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Navigating Today’s Logistics Labor Market

Posted by Aaron Lincove


Qualified candidates are, to an industry, the most valuable resource a company has for spurring growth. Without candidates waiting in the wings, every departure and retirement has a chilling effect on the business it belongs to—nowhere is that more apparent than in the struggles of the transportation and logistics industry.

As truck drivers hang up their keys and move onto another industry or to enjoy retirement, their routes are facing a bleak shortage of incoming recruits. However, as much as trade magazines might take a gloomy tone, there's still a great deal that can be done, particularly for driven (pun intended) hiring managers. Their techniques are keeping drivers on their routes and staving off an industry-wide issue, so logistics team leaders would do well to sit up and take notice.

Here are some of the most effective strategies for hiring managers use in the logistics industry to acquire and maintain great talent.

Prey versus Pray

Where do you find your talent when a position opens? The days of placing an ad in the paper are long over—and not just because papers are rapidly going extinct. Job searchers are presented with daily email digests from job-seeking sites; they're headhunted through websites like LinkedIn, they're coaxed in by big-brand recruiters with the promise of stability and longevity. It's little wonder, then, that the companies that passively place an ad and sit back to wait for responses aren't having luck. If you're guilty of the latter, you've been in a pray mindset—the hope and belief that "if you build "it," they will come."

Frankly, there's just too much noise in the market when viable candidates are actively job seeking, and that means if you aren't speaking up, you're already getting drowned out by default. So how do you combat this stagnation? Switch to a prey mindset - an active, research-oriented, innovative hiring approach that convinces a job seeker that your position is the one they should choose.

Actively Engage With Your Likely Talent Pool

shaking-handsWhere are they? Are they attending college, getting re-ups on certifications in a specific class? Are they fresh out of a forklift certification and hungry for a position to put it to use? Are they nervously eyeing rounds of layoffs from the large companies they work for, primed to jump ship? Go where they are looking, whether it's putting up a bulletin in a nearby lunch hotspot or signing up for message boards and online communities where they go for advice. You can't spot them if you aren't already there, so make sure you have a presence and make sure they can easily contact you.

Actively Engage Young Talent

In all the emphasis on losing seasoned talent, newcomers can get unjustly overlooked. Hiring directly from a school will ensure a steady flow of candidates that are both ready to work and armed with the fresh knowledge of the latest logistics concepts. Many vocational and trade schools offer their alumni job placement programs if they ever need them in the years after graduation, which will give you a secondary, ongoing source for viable hires. For any school, whether it is a four year supply chain program, or a two year associates program focused on a specific training, having strong relationships with professors goes a long way with impressionable students, so be sure to cultivate relationships with school faculty and staff as well.

Get To Know Your Competition

It's easy to end up in an echo chamber, patting yourself on the back for what you honestly believe is a competitive offer package. You'll need something to compare it to, and that means actively researching job opportunities from competitors both in and out of your industry. What are they offering to their candidates? Are you able to match or beat it? If not, what else can you offer your candidates that makes your position(s) unique and valuable? If you can't budge on pay, for example, are you able to offer more flexibility in scheduling? Find your strong points and emphasize them in your postings.

Unlock Your Employees’ Networks

Because the best recommendation any business can receive is one from a current employee, it's a best practice to put a referral program in place. Your employees are socializing with other potential employees in their network, and knowing someone on the team makes common obstacles like mismatched expectations and onboarding from scratch considerably easier to navigate.

When your employees work in a team of individuals they know and trust, they're also far less likely to wander into the waiting arms of another company.

Getting a Grip: Hold On To Your Talent

As previously mentioned, there are a lot of opportunities for workers now, particularly with the ease of online job postings and applications. Clearing the hurdle of the actual hire is cause for celebration, but it's not a given your new employee will stay indefinitely. Remember, poaching and headhunting is a way of life during the hiring process regardless of the industry these days, so you'll need to convince your employees to stay loyal to your company.

At Kenco, emphasizing a healthy work-life balance for our employees is imperative, endeavoring to "go big and go home" for transportation employees, which means we get our people back to their families either the same day or, at a minimum, multiple times a week. That also includes weekends—we know that being constantly on the road can be taxing, and we want our drivers to look forward to a solid day of work knowing their life and family is waiting for them at home.

While competitive compensation is critical, employees want to know that they have various levers to pull financially, outside of their regular pay. Ensuring there are ample financial and performance incentives to motivate new and current employees is another key to retaining your best employees. Additionally, sign-on bonuses can be the nudge over the fence for candidates that are a little hesitant to sign on the dotted line.

While pay and work-life balance is critical, a healthy culture is imperative to keeping our employees.

Our focus on developing core supervisor and manager skills, utilizing Gallup as a key tool in our engagement efforts and the thoroughness we take in hiring the right supervisors and managers is all necessary to retaining a healthy and productive workforce.

How a 3PL Can Help You Overcome a Labor Shortage

Simply put, finding, interviewing, hiring, and managing candidates is a time-consuming process, but it's still one you absolutely need to do to maintain the best workforce. Hiring a third-party logistics provider like Kenco can help you reinvest your energy into your existing workflows, instead of having it "leak out" through endlessly soliciting and interviewing a string of unsuitable candidates.

We standardize our training and expectations, so your processes are always handled in a way that strengthens the already-stellar reputation of our brand name. We can help you hire as needed for influxes of volume, and reduce team size as seasonal demand ebbs. We improve your productivity while keeping your products flowing in and out seamlessly through maintaining a team of highly-engaged and highly-vetted employees.

To Sum It Up

If navigating the hiring process is starting to seem more daunting than maintaining your market share, it's time to enlist some help. Click here to read our "Selecting and Managing a 3PL" eBook to find out how to pick the right 3PL partner for all of your most challenging hiring needs. 

Best Practices Selecting a 3PL

Aaron Lincove

Written by Aaron Lincove

Sr. HR Business Partner with a proven track record of accomplishment in planning and leading comprehensive HR strategies in support of business goals and objectives.


We'd like to hear about your supply chain and discuss ways Kenco can help address your business needs.

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Kenco provides integrated logistics solutions that include distribution and fulfillment, comprehensive transportation management, material handling services, real estate management, and information technology—all engineered for Operational Excellence. 

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