Nearly 5.4 million Americans work in the vital transportation and warehousing industries. Among them are truck drivers, airline pilots, bus drivers, flight engineers, fulfillment center employees and more – most of whom work either hard manual labor or spend the majority of their working hours on the road.
Because of these demanding working conditions, and other factors such as expanding e-commerce activity across the globe, recruitment in the sectors requires special attention.
Challenges in recruitment for transportation and warehousing
Warehousing services are expected to grow at an annual rate of approximately 6% over the next five years. This has contributed to the first spike in wage rates that the industry has seen in years; it has also created a war for talent to fill job positions that are sometimes difficult to make attractive to potential candidates. Moreover, warehouses are often highly concentrated in metro areas, creating intense competition in close quarters.
Effects of these circumstances aren’t just felt by small to mid-sized warehousing companies, but also by giants such as Amazon. The tech company received just 20,000 of its 50,000 application goal during its highly publicized Jobs Day in 2017.
Furthermore, as companies make strides toward improving customer experiences by insourcing various operations, hiring demands subsequently increase. Amazon has discussed creating an in-house, last-mile delivery branch in order to better keep up with customer needs. While the idea may prove lucrative in the long run, this DIY approach requires an immediate and costly hiring push in order to acquire sufficient workers.
Transportation and logistics companies, on the other hand, are scrambling to fill the gaps left by retiring baby boomers. The introduction of new, enabling technologies such as AI and data analytics into the day-to-day operations of these sectors requires a broader skill set from candidates than ever before. Generation X and Y are also less attracted to the extreme work-life balance required by these industries, presenting a challenge in hiring young workers.
Companies in transportation and warehousing must find ways around these challenges through proactively and resourceful recruiting strategies.
Filling the worker gap: Recruitment best practices
By adhering to strategies that have shown promise in today’s landscape, recruiters can better meet the increasing demand for workers.
Hiring professionals in transportation and warehousing may find success with these guiding practices, which are already being put into motion by forward-thinking companies:
- Build a candidate pipeline. When the hiring landscape gets crowded in certain times of the year, companies benefit from having the majority of their recruitment work already completed. Attracting the best talent becomes easier if both companies and candidates are already on each other’s radars.
- Hire globally but speak locally. It’s important to think big when hiring for these industries, but local communities matter, too. If wages must remain unchanged to adhere to budgets, companies can attract talent by offering perks unique to specific communities (e.g. a gym membership or transportation cards).
- Always think beyond wages. A steady and competitive wage may be important, but wages alone won’t necessarily attract or retain quality workers. Benefit programs such as employee education – perhaps through a local community college – or flexible scheduling can transform a seemingly mundane warehouse position into the perfect fit for an eager candidate. Bonuses, gift cars and gas cards go a long way in showing employees that they are cared for.
- Appeal to the younger, tech-savvy generations. Mobile technology is permeating most sectors today, but its presence in transportation is especially important for attracting millennial workers – despite an associated learning curve. Generations X and Y have a high affinity for gadgets and connectivity, both when it comes to communications (e.g. keeping in touch with friends and family while on the road) or job-related technologies (e.g. tracking the location of goods or vehicles). Companies who highlight tech-savvy operations in employer branding have a better chance of standing out to potential candidates.
- Create an empowering worker culture. Cultivating a positive work environment may sound like a given, but it’s all-too-common for companies to lose sight of their employee health on a day-to-day basis. Fostering a culture of open communication, acceptance and understanding is a surefire way to increase retention rates for any team.
Bottomline: Adopt a proactive recruitment strategy to stay ahead in the transportation and warehousing sectors.
Beyond the strategies mentioned above, proactive recruitment means utilizing available tools, such as Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs), for candidate sourcing and funnel optimization. Introducing the right software to a recruiting team could mean the difference between struggling to find any quality leads for a position, versus gaining ten in one hour.
As companies begin to think outside of the hiring box in transportation and warehousing, they can open the door to more efficient hiring process within these industries – and perhaps discover ways to differentiate from competitors in the process.
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