After a year of intense economic, social and public health turmoil, what is it that today’s workers really want to stay on the job? It is a vital question for employers who are now seeking to refill their ranks.
The EmployBridge industrial staffing services company thinks it may have come up with some answers stemming from its annual survey of more than 30,000 hourly workers, which allows it to gather insights directly from the workers themselves.
Its annual Voice of the Blue Collar Worker report is the nation’s largest survey of America’s hourly, blue-collar workers. The results were the topic of a session at this year’s Warehouse Education and Research Council annual conference.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 943,000 in July, the best gain in 11 months, and the official unemployment rate fell to 5.4%.
However, employers are continuing to report difficulties in filling their ranks. Job postings rose to a record 10.1 million by the end of June. Since that report, pressure was increased by the trend of employers requiring proof of vaccination for new hires as the Covid 19 Delta variant spreads.
Key variables shaping today’s labor market seem to arise from the impact of stimulus payments, fear of the pandemic and the availability of unemployment benefits. Add in erratic school and parenting schedules and it’s easy to see why we continue to have a dearth of job applicants.
The survey indicatses that there are some clear advantages to entering the logistics industry right now, and understanding how this works is vital to growing retention rates for third-party logistics warehouse employees.
For starters, when looking at the cost of living between 2002 and 2021, there is a steady increase year over year. Comparatively, average pay rates in the logistics industry remained almost stagnant from 2002 to 2014, with an average increase of only $0.70 per hour.
As hourly workers fell behind economically, demand to work in these roles lessened. However, in the last two years in logistics there was a jump in average pay rates by nearly $3.00 per hour, bringing supply chain and warehouse workers to a position that matches and even exceeds the Consumer Price Index for the first time since 2002.
Workers said this promising pay rate is the most important consideration when looking for a job, followed by company culture and flexible shift/schedule work.
Regarding turnover rates, 20% indicated that they left their last job for Covid-related reasons and 11% left for better pay. Note that respondents indicated that it would take an average hourly pay increase of over $2.00 for them to consider it motivating enough to make the move to a different job.
Looking at employee retention, when asked what makes someone stay at a company for a long time, most respondents indicated that their work schedule, company culture and a consistent increase in pay were the three most influential factors.
The most relevant takeaway was where respondents saw themselves in a few years time – 32% said they’d like to be in a leadership or supervisor role in their current field, “a clear indicator that tomorrow’s leaders are already working within our warehouses,” the researchers said.
The lessons are: Offer competitive pay and part-time/flexible shifts. Also, look inward to fill senior-level roles and invest in inhouse training to build ongoing relationships with our employees. In an industry seeing enormous growth and demand, it’s important to maintain an awareness that our employees are seeing an influx in job opportunities like never before, EmployBridge observed.
“Reflecting on how your organization can best meet the needs of this growing labor force may be the key to attracting and retaining the best talent in the logistics market.”