Logistics workers are the hardworking champions that have continuously kept on going through the pandemic to make everyone’s lockdown experience as smooth as possible. In our latest report, the State of the Deskless Workforce, we polled 1,200 deskless workers across the UK to get insights about their work, wellbeing, wants, and needs, both pre- and during the pandemic. For the logistics sector, this is what we found.
Time to jump ship?
In the matter of career progression, before the pandemic, 65% of the logistics workers said they were planning to stay in their current job long-term. Great news for many employers, one may think, but don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Why? First of all, during the pandemic, this number decreased to 54%. Secondly, while we see that there’s a plan to stay in their job, we also see that before the pandemic, 32% (23% during the pandemic) of the logistics workers said they don’t think their employer values the work they do. The reason? 54% think their employer sees them as a disposal or temporary resource. A number that reached 60% during the pandemic.
Automation - the big opportunity that arises from uncertainty
We know that automation is being integrated into every industry and the inescapable reality is that automation and AI are here to stay. When asked about the impact of automation, 31% of the UK logistics workers said that they’re concerned that automation will impact their employability in the future. A worry, for sure, but what’s more worrying is that only 20% of the logistics workers say they think their employer was helping them prepare for or adjust to greater automation in the workplace.
The logistical advantages of flexibility
Flexibility is one of the most important factors for supply chains because of the ever changing and unpredictable nature of today's consumers’ behaviour. With that said, if you work within logistics, you certainly know how to implement flexibility in your everyday work. But how do the logistics workers feel about the flexibility they’re offered in the workplace? Here are some of our findings:.
- 29% would pick a more flexible schedule over a higher salary.
- One in four said they have left a job because of inflexible schedules.
- 40% are unable to swap a shift on their own due to employer or system restrictions.
- 44% feel asking to change a shift for personal reasons would be perceived negatively by their employer.
It doesn’t stop there. When being asked about inflexible schedules, the logistics workers told us that their inflexible schedules had a major impact on their personal lives:
- 38% said that they had missed major family/friend milestones.
- 60% said they had missed out on social events or holiday celebrations.
- 52% reported that they had missed out on personal time (working out, mental health, activities, relaxing).
Easy and transparent communication between employers and employees are key to a healthy work environment. Worryingly, only 38% of logistics workers polled said they would be comfortable talking to their employer about their working conditions’ impact on their physical and mental health. Less than a third of workers said they would feel comfortable talking to their employer about scheduling issues related to their personal life.
Logistics workers are also expected to be available at all times: 80% say they’re contacted by their employer outside of working hours. How are they contacted? While 58% reported that they’re contacted by their employer via text, instant message or a phone call, only 6% reported that they’re contacted via the company’s mobile application or a proper scheduling tool.
Ensuring the happiness of your logistics employees in 2020 and beyond
It’s clear that UK logistics workers are experiencing some issues that shouldn’t be overlooked in the workplace. Issues that, if addressed, could help you keep your logistics workers happy, engaged and productive. Here are some recommendations on how to address them:
- Open up the floor for effective communication. With many workers wanting to stay in their role but at the same time not feeling comfortable talking about their wants and needs, you need to give your staff a platform for communication. For example, anonymous surveys or engagement polls could help employees find their voice and connect with you.
- Show them how much they mean to you. With a great number of workers not feeling valued, it is crucial to communicate efficiently, enhance employee recognition and rewards, monitor stress levels, and generally engage your workforce.
- Address their worries. Many believe that automation plays a starring role in a post-pandemic world that normalises social distancing. If your workers are worried about their employability in relation to automation, you must open the floor for discussion.
- Offer the workers the flexibility they crave. How? Take the flexibility factor into consideration as much as you can. Which tools are you offering your workforce? How can you introduce more flexibility on rotas? Can they swap their own shifts? Could they get their schedules with more notice? These are just some of the questions you can ask when reviewing your processes.
- Embrace workforce technology. As a logistics business, technology plays a major role in your operations. But how do you use technology for your employees? With the right tech solution, you can offer your workforce more flexibility for their scheduling, set up efficient communication channels, and easily engage with them, while limiting the admin time spent on forecasting, rostering, payroll, and more.
At the end of the day, your employees are your most valuable assets, so making sure their worries, wants and needs are addressed will work wonders to your business.
*Research conducted by Censuswide in two stages: between 11.03.2020-23.03.2020 with 1,200 deskless workers who work an hourly schedule in the following sectors: retail, hospitality and tourism, shipping/distribution, healthcare and social assistance, transportation and warehousing. Between 22.04.2020-04.05.2020 with 1,205 deskless UK workers in the same sectors. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.