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A sustainable human resources policy enables small and medium sized logistics companies to gain ground in the "war for talent". The lack of young talent is one of the major challenges in the logistics industry. Currently and in the future too. The volumes of goods transportation are steadily rising and vehicle technology is constantly being developed – the demand for qualified professional drivers is therefore correspondingly high. Especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the logistics sector are finding it difficult to hire suitable personnel, as the big players in the industry can often offer attractive employee benefits. So does that mean that SMEs have little chance of finding the right drivers and keeping them in the long term? Not necessarily – at least according to a research project by the University of Fulda, Germany. The core idea is as follows: SMEs can significantly improve their position in the "war for talent" through socially sustainable personnel policy. The German university surveyed nearly 130 german based companies in the logistics industry for the study.

Social sustainability becoming more important

Poor employment conditions make it particularly difficult to attract and retain professional drivers. Collective agreements are therefore regarded as an important parameter for the compliance with minimum standards. The sample showed that 52.7 percent (i.e. more than half of SMEs) are covered by collective agreements. When asked which types of collective agreement apply, almost three quarters are subject to a covering agreement or company wage agreement. A little less than half of the companies are bound by collective wage agreements. The vast majority of professional drivers are employed on a permanent basis. Almost all surveyed companies also stated that they do not fall back on contract workers when it comes to filling vacancies for professional drivers. Vocational training is a key focus of personnel development. That is why questions about the future-oriented education and training of workers were also asked: 62 percent of companies carry out vocational training and further training planning with their driver personnel. For employees this is an important criterion when choosing an employer. When it comes to the major topic of social sustainability, the study shows the following results: Companies have become aware of the importance of social sustainability and in particular the social responsibility towards employees for the recruitment and retention of professionals. However, the importance of voluntary CSR measures to the advantage of their employees that go over and beyond the mandatory measures is not sufficiently recognised by many businesses. How even a small logistics company can retain professional drivers:

Current situationPotential for optimisation
Partially fixed-term contracts, employment on a contract basis, marginal employment, involuntary contract work(Full-time) work contracts subject to social security contributions that provide job security
Work time models often aligned solely with company interests; partly on-call workGranting of more self-determination by drivers in relation to working time [flexitime, (life) working time accounts, age-appropriate working time models], no on-call work, provision of job-sharing offers particularly for (female) drivers with family
Partially not bound by or based on a collective wage agreement, only partially pay for overtime, night work and encumbrancesOrientation on collective wage agreements, appropriate compensation for overtime and night work, hardship allowances, additional remuneration for the support of trainees, volunteer training in free time and health-promoting personal provision
Mostly small and rigid offer of company benefits and facilities that are not always up-to-date, and lack of health managementLife phase-oriented and contemporary alignment of employee benefits, leisure and fitness offers, regular health checks, health and nutrition advice, support with childcare and/or care of relatives, occupational pensions
Qualification measures mostly limited to the necessary (required by law) without future planning; further training partly according to the professional driver qualification law without assumption of costs and/or leave of absenceDevelopment of reliable training plans that are adapted regularly, implementation of age-appropriate skills training, financial and/or work time support for the training according to professional driver qualification law
Partial application of an authoritarian leadership style, more incident-based than regular staff appraisals, relatively unincisive feedback culture, rarely surveys on job satisfaction among employeesStaff leadership dialogue, granting of freedom of action, regular staff meetings and information sessions, target agreement and achievement discussions, development and remuneration discussions, assessment of superiors by employees, formulation of guiding principles, employee surveys on job satisfaction

Source: Hochschule Fulda/Fulda University of Applied Sciences, Germany; Fachbereich Wirtschaft/Faculty of Business


Sonja Terbrüggen


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