The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged supply chain and logistics in ways we have never seen before. Unprecedented disruptions, shortages and changing consumer demands are causing many to rethink conventional supply chain best practices and identify those innovations and new ideas that will help reimagine the global supply chains of the future.
And while it may seem misguided in the midst of a pandemic to talk about recruiting, now could be an ideal time to take a look at your recruiting program and determine how best to strengthen it for the future. One viable option might be to digitally transform your recruiting efforts, like we have done at DHL Supply Chain.
What worker shortage?
Before COVID-19, demand for supply chain talent was at an all-time high, outstripping supply and creating major worries for companies across all industries.
Many of these companies were finding it difficult to fill senior-level supply chain management positions, even though more people were earning supply chain management degrees and certifications each year. Some studies estimated that for every qualified supply chain manager, there were six available jobs.
The shortage was most acute when it came to lower-level and skilled labor. The lack of truck drivers was driving up transportation rates and hampering available capacity. Many logistics companies were actively exploring and implementing new schemes and approaches to get more drivers behind the wheel to keep goods flowing. At the same time, warehouse labor costs were rising as companies were also having difficulty finding qualified talent.
And then came COVID-19. While the pandemic has created demand in certain areas for more warehouse workers, it has actually alleviated the labor shortage in trucking. Some logistics companies have reduced capacity and, in the case of a number of smaller operators, put their operations on hold. The reduction in capacity has been far exceeded by the overall drop in demand.
However, all signs point to this being a temporary phenomenon. The skilled labor and driver shortage is a long-term challenge facing the logistics industry as a whole. As the country recovers and stability and growth return, the shortages will also return.
For instance, the average age of drivers in the U.S. is around 55 years old, and there doesn’t currently seem to be sufficient numbers of new recruits entering the workforce. The issue may be exacerbated in the future if some capacity does not reenter the market, and also potentially by new operating protocols that may be introduced to protect drivers (such as limited sharing of cabins) if a COVID-19 vaccine cannot be developed within that timeframe. And these issues extend beyond transportation to the entire supply chain.
Beyond the overall issue of competition for talent (where we are seeing highly-skilled labor being attracted to other sectors such as finance, IT and start-ups), it is also due to the changing nature of supply chain management and the new skillsets we need in the industry. We are looking for skills in areas such as technology, change management and data analysis, which also puts us in competition with other industries.
Digitalization of recruitment
Since the labor shortage has temporarily lessened, it is an ideal time to digitalize your recruiting program and establish a foundation which will be ready to support efforts when demand returns.
In the U.S. and Canada, DHL Supply Chain transformed the way we manage our hourly recruiting, automating the process – from online applications to pre-hire testing to onboarding – to increase the effectiveness of our efforts and the quantity and quality of applicants.
Aligned with our digitalization strategy, we eliminated time-consuming manual tasks and developed a new integrated hourly recruiting and onboarding system and seven recruiting centers across North America to ensure a highly efficient and effective recruiting process.
Our HR team worked to document and review all of the steps in our recruitment process to remove redundancy and variations, identify the correct owners of each step and determine opportunities for automation. After this review, we were able to eliminate 22 steps from our recruitment process. The team also identified an end-to-end recruiting solution that could be integrated with our existing software programs to create a more streamlined and efficient process.
In just the first year of implementation of this program, DHL Supply Chain saved an estimated 57,589 hours of time, which equates to approximately 359 minutes per hire.
Over 400 sites now use the new recruitment system and processes. When job postings are created by a site, the job openings are automatically matched to candidate preferences for optimal candidate match. Applications are automatically posted to our job boards. Pre-screenings, interviews, offers and all other communications are managed in the end-to-end recruiting solution we installed. Additionally, all onboarding forms are completed prior to the worker’s first day.
The success of the approach is the result of four main features that work together to create a more efficient and seamless process.
- Applicant tracking system that offers sophisticated reporting and tracking, and enables online applications. It also enables “apply from any device” mobile optimization and interactive voice response application capabilities.
- Candidate management tool that provides the capability to pool potential candidates for future openings, and the ability to stay connected with seasonal candidate populations for ongoing seasonal needs. It establishes an ongoing source of readily available and screened candidates.
- Online onboarding inclusive of all pre-hire paperwork to ensures the ability to track and maintain compliant, error-free forms for all new hires and provide a consistent hiring experience.
- End-to-end integration so all systems related to hourly recruiting are integrated, and technology is leveraged to transfer data from one system to another without manual intervention. This includes background checks, drug screenings and hourly assessment tests.
By digitalizing its hourly recruiting approach, DHL Supply Chain streamlined its hourly recruiting services to support a consistent, efficient and sustainable recruiting administration process. It enabled us to put in place a recruit-to-hire strategy that leverages industry-leading
technology to better track applicants, ensures compliance and gives us complete visibility into the end-to-end recruiting cycle. We have also gained quick access to a broad pool of quality, customer-focused candidates to meet seasonal and growing labor needs, as well as support high-volume hiring, enabling us to deliver faster startups and flexibility to our customers.
Transportation and the supply chain are the backbone of the U.S. economy and any resurgence in the economy will bring with it renewed demand and growth for transportation services. So while your business recovers from COVID-19, it may be an ideal time to digitalize your recruiting efforts to better position your company to grow capacity and meet future demand.
- About the author: Tim Sprosty Is the senior vice president of human resources, DHL Supply Chain, North America