It is widely accepted that the logistics and supply chain industry is suffering from a growing skills shortage, which is only set to intensify over coming months as uncertainty over Brexit and the knock-on effects of leaving the EU – whatever the deal – draws closer. Most noticeably, organisations operating within the sector are finding it increasingly difficult to secure the required number of specialist drivers and warehouse operatives, whilst the industry’s ongoing focus on modernisation has also left IT experts in short demand. As a result, it is now more important than ever for these businesses to retain their top talent.
Many companies up and down the country are now realising the requirement to invest more substantially in employee engagement, the importance of connecting with their colleagues and creating valuable feedback channels. To entice the best staff, they now must ensure they can lead by example and provide a reason why employees want to come to work each day. There is significant focus on personal development programmes and providing teams with the freedom they need to flourish and grow within their roles.
However, logistics companies and home delivery partners prioritising employee engagement face the added challenge of operating a workforce that is widely spread across the country, as well as relying heavily on drivers and crews that spend the majority of time on the road. Therefore, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on initiatives that are designed to keep a widespread workforce feeling valued and motivated:
Technology: The ongoing development and increased accessibility of smart technology has revolutionised the way people connect with one another and organisations can also utilise these platforms to communicate more effectively with their employees. For example, our online portal and app called YourHUB is designed to improve employee engagement by providing colleagues with the latest company news and announcements, quick access to relevant forms and documentation, as well a range of benefits and unique discount vouchers that can be used at many leading retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues. We have made sure that it is available via the Internet or through a dedicated smartphone app. Our employees located away from our Wigan HQ, especially our drivers, have found it particularly valuable as a way of keeping up-to-date and having important resources to hand.
Roadshows: For those staff members based at a company’s HQ, interacting and liaising with the senior management team or board of directors may seem like second nature. However, it is not uncommon for those employees based in satellite locations, or in the field, to feel disconnected from the wider group. Roadshows are a fantastic way to promote a sense of team spirit and togetherness that drives engagement, and the more senior the visitor the better. Our colleagues thoroughly enjoy sharing their day-to-day experiences with senior leaders who are keen to develop their own understanding of the daily challenges faced at various locations. In addition, our CEO recently rolled up his sleeves and unloaded vehicles at a depot in Airdrie, whilst our commercial team has spent time on the warehouse floor in Enfield.
Rewards and Recognition: It is crucial for the central People Services team to liaise very closely with leaders across the network to ensure that all employees are incorporated within any reward and recognition programmes. A driver on the road or a warehouse operative in a small depot will feel more motivated and engaged if they are aware that their efforts will be recognised in line with those based at the headquarters. Various awards focusing on separate teams and locations are encouraged at ArrowXL, which culminates in a special awards ceremony that takes place during our annual conference.
Training: Personal development and training programmes are a core instrument for driving engagement across an entire workforce – including those on the road or at smaller locations. Our experience is that the more opportunities for training they receive the happier they will be, which also promotes loyalty. I recommend businesses invest in trainers who can deliver dedicated sessions at various locations, or ensure each employee is afforded plenty of time to visit a central location to partake in training. For instance, earlier this year we opened the ArrowXL Development Academy in Wigan, which includes classrooms and a purpose-built apartment for our delivery heroes to hone their installation skills. I’m pleased to say that by next spring, every ArrowXL colleague will have enjoyed training sessions on-site.
In conclusion, there is now a growing importance for organisations with widespread workforces to not rest on their laurels when it comes to ensuring the happiness of those colleagues based away from company HQ. Taking pro-active steps to boost employee engagement by enhancing communication, recognition and personal development will go a long to ensuring logistics and home delivery firms can protect themselves from the rising skills gap.
By Katherine Kerr, Head of Communication & Engagement at ArrowXL.