As the industry grapples with a growing labor shortage and a war over talent, organizations must deploy strategies to attract, retain, develop and motivate workers in a digital era in order to succeed.
That’s from the latest Trend Report, Future of Work in Logistics, DHL examines how the concept of work – the roles, responsibilities, systems, schedules, tools, and environments of logistics workers – will change over the coming decade.
Over 7,000 professionals from the logistics and supply chain industry weighed in on the opportunities and challenges they face to contribute to the report.
Digital natives will begin to outnumber those who began their careers before the internet and this continued influx of younger people in the workforce is accelerating a shift of values in the workplace. Millennials and Generation Z are pressuring the logistics industry to meet new expectations around sustainability, diversity & inclusion, employee well-being and tech-forward environments. Combined with improvements in digitalization, automation and AI, there has already been a significant impact on jobs, workplaces and entire sectors around the world.
“While nine in 10 survey respondents felt technology has been helpful to their career, still over 50 per cent admitted viewing AI and automation as a potential threat,” said Matthias Heutger, senior vice-president and global head of innovation at DHL. “This represents a huge opportunity and responsibility for corporations and governments to act swiftly and collaboratively to alleviate concerns by providing transparent strategies forward and demonstrating success with human-machine co-working environments to lead people into the next era of work with confidence.”
While experts do not foresee the logistics industry introducing an instant shift from human labor to full automation, respondents do see a gradual period of change over 30 years in which more roles will collaborate with technology instead of competing with it — despite some workers’ fears. Furthermore, the authors of the trend report anticipate an uneven application of technologies around the world, with some regions and teams along supply chains experiencing slower or smaller changes than others.
“Digitalization is already fundamentally changing the way we live and do business. The pandemic only accelerated the execution of plans that companies had envisaged. We assume that 30-35 percent of all activities could be automated by 2030. Nevertheless, we firmly believe the majority of our value creation will still be provided by people”, says Thomas Ogilvie, chief human resources officer at Deutsche Post DHL Group. “There is no doubt that certain jobs will change, but the work will remain. What this tells us is that lifelong learning is more than ever before the key to success in the digital age.”
Most respondents said they want to work in the office anywhere from part-time to full-time, with six in 10 operations workers wanting to work remotely at least once a week, compared to five in 10 office workers. Supply chain organizations must consider ways to make flexible work more accessible through new HR policies and technologies like teleoperation.
With stores and restaurants closed for months, e-commerce experienced unprecedented levels of growth globally as more and more people shopped online and as businesses that were traditionally brick-and-mortar joined the online economy. This growth in e-commerce has led also to a surge in demand for logistics labor to help fulfill, transport, and deliver the billions of orders placed annually. To meet the growing demand for logistics, alleviate labor shortages, and build more resiliency into supply chains, Covid-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of logistics.