HR digital transformation in the logistics sector
Insights from InterSearch Germany
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Smart glasses, machine learning, artificial intelligence – that is what the future of logistics looks like. But as much as the digital transformation of the industry is progressing, there is still a lot of catching up to do in the area of HR.
Many logistics companies lack digital expertise
Thorsten Brunsemann, Client Partner InterSearch Executive Consultants’ Frankfurt office, frequently works with clients in the logistics and IT sectors. According to him, the logistics industry faces major challenges, especially in the digitalization of recruitment processes, employer branding, and the general attractiveness to IT professionals. “Especially medium-sized companies often lack digital competencies. Many processes are not yet as digitized as in the manufacturing and trade sectors,” explains Brunsemann.
The logistics industry is not particularly attractive for IT specialists – yet
It is not only because of the global pandemic that many HR departments are currently undergoing major changes: digital personnel files, HR analytics, CRM platforms, and hybrid work models are becoming the norm in many places. According to Brunsemann, digital processes have already been introduced in some HR departments in the logistics industry out of necessity, but IT has overtaken management in some cases. Since IT does not have a strong connection to the logistics industry anyway, this makes finding suitable IT executives for logistics companies even more challenging. “The logistics industry has a reputation for being conservative. It often relies on classic full-time work, management structures are rather traditional and so it is less attractive for technology employees,” says Brunsemann. He sees room for improvement particularly in digital recruiting and digital employer.
Almost all candidates are active on social networks
Recruiting is increasingly taking place in the digital space and via social networks. E-recruiting is being used to reach a younger demographic, but the use of social networks is now so widespread that even the 1st and 2nd management levels can be found here, Brunsemann says. “This way, you can reach your entire target group,” he explains. “But in doing so, you have to be part of the community yourself and delve deeply into these networks, otherwise you will not find the most promising candidates,” he adds. When searching social networks, recruiters are relying on digital support: LinkedIn or Xing profiles can be searched and candidates are preselected with the help of crawlers and chatbots. Overall, artificial intelligence (AI) is an opportunity for recruiters to get directly involved in the qualification of candidates and to focus more on the “human” part. This is still integral to convincing candidates to change jobs. Brunsemann sees candidate experience as becoming an even more vital aspect of the future recruiting process. “Candidates do not want to be sent a profile straight away, but instead want a recruiter to enquire after their interests first. The focus must be on appreciation and interest in the person,” he explains.
Digital employer branding: a stepstone ad is no longer sufficient
Analogous to the developments in recruiting, digital employer branding is also essential in order to become more attractive for candidates. This is especially true for traditional medium-sized companies. “Often, employees are not sufficiently trained and HR measures are not optimized for social media and digital recruiting channels,” explains Brunsemann. This ranges from optimizing a job ad for mobile devices to selecting the right channels, he adds. He elaborates, “A simple Stepstone ad is no longer enough. A dedicated career website can make sense, or videos on YouTube that showcase the employer.” To attract IT talents, he says, a company must also present its digital expertise to the outside world.
Sustainability and diversity contribute to employers’ attractiveness
Diversity, inclusion, and transparency – these are three important areas that the logistics industry needs to address in order to remain sustainable and fit for the future, according to Thorsten Brunsemann. “The logistics industry is currently very male-dominated, and often exclusively looking to hire German-speaking candidates. Gender and disability are also rarely considered. Of course, this fairly outdated and does not contribute to the employers’ attractiveness.” Factors such as sustainability and purpose are also paid enough attention in the industry: “There are many software developers who decide against owning a car. But some of the logistics companies are so poorly connected that there is no other way to get to work.” In general, the attractiveness of logistics jobs needs to be evaluated. This also includes ensuring that compensation and advanced training keep up with market standards.
Brunsemann is optimistic that there is extreme potential for growth in the logistics industry. “Currently, the industry is still selling itself short, but we are witnessing a massive transformation that offers excellent opportunities for managers to grow,” Brunsemann says. “Companies have the opportunity to increase their attractiveness to potential candidates by taking the right measures to advance their digitization. However, HR departments need to reevaluate their understanding of roles”, he adds. “Personnel development with a clear focus on enabling and empowering employees is becoming increasingly important,” adds Brunsemann. A clear industry trend is already apparent, he says: “Chief information officers (CIOs) and HR departments need to work together much more closely. That is the only way forward.”
Client Partner in the Cologne office of InterSearch Executive Consultants
Since 1996, he has been supporting shareholders, board members, managing directors and HR managers of medium-sized companies and major corporations in filling management and key positions in Germany and abroad for leading HR consultancies. The focus is on the search, assessment and development of managers and top performers. In addition, he supports clients in change processes in the context of management audits.
His industry focus is on logistics, supply chain management, retail, manufacturing industries, internet, media and IT.
Thorsten Brunsemann studied business and organizational sciences at what is now Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, graduating with a degree in business administration.