Contrary to the high unemployment reported in other industries since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, competition for logistics workforce talent is more heated than ever. In this article, we’ll examine the current logistics labor landscape and provide tips on how to attract and retain the talent you need to keep your operation moving forward.
Current state of the logistics workforce
Why are warehouse associates so hard to come by? For starters, there are currently fewer of them in the market. The pandemic has kept good associates out of the warehouse due to fear of catching the virus and due to childcare responsibilities that are incompatible with full-time hours. In some cases, state and federal unemployment benefits provide disincentives to return to work.
As for drivers, the trucking industry has been experiencing a driver shortage for years as more drivers are leaving the profession than there are new drivers replacing them. Now that manufacturing has accelerated – and continues to accelerate – after the initial COVID-19 slowdown, the demand for drivers continues to substantially outpace their availability.
How to attract logistics workforce talent
For both warehouse associates and drivers, landing a new hire often largely comes down to money. Companies are offering higher wages, sign-on bonuses, and better benefits packages to get new employees on board. You’ll need to ensure that your offerings are in line with the market.
Importantly, attracting new talent with higher wages typically means that you will need to assure that the wages of your existing employees are keeping up with the market in order to keep them happy as well. Few things will make an employee more disgruntled than a new person being paid more to do the same work.
In addition to financials, safety is on the top of the minds of prospective employees. A company needs to demonstrate that its working environment is safe and that the company is committed to keeping it that way.
On the driver side, drivers are attracted to positions in which they are out and back every night.
How to retain logistics workforce talent
Much like customers, logistics talent is both hard to come by and painful to lose. Because of this, companies should work hard to keep the high-performing employees they currently have. This applies to managers and hourly workers.
Today’s young worker especially expects a positive daily work experience. Clean production areas, good quality operating equipment, well-appointed breakrooms, performance incentives, and employee appreciation events all go a long way to building a great place to work.
Employees want to be well-compensated, of course, but they also want to feel that their work is valued and that there is a future for them within the company. Companies would do well to be proactive in this regard. Some ways to do this include:
- Involve employees in decisions that affect them. For example, if your company is creating new safety protocols, let employees have a say. This encourages engagement and a sense that everyone is on the same team.
- Create professional development plans for high performers. Such plans show employees that the company sees them as part of its future, which – in turn – can increase loyalty to the company and foster a sense of belonging.
- Check in with employees. Don’t wait until an employee walks out the door to find out that he or she is unhappy. Check in with employees regularly to identify issues before they become problems.
Entrust logistics workforce management to a 3PL
Attracting and retaining employees in this environment can be a full-time job. If, like many companies, you decide that your time and resources are better spent elsewhere, you can partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to handle your logistics operations – and the associated labor management.
In addition to being able to focus on what your company does best, a 3PL partnership offers the following labor-related benefits.
3PLs can adjust staffing to meet seasonal demands. Your business likely has low- and high-volume periods. If you’re managing your logistics workforce yourself, you may find yourself bringing on new talent when it’s busy and letting talent go when it’s slow. This can be a costly mistake as there is no guarantee that the well-trained person who just left will be replaced with someone just as good.
When you work with a 3PL, on the other hand, that 3PL will have multiple customers. By cross training its warehouse associates, it can allocate workers across multiple customers so that they are always busy. 3PLs can thus retain their high-performing workers and maintain a high level of service regardless of volume fluctuations.
3PLs have close relationships with temp agencies. When the need for additional labor arises, 3PLs are able to lean on temporary labor agency partners to fill in the gaps. As most 3PLs work frequently – and in high volumes – with these agencies, they can receive preferential treatment when it comes to hiring qualified temporary labor.
3PLs offer flexible, cost-effective services. When you manage your own warehouse, you’re solely responsible for the full costs of labor, resources and equipment. When you work with a 3PL, however, you can enjoy flexible arrangements such as shared warehousing. With this model, your product shares warehouse space with other companies and each of you pays only for the space, labor and resources your operation requires.
Turn to Weber Logistics as your West Coast logistics workforce
With 12 high-velocity California warehouses and our own regional trucking fleet, Weber has the logistics infrastructure to support companies moving goods to and through the West Coast. We also have the resources and reputation to keep that infrastructure staffed with high-performing, well-trained associates and drivers. Attracting and retaining such qualified employees is a core part of our business and has a direct impact on the success of our customers. To learn more about how these efforts can support your operations, contact Weber today.