Employer branding

By Gian Schiava

March 2022

Why promoting job attractiveness is now essential in logistics

Various developments – not just the global pandemic – have boosted job opportunities in logistics and materials handling. Ordering goods through the internet by both companies and consumers has put a strain on the supply chain. Finding a skilled forklift driver or motivated order picker causes a lot of headaches for both HR and logistics managers. Gian Schiava finds out how properly planned communications can help to reduce this problem.

Shortages everywhere

Business challenges often differ from country to country, but it seems labour shortages in logistics are experienced everywhere. The picture becomes clearer when researching recent publications. American consultancy company McKinsey reported several months ago a massive labour mismatch in US logistics and supply chains. Job opening rates are around 50% above pre-pandemic levels, while evolving work preferences and accelerated retirement are not helping either. Although wages are increasing, this is not enough to reverse the trend.

Dutch logistics magazine Warehouse Totaal and the prominent French Le Monde have indicated that drivers (lorries, forklifts…) are in especially great demand. Meanwhile, in Spain, recruiter ManpowerGroup and the Foro de Logistica have presented their “VI Study of Employment Trends and Logistics Talent”. Despite strong growth, the logistics sector in Spain seems to be ignored – especially by young people. The survey shows the profiles which are most in demand and difficult to cover. Examples include professional drivers, traffic managers, logistics project engineers, forklift drivers and warehouse personnel. Amongst the study’s recommendations is advice that the logistics sector should be more transparent and attractive to both female talent and young people between 18 and 25 years of age.


In the Financial Times, the CEO of Wincanton, one of the UK’s largest logistics companies, predicts labour shortages will last well into 2022, despite rises in wages of as much as 40% in 2021. The article also states there is an estimated shortage of 100,000 truck drivers, which has led to gaps on supermarket shelves and contributed to delays at ports.

Having read these and many other publications on this subject, we can distil the reasons behind this incredible shortage as follows:

  • Age. An ageing population in combination with increased work pressure has certainly led many experienced people to retire as soon as they can.
  • Low unemployment rates. It is easy not only to find a similar job elsewhere but also to move to another sector. As preferences have changed, we see that young people in particular are valuing flexible hours, a better work-life balance or working from home.
  • An overall dissatisfaction amongst employees. Recent events have led many people to re-evaluate their current jobs, and often they have decided to actively pursue new goals.
  • Lack of communication with prospects. Logistics companies do not always prioritise their efforts to attract new talent. The combination of job advertisements and employment agencies is simply not enough.

Business challenges often differ from country to country, but it seems labour shortages in logistics are experienced everywhere.

Reversing the trend

While we in logistics are seeing wage increases throughout the continent, this tendency is also visible in other sectors. The shortage of labour has undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of automated systems like AGVs (automated guided vehicles), but not all business cases can justify such investments.

Dutch logistics provider Chain Logistics has adopted the concept of ‘open hiring’. In this system the company doesn’t look at the applicant’s resumé or employment history and there is not even a job interview. Motivation and the belief that you can do the job seems all that matters. This is perhaps not the ideal method when a company also wants to attract the most skilled and experienced candidates.


Employer branding boosts both visibility and attractiveness

It’s true that many roads lead to Rome, but nevertheless there seems to be a strong case for being more proactive in communicating with your desired employees-to-be and adding attractive assets to your offering. Marketeers call this effort ‘employer branding’, and it’s all about how you market your company to job seekers and internal employees. The better you do it, the more likely you are to attract top talent.

As in ‘customer marketing’, just paying lip service will not get you anywhere. It requires attentive day-to-day people management and the further development of clear company values and a positive workplace culture. After all, when someone asks your employee what it’s like to work there, he or she is not going to say, “We build powerful and versatile machines”. Instead, employees will talk about how nicely they are treated, about the job challenges and about the possibilities to achieve personal goals.

But that is only half the story. After this, your company has to develop and execute a top-notch communication plan to reach the desired job seekers and make them want to join you. In doing so, you must involve your current employees. Listen and register their stories, and share them through blogs, videos, lectures and photos. Do it consistently and one day you might be mentioned in publications like ‘The top companies in logistics to work for in 2023’. Besides employee stories, you might also want to share common personnel activities or community sponsorship. For example, the Texas-based branch of Cat® Lift Trucks awards a yearly $5,000 academic scholarship to an outstanding high school student from the Houston area. News like this is ideal to share through social media.

Employer branding requires a serious effort and is probably just one of the steps you can take towards building a more appealing reputation as an employer. However, can you really afford to do just the basics? For McKinsey, the answer is simple. Its publication “‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours”, about record numbers of US employees quitting their jobs, says that only organisations which learn the ‘why’ (and act on it) will have success in attracting and retaining talent.•