Health & wellbeing in logistics – many logistics operators are now focusing on employee health and wellbeing as a competitive advantage and differentiator which can only be positive for long-term development.
By John Manners-Bell
July 30th 2019
The logistics industry is struggling to attract good quality people partly due to conditions in which employees are being asked to work and the poor public perception of the sector.
This is very unfortunate for the many warehouse and distribution companies which deliver high quality services provided by motivated staff within a positive working environment. In a time of virtually full employment there are many choices for jobseekers, which means that the logistics industry has to up its game to remain attractive.
This is not a bad thing. For too long the industry has been regarded as low cost and low value adding. The fact that many operators are now focusing on health and wellbeing as a differentiator in the employment market can only be positive for the long-term development of the sector. As one distribution manager put it, “Decades of research link the health and wellbeing of staff with improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, improved morale, reduced health care costs and improved staff retention rates, and [our company] is certainly already reaping the benefits.”
However, this issue risks becoming just another soundbite unless values are adopted from the top down. Initiatives can be broadly categorized into firstly Health & Wellbeing and secondly, Safety. The two of course are linked. Those warehouse companies which have a poor record as regards the welfare of their employees, also often have a bad record in terms of safety.
‘Successful’ companies – and by that I mean those which are able to demonstrate long term profitability and which have strong brand equity – have been able to create:
These apply at an individual, team and organisational level and have implications on personal and business resilience, engagement and performance.
In terms of Health and Wellbeing, best practice encompasses programmes which include:
As far as Safety is concerned, best practice will include the identification, analysis, mitigation and documentation of potential incidents. Better engagement with the workforce – whether through ‘champions’ or employee groups, will flag up many of issues which otherwise would not come to the attention of management until after an incident, by which time it is too late.
Health and Wellbeing is becoming a critical issue for all companies involved in logistics – whether third party or in-house operators. This focus has been driven partly by the difficulty in recruiting labour in many parts of the world, but also by the growing acknowledgement that the industry must improve quality. In many respects the decision to make a relatively small investment in the workforce is not hard. It is often repaid many times over in terms of higher levels of productivity; lower recruitment costs; lower employee churn; fewer lost hours due to sickness and less management time spent on health and safety issues. This can only produce positive outcomes for all parties within the supply chain: workers, managers and, of course, the companies themselves.
Source: Transport Intelligence, July 30, 2019
Author: John Manners-Bell
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