring that welfare check-ins occur and are acted upon when necessary. Too often, drivers, especially long-distance drivers, face their daily challenges without immediate support. This lack of readily available assistance can amplify concerns and lead to an increased perception of issues due to the absence of a reassuring presence”.
Something I’m also passionate about is mental health awareness. It is a legal requirement to have first aiders in businesses, but currently, there is no mandatory provision for Mental Health First Aiders, as the Mental Health First Aid Bill has not yet been passed. Being a Mental Health First Aider myself, I would advocate that every business should be proactively rolling this out. This would be beneficial at department level to enhance the support system and ensure mental health support for remote workers”.
How do we improve employee retention?
With the national driver shortage and a highly competitive and fluid job market, retaining talented employees is a challenge when there is an abundance of available roles in the logistics industry. This goes above just salary and benefits – employee engagement that builds emotional loyalty is vital.
Richard explains, “Staff retention is and always has been a struggle as it’s a sector that has not traditionally prioritised employee engagement. To address this challenge, logistics companies should focus on creating people-first strategies that build a positive work environment that recognises and rewards employees’ achievements.
Supporting the workforce across the business impacts the entire HR function. By proactively seeking to implement the right employee engagement strategies and tools to support embedding them, this will ensure organisations are supporting their workforce and also reducing the risk of high job turnover rates.
How do we effectively address diversity and Inclusion?
As for every industry, promoting diversity and inclusion is crucial for building a strong and resilient workforce, but this is even more important in industries like logistics where they have been traditionally male dominated.
Richard comments, “Like every industry, logistics companies should actively seek to hire and retain employees from diverse backgrounds and provide equal opportunities for career advancement because this will help drive success.”
Establishing inclusive policies and fostering a culture of respect and acceptance can help overcome bias and create a harmonious work environment. Achieving this required focus and, as an industry, logistics need to work hard to overcome the barriers to attracting more women and a broader spectrum of talent. This is imperative in the current recruitment climate to widen the available pool of talent.
What does transformation of employee engagement look like in the logistics industry?
The logistics industry is a complex and demanding field that requires careful attention to employee relationships. By fully supporting employees in demanding work environments, you can address many challenges. By enhancing communication, prioritising talent retention and diversity and inclusion initiatives, logistics companies can build a stronger emotional commitment from their employees. The impact of a well engaged, motivated workforce will be increased productivity, and ultimately, success in the logistics industry.
From his vast experience within the industry, Richard advised that better technology, analytics and insight are invaluable in overcoming the challenges and transforming the industry.
Richard explains, “People data that delivers actionable insights is instrumental in transforming employee engagement and developing the strategies that promote positive engagement for staff, suppliers and clients, ultimately improving business success.”.
We couldn’t agree more with the points raised by Richard and are very grateful for him taking the time to speak with us.
It has never been more important for the logistics sector to invest the time and effort into implementing effective and engaging employee engagement strategies. However, a positive environment requires ongoing effort and continuous improvement. By addressing these challenges head-on, logistics companies can build a culture that attracts, retains, and nurtures talented employees, leading to long-term success in a competitive market.
Our empower® technology provides a simplified digital experience for managing people processes. Our innovative technologies provide HR, line managers and employees with easy access to the right employee relations tools, at the right time. Our solutions will enable your people managers to feel supported in taking the necessary action with confidence, while delivering efficiencies, reducing risk and capturing invaluable data insight.