What will the workplace of the future look like? What role will automation and technology play in the way our jobs are conceived and carried out? How will companies compete for talent?

Across industries and around the world, business leaders are confronting fundamental, structural workplace challenges as demographics change, as technology advances, and as COVID-19 continues. For logistics companies, operating under the tremendous pressure of today’s complex supply chain demands, the questions being raised are particularly pertinent – and the answers will matter for everyone that depends on the efficient, global movement of goods.

That’s why a new DHL Trend Report – the Future of Work in Logistics – is so important, regardless of your particular industry. The report addresses workforce trends, the integration of automation and robotics, the preferences of Millennial and Gen Z employees, and the role of remote work beyond the pandemic.

Like many business sectors, the logistics industry is confronting labor shortages and the changing expectations of employees. Companies in the sector are also undergoing constant transformation through technology. Against this backdrop, the report examines how the roles, responsibilities, systems, schedules, tools, and environments of logistics workers will change over the coming decades – and how companies can prepare.

Here are some key findings, and what they may mean for your business:

New Dimensions in the Search for Talent

The challenges facing the logistics industry are certainly familiar to those in other sectors. Consider this from the report:

From truck drivers and warehouse workers to supply chain planners and data scientists, the industry is already grappling with a growing labor shortage and a war for talent. To succeed, organizations need to deploy strategies that will attract, retain, develop and motivate workers in the digital era.

What’s driving the tumultuous labor market, and what’s influencing employees? While the pandemic has had a large impact, the fact is that demographic changes were altering the workplace before COVID-19 came into the picture. Today, for the first time in history, digital natives are starting to outnumber those who began their careers before the internet. Those who make up the Millennial and Gen Z generations are set to fill many of the positions in the logistics industry today and in the next decade.

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The continued transformation of people in the workforce is creating a shift of values, with new expectations about the conditions of work, the goals of employers, and the rewards that are offered. Millennials and Gen Zers, both as members of the workforce and as consumers, are calling for new approaches around sustainability, diversity and inclusion, employee well-being, and tech-forward environments.

For the logistics industry and for your company, it will be critical to focus on creating a rewarding, engaging workplace and an organization with strong values. If you haven’t already, your company should establish a clear set of environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies.

Technology As Part of the Human Equation

The future of automation, artificial intelligence, and digital tools will not only impact and improve efficiency, but it will also fundamentally redefine the nature of work. It will re-align job descriptions and create entirely new kinds of opportunities for many of us.

Today, an estimated 29% of workplace tasks are done by machines – a number expected to grow to 52% by 2025. But critically, the logistics industry will continue to rely on people and their skills to function, with increasing collaboration between humans and machines. As the DHL report notes:

We see new technologies and the humans who are building, maintaining, optimizing and collaborating with them as essential to making logistics more efficient, more accessible, and more environmentally sustainable.

It is essential, then, that logistic companies and other organizations pursue efficient technology, but also ensure that employees understand the role of that technology: to enhance human effectiveness, to create new work opportunities for people, and to improve collaboration.

Global Workforce Survey Insights

To learn more about how logistics will work in the future, DHL surveyed more than 7,000 industry employees around the globe. Operations workers, office employees, as well as students and trainees were asked to share their views about automation, digital readiness, and workplace flexibility, among other issues. The survey results can help inform business leaders in the logistics field and beyond, providing insight into how best to attract new talent, communicate with employees, and organize workflow.

Some central findings include the following:

  • 9 in 10 logistics workers believe technology has been beneficial to their role in the past 5 years and will remain so in the next 10 years, yet over 50% still view automation as a potential threat.
  • Workers across generations still value the workplace, but a majority of operations and office employees want the ability to work remotely at least some days of the week. The desire to work remotely was strongest for the incoming generation.
  • The incoming generation (students and trainees), like all survey respondents, are looking for basic principles in a company, including good pay, good management, strong benefits and tangible growth opportunities. But, this generation scores corporate sustainability, diversity and innovation of higher importance than their pay.

What is clear from the findings is that logistic leaders need to take action to better communicate and engage with employees and potential new hires. They need to let their teams know that automation is meant to augment workflow and provide even more jobs and opportunities for advancement. They need to build a comprehensive plan for flexibility in the workplace, and they must, as mentioned, clearly articulate their ESG policies.

What does the future of work look like for your business? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.

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