There are few industries that changed during the pandemic more than logistics. The way consumers shopped literally changed overnight. In fact, global ecommerce sales rose by more than 27% from 2019 to 2020. With this significant shift to online purchasing, businesses across the globe were forced to develop new logistic strategies with little planning time. To add to this problem, companies saw the demand for goods fluctuating on a near-weekly basis and staff shortages like never seen before.
While the pandemic is starting to weaken and the global markets are finally beginning to stabilize, the demands in the logistics industry are still intense, especially when it comes to hiring skilled workers. For example, in the United States alone, there is an anticipated demand for over 600,000 new job openings in the logistics industry by 2029.
The demand for workers in the logistics industry is particularly high for common positions, such as
- transportation managers
Transportation managers oversee the transport of goods from point A to point B. These managers can specialize in a specific type of transport, such as rail, road, air and maritime, or manage the transport of goods across all mediums.
The EU employs more than 11 million workers in the transportation industry, which accounts for over 8% of the entire job market. Experts predict a 60% increase in freight transport by 2050, which will put an even higher demand on the need for logistics workers.
- supply chain planners
Rather than oversee the transport of goods, supply chain planners are responsible for the development of the supply chain processes. These plans include everything from purchasing and inventory to packaging and delivery.
Despite the pandemic, China still realized a 9.9% growth in exports. To meet the growing logistics demands in a post-pandemic market, 93% of China-based companies are planning to transform their current supply chain processes to improve efficiencies. It’s safe to say that over the next few years there will be an increased demand for supply chain planners in China to help companies with this transformation.
- warehouse workers
Warehouse workers, especially those with forklift certifications, are the core of the logistics industry. These employees are responsible for everything from fulfilling orders to packaging to shipping.
In the United States alone, there are over 3 million warehouse workers with an estimated demand for over 125,000 more workers by 2029. In the UK, the number of job openings in transport, logistics and warehousing in 2021 more than doubled the demand in 2019.
top emerging logistics HR trends
As the demand to recruit logistics workers continues to climb, it’s crucial for employers to stay up to date on the latest HR and strategies. These insights can help employers develop hiring practices that drive results, which in turn, will enable them to remain competitive in today's growing market.
To provide these insights, we have compiled a list of the top emerging trends in the logistics industry. Alternatively, you can also download our summary highlighting only the important trends.
1. shortage of skilled workers
Even before the pandemic hit, employers in the logistics industry were struggling to find skilled workers. Once COVID-19 hit, not only did the demand for shipping goods significantly increase but the talent pool of skilled, as well as non skilled, workers shrunk. As the economy begins to stabilize, employers are still finding it difficult to attract skilled workers.
There are several reasons for this skills gap, including:
general talent shortage
Not only is there a shortage of skilled workers, but there is an increasing deficit for talent in general. Experts predict that there will be a global talent shortage of 85 million workers by 2030. If proved to be true, this lack of talent could put an unprecedented burden not just in the logistics industry but for businesses across all industries.
The primary cause for this talent deficit is that many countries across the globe, including the United States and Japan, have seen declining birth rates for decades. Now as older workers, referred to in the U.S. as the baby boomer generation, begin to retire at staggering numbers, there are not enough younger workers to fill these open positions. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has only helped to worsen this problem, as some seniors are opting for retirement rather than going back to work.
Experts predict there will be a global talent shortage of 85 million workers by 2030.
This is not a problem that is likely to go away any time soon. Instead, employers must start taking steps now to improve recruitment efforts and prioritize job training and upskilling if they hope to remain competitive in the years to come.
younger candidates without experience
There’s no doubt about it – the global workforce is getting younger. One study shows that 21% of the world’s working-age population are between the ages of 15 and 24. Out of this number, only 36% are gainfully employed. With 64% of the working-age population not employed, it’s important to realize that many of these potential workers still lack the skills needed in the logistics industry. This fact is especially true for higher-level positions, such as logisticians and supply chain planners.
Furthermore, many of these potential workers are still completing their schooling and are not ready to start their professional careers. Even those who have completed a university program often come with little, to no, hands-on experience. Companies trying to replace retiring workers are likely to have a difficult time recruiting candidates with the same skill set.
This changing demographic is not limited to just one area, but it’s a global trend affecting nearly every market. For example, this same study reveals that millennials already makeup one-third of the workforce in the United States and it predicts that by 2025 Gen Zs will make up one-fourth of the Asia-Pacific population.
Additionally, in Canada, there are currently less than three working-age people for every citizen over the age of 65. With a stagnant job market, these figures might not seem significant. However, with the growing demand to recruit skilled workers, a younger talent pool can make hiring efforts extremely difficult.
shift in skill set
Another major reason logistics employers are struggling to find qualified workers is that the skills required to handle these jobs have changed dramatically over the past years. The reality is that the logistics industry is evolving. Innovative technologies, blockchain, robotics and workplace automation have all helped to streamline many logistics processes. While these emerging technologies have helped to streamline business processes and improve workplace efficiencies, it has also changed the level of skills needed to be successful on the job.
Now, more than ever before, logistics employers are seeking employees with technology-related skills. While the demand for digital skills has been a core criterion for higher-level positions, such as purchasing managers and inventory control managers, for years, now even some lower-level positions require some type of technology-related skills.
For example, with workplace automation infiltrating many warehouses, there is an increased demand to hire employees who can operate the various equipment and work side-by-side with this technology. Unfortunately, many applicants looking for warehouse work simply don’t have these necessary skills. In fact, even higher-level candidates are lacking the type of digital skills needed to be successful in the logistics industry. This shift in required skill set has left employers scrambling to find the right talent to fill its open positions.
- the pandemic has only intensified the skills shortage in the job market
- young applicants can’t replace the experience of retiring employees
- there’s a higher demand for tech-related skills in logistics
- now’s the time to invest in upskilling young and inexperienced workers as well as other high-performing employees
2. competitive compensation packages
Logistics companies that were lucky enough to make it through the pandemic are facing an increased demand to recruit skilled workers. In turn, this increased demand has created a highly competitive job market. One thing that employers are doing in an effort to attract skilled workers is to increase salaries and benefit offerings.
For many employers, the idea of increasing salaries may seem difficult in today’s unpredictable, post-pandemic markets. In fact, many logistics companies are taking steps to tighten their budgets and are working hard to cut costs, not increase them. Without offering competitive salaries, employers won’t be able to attract the talent needed to maintain efficient production levels.
The good news is that when done correctly, it’s possible to increase salaries and benefits without increasing costs. Companies that are able to identify optimal salary ranges based on market research can realize a reduction in employee turnover, a decrease in absenteeism and a drop in mandated overtime. All of these factors provide cost-savings for the company that can outweigh the costs of increased salaries.
Today’s savvy job seekers are not only interested in competitive salaries, but their idea of prime benefits has also changed. It should come as no surprise that candidates in a post-pandemic market consider medical insurance, including health, dental and vision as well as supplemental insurance, a key benefit. While medical coverage has always been an important benefit factor, especially for workers in countries without state-sponsored insurance offerings, candidates are taking a closer look at these packages to ensure it provides the coverage they need.
Today’s savvy job seekers are not only interested in competitive salaries, but their idea of prime benefits has also changed.
Flexible scheduling has also emerged as a top benefit candidates want. This factor makes sense since the pandemic put added stress on many employees’ personal lives. Not only did some workers have to deal with the side effects of COVID-19 or lost loved ones, but they also found themselves caring for elderly parents or taking steps to homeschool their children as schools shut down across the globe. Others simply seek flexible jobs to invest in continuing their education or to start a side business.
With the uncertainties related to a post-pandemic world still lingering, job seekers are looking for some type of assurance from prospective employers that they will have the flexibility necessary to maintain a healthy life-work balance. This flexibility could come in many forms, flexible scheduling, part-time hours or shift swapping.
Flexibility has also emerged as a top benefit candidates want. This flexibility could come in many forms, such as flexible scheduling, part-time hours or shift swapping.
Safety in the workplace is another primary concern today’s employees have. They are looking for employers who take creating a safe workplace environment seriously by investing in safety training and special features, such as a wash-up or changing rooms.
- competitive compensation packages are key to recruiting top talent
- in-depth market research can help identify optimal salary offerings
- today’s workers are looking for meaningful benefit packages
- make workplace safety a top priority
3. scalable workforce
If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught the logistics industry, it’s the need to be adaptable. Not only did consumer’s shopping habits literally change overnight as more and more customers opted for online shopping versus in-store shopping, but the demand for various goods changed almost weekly.
Many companies in the logistics industry were forced to transform their shipping processes almost instantly to meet consumers’ emerging demands. Additionally, the demand for the types of goods consumers wanted was constantly changing, which required drastic changes to the procurement, packing, storage and delivery processes.
As these demands continued to fluctuate significantly throughout the pandemic, there also became an increased need for a scalable workforce. To create this scalable workforce, employers have started to prioritize several workplace processes, including:
As absenteeism in the United States rose by more than 45% during the pandemic, employers realized just how important it is to cross-train employees to handle key functions. When implemented correctly, cross-training in the workplace can ensure a smooth workflow process, despite having a few key workers absent.
Even with the pandemic starting to subside, it’s not likely that employers stop their cross-training efforts. In fact, as competition in the workplace continues to grow, the need to have multiskilled workers in-house will become even more important.
increased need for temporary workers
The ability to meet consumer demands is what will make or break logistics companies as the world moves into a post-pandemic market. Unfortunately, these same companies are taking extraordinary steps to cut costs where possible. One of the most efficient ways to develop a scalable workforce, especially laborers, without incurring undue costs is by using temporary and seasonal workers. Having temporary workers available to fill-in the gap allows the company’s skilled workers to focus on core aspects of the logistics process.
While temporary workers cannot fill every position in the workplace, they can add the extra support needed to handle consumer’s fluctuating demands. The need for temporary workers in the logistics industry is not expected to decline at any time in the near future. On the other hand, some companies, especially those in the US market, are increasingly focusing on permanent positions and turning their temporary positions into permanent ones.
enhance workplace analytics
It would be nearly impossible to create a scalable workforce without accurate workplace analytics. In particular, the ability to forecast staffing and production needs is crucial for scalability. After all, your company needs to accurately predict how many workers are needed for any given shift. High-level forecasting is even more important for logistics companies that utilize temporary or seasonal workers.
The good news is that with the right workplace analytics, logistics companies can create accurate staffing schedules that not only ensure production demands are met, but that also help to cut costs.
- logistics companies are developing scalable workforces
- cross-training of key workplace functions is more important now than ever before
- workplace analytics is crucial for creating a scalable workforce
If your company, like many others in the logistics industry, is concerned about the demand to hire talent in a post-pandemic market, the first step is to realize how the logistics industry has changed and what new hiring trends are emerging. We've compiled a recap of these logistics HR trends, so you can keep them on hand for quick reference as you navigate the uncertainties of a post-pandemic market.