From labor disputes to the rise of smarter data for logistics companies, there’s a lot to keep up with in the transportation industry. As you look ahead, these logistics industry trends will help you create the right labor management and internal communication strategies to effectively engage and retain your distributed workforce.
Logistics Industry Trends to Watch
So, let’s dive into how things are moving in the industry and how you can prepare for the year ahead.
Logistics Worker Retention
Retention is a particularly big challenge for logistics, and it’s only getting worse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that the number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs in this industry is increasing. This is creating a perfect storm in the industry as the pandemic sparked an e-commerce boom that hasn’t really slowed.
Here are some of the top reasons why:
- Safety. It’s increasingly more difficult to hire and retain truck drivers just solely on the nature of how dangerous their work is. Truck drivers are 10 times more likely to be killed on the job than the average American worker.
- Below Average Pay. What happens when you’re more likely to die and also feeling underpaid? Churn. Earnings for employees in the transportation industry was $4 below the national average.
- Rise of Labor Unions. The transportation sector has long had low unionization rates. But that could start to change, according to Projections Inc. who say “the current national labor climate promotes unionization.” When you hear the stories of the long shifts, exhaustion, and sub-par employee experience, you can understand why. But some employees in the industry claim that “truck drivers are ‘unions’ in and of themselves. If a company is unwilling to pay me what the market demands, there are dozens of companies out there clamoring for my services.” No matter how you slice it, it can lead to attrition.
As we mentioned already, safety is a huge issue for the logistics industry. Truckers, warehouse workers, and material movers face safety risks every day, making the continuity of a Safety Culture absolutely critical.
In 2020, there were 846 fatalities in the logistics sector.
And as churn increases with demand, this only creates more dangerous situations for your workers.
Overtime, this can not only increase risk of physical injury, but can also have serious mental health implications.
Engagement in Transportation
Employee engagement is naturally not very good when retention is low and stress is up. Even employees who are able to chase higher pay by hopping around, might not feel the same wage-related burden, but they don’t have the same level of security and consistency that benefits mental wellbeing.
This makes it critical for companies to figure out their employee value proposition ASAP.
Internal Communication Technology
The internal communications tools we provide to logistics workers have to evolve. If we want to keep our employees safe during a crisis or even during daily operations, they have to have the right communication technology.
Labor Relations in Logistics
With all the tensions in the industry, it’s no surprise that there is legislation and numerous bills being considered in the United States.
Although legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) did not have unanimous approval from truck drivers—who would have lost their ability to be classified as independent contractors and seek the best pay—it does show that things are changing in the industry. That things should change, even if the solutions aren’t straightforward.
As we move forward into 2024, consider that although logistics workers typically haven’t unionized, labor relations and how you combat your labor shortage, safety issues, and harsh working conditions is going to make all the difference.
How to Address These Logistics Industry Trends
As you can see, the logistics industry trends we’re facing right now don’t have an easy fix. But there are many things we can do as communications and HR professionals to address these challenges.
- Focus on employee relations. Building stronger relationships with your employees where you listen to their feedback and actively seek to improve their experience at work is critical. This also includes creating a recognition program that shows employees they are valued.
- Training and development. Not only can recurring training increase employee safety, it can also be a tool for developing your people. It’s also key to include training paths for managers so they can better support their teams during these difficult times.
- Make safety part of your culture. Your employees are stressed. They’re burnt out. You have to make safety top-of-mind. And that goes beyond physical safety. Investing in employee wellbeing programs is going to be essential to keep your workers safe.
- Improve diversity. If you can start to change the perception of truck drivers as a man’s profession, you open up a huge opportunity by recruiting women.
- Give employees a voice. If you want employees to be more engaged, you have to make their voices heard. They’ll tell you what they need and want from you as an employer. You just have to listen. And remember that your drivers, dock workers, warehouse teams, and support staff might all have different perspectives. It’s important to collect everyone’s feedback and respond equitably.
- PRO TIP: Share survey and focus group feedback with the whole company to build a more transparent culture.
Technology for Modern Logistics Companies
To help support your strategies for addressing the latest logistics industry trends, you’ll need to consider your communications tech stack. Conducting an audit of your communications channels is a great place to start to uncover the barriers to successful communication.
If you’re interested in learning more about theEMPLOYEEapp and how we might be able to help you reach, engage, and retain your employees, please request a demo today.
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