Companies must become a more ‘human’ place for workers

Companies must become a more ‘human’ place for workers

Logistics and freight forwarding is a “people’s business.” This is a widely recognized truth in the industry, and it is propagated by leaders and anchored in many companies’ visions and mission statements. But when we ask how people in the industry view their companies and leaders, it seems there is not much love lost after all.

In a new study on the human side of the industry, where more than 1,000 people around the globe participated, some concerning results emerged. Overall, the employee experience in the industry is mediocre, and the experience of the leadership is somewhat below average.

It is important that the industry, individual companies, and leaders are aware of the issues that their employees experience negatively. Because if the employee experience is not improved, companies risk being unappealing to their employees. Good people will leave, and good talent will find the companies unattractive, perhaps causing them to lose interest in a career as a logistician or freight forwarder. This is a downward spiral that eventually negatively impacts customers.

How workers view their companies

With a result of 54 of a max score of 100, respondents experience their employers to be only average. The belief in company goals is slightly better with a score of 60, but at the same time 40 percent of the respondents want their company to provide more clarity of the company vision and mission, while 60 percent want their company to improve the internal collaboration.

These results raise some tough questions: Do companies have a vision and mission at all? Or is the formulation and communication so uninspiring that people do not understand it? It should be easy for a logistics company to formulate a compelling vision and mission, as the work of a logistics company is vital for the world’s trade and prosperity. Many other companies are dependent on logistics companies, but it seems that this opportunity to formulate a meaningful vision is often overlooked. 

The level of feeling valued and recognized on a personal level are both rated with a mediocre score of 50. But it is even sadder to see that 33 percent do not feel valued and 24 percent say that they do not receive recognition for their achievements.

Obviously, this is poison for people’s feeling of self-worth and something that can creep into an organization, destroying the culture and people’s level of happiness. Surprisingly, respondents still report a high level of personal engagement (71), and they rate the overall organizational level of engagement to be 60. While this may seem like a good score in comparison to other results, the question is how long this level of engagement is sustainable without better connection to the company.

How workers view their leaders

The overall score for the leadership experience is 50, hitting a perfectly mediocre level. While it is visible that leaders are good in giving autonomy (62), it is critical to see the comparable scores for other leadership behaviors. Level of trust in the leader is at 55 and the level of empathy from the leader is 52. Both are unsatisfying results. Leaders are rated with a 47 when it comes to supporting employees to feel confident and with 47 for the level of inspiration they give. All scores are concerningly low, and unacceptable for any healthy employee and leadership relationship.

These gaps cannot be filled with technical training or building of communication capabilities. The results are an indication for a need to change the mindset of leaders, and in particular to work on the leaders’ level of self-awareness.

The most alarming gap in the leadership capabilities are reported for the leaders’ ability to provide constructive feedback. With a low score of 35, it becomes clear that many leaders are neither connected with their employees, nor do they utilize the right conversational skills in communicating with them.

Overall, the low scores for the leadership experience raises the question whether the leaders really care about their employees on a personal level. To be empathic, compassionate, and willing to support other people is more a question about personal values and attitude, rather than the skills a leader has. Organizations would benefit from focusing more of the leadership development around this, and ensure that a leader’s mindset and behaviors are supporting the desired company culture.

Opportunities to foster ‘positive’ culture

There are plenty of opportunities for logistics and freight forwarding companies to take initiatives that foster a positive company culture, and to equip their leaders with the understanding and capabilities they need to become true enablers of their organizations. The key-word is “enable,” instead of instruct and manage. With the quite acceptable level of engagement we see in many organizations, the high level of personal commitment and willingness to work hard, companies and leaders have a great opportunity to enable their people. They can unleash the positive energy which is needed to build the future of the industry. Then, logistics and freight forwarding can be a true “people’s business.”

The report can be downloaded here: https://www.novosensus.org/humanside

Novosensus is an organizational development company. Henrik Kofod-Hansen can be reached at henrik@novosensus.org.