In this Expert View piece Gavin England, Services & Distribution Industry Insight Manager at Kronos, looks at how to increase productivity and agility with improved workforce management solutions.
The environment in which transport organisations operate has changed dramatically in recent times, mainly driven by the huge shift in the retail industry. Consumers are more demanding than ever before, leading to omni-channel retailing becoming the norm. They expect instant fulfilment, to order anywhere, collect from, or have delivered to, any location, and to return goods easily. Seasonal peaks and troughs are also becoming more prevalent, with the growth in events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There is also a steady growth in demand, due to increased post-recession consumerism, and a rising population.
This has led to greater demand for transport operators to provide more capacity and to be much more flexible. Increased productivity and agility is essential. One of the keys to achieving this is through the talents of their workforce. The skilled and experienced staff within these organisations lie at the heart of this transformation.
However, here lies a real predicament. Having the right people on board can improve productivity and flexibility, but it’s ever more difficult to hire and retain suitable, talented staff. In most areas of this industry, there is a growing shortage of skills, particularly drivers. The perceived cost of entry is pushing potential young drivers away, whilst many older drivers are retiring early, due, in no small part to CPC regulations. With nearly half of drivers over fifty years old, the driver shortage will only increase over the coming years.
Transport operators have realised there is no easy answer. However, another way to approach the problem is making the existing workforce more efficient and productive – to do more with the staff available, rather than focus solely on hiring additional people. This, of course, doesn’t mean pushing drivers and other employees harder, risking higher staff turnover, fatigue, and non-compliance. It’s about a balance between making staff more effective, whilst keeping them happy and engaged.
Many organisations are looking to improved workforce management strategies to achieve this balance. Through the application of a workforce management solution, transport operators are able to understand labour capacity in real time, through the automation of time and attendance. They have an accurate view of hours worked by each individual, including overtime, their shift preferences, and how many hours they have available to work in the coming days and weeks. They are then able to make the most flexible use of drivers and other staff by scheduling available people with the right skills and qualifications to demand. Real-time visibility of who’s available at any one time then enables them to quickly cover unforeseen absences. This all results in more efficient scheduling, and more effective use of available staff.
But there’s more to workforce management than this. On top of efficiency and performance improvements, they increase employee satisfaction and engagement. By applying fairness rules to workload and overtime allocation, taking into account staff preferences when scheduling , ensuring accurate pay, assigning only tasks individuals are qualified for, and enabling them to flexibly manage shifts and holidays, a workforce management solution will foster happier, less stressed, empowered and engaged staff.
Through improved workforce management strategies, transport operators can address the skills shortage by doing more with the staff they already have. Learn more by attending the Kronos presentation at the Microlise Transport conference, or visit www.kronos.co.uk.
Kronos’s Gavin England will be discussing this topic further in the Motor Transport Workshop at 14:15.