The impact on logistics has been particularly significant, with local lockdowns, border closures and disruptions to manufacturing creating ripple effects that have been felt across the industry.

The logistics sector certainly has the potential to thrive in the 'new normal' created by COVID-19. Research has shown how rising demand for essential commodities is expected to drive the market from a value of $2.7 billion (€2.4 billion) in 2020 to $3.2 billion in 2021.

But to survive in the current environment and take advantage of any opportunities that could be around the corner, your HR processes need to be as efficient and reliable as possible.

Here are five examples of how working with a dedicated HR services partner can help you achieve these goals and meet your current challenges:

1. Taking HR concerns off your hands

Many Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the logistics sector don't have a dedicated HR department. One person takes on all responsibility for HR, while also having to think about finance, sales, day-to-day operations and the many other processes involved in running a business.

If this sounds like your situation, you could have a lot to gain from outsourcing some of your most demanding and time-consuming HR tasks to an experienced partner. As well as reducing your workload and stress levels, this will give you more time to focus on your core business.

You might be concerned about the cost commitment of working with an external HR supplier, but there are various examples of how taking this approach can help you save money by being more efficient (see point five).

2. Cost efficiency

For SMEs that are focused purely on survival in the current environment, keeping costs under control will be a top priority.

While working with a dedicated HR services provider might seem like just another expense, it can actually help you save money by delivering greater efficiency across your entire HR function.

Optimizing your human capital processes can help you save money by:

  • Reducing overtime costs, because you're better equipped to increase workforce capacity in line with fluctuating demand
  • Avoiding high turnover rates, since better identification, onboarding and training of candidates will reduce the risk of them leaving
  • Minimizing lost productivity at times when existing staff are absent or on leave
  • Leveraging contingent talent when you have short-term needs, removing the need for expensive permanent hiring

3. Flexibility

Logistics firms are operating in changeable, unpredictable times. To succeed in this environment, your HR and workforce planning processes have to be flexible.  You need the agility to respond to trends in the market, whether you're scaling up to meet a sudden increase in demand or reducing capacity during seasonal or unexpected lulls.

A flexible approach to staffing can help you succeed in this environment. By working with a specialist HR partner, you can take full advantage of contingent labor - a section of the workforce that is currently on the rise.

Furthermore, there are benefits to be gained from dedicated solutions like shift planning tools, which could prove particularly crucial during your busiest periods.

4. Quick delivery

At those times when you're presented with unforeseen, one-off opportunities, it's vital that you're able to respond quickly. This isn't always easy if you're shouldering the full responsibility for your firm's HR function without any outside help.

If you have an immediate need for staff - whether it's on a permanent or temporary basis - outsourcing key tasks like identifying, interviewing and onboarding candidates can help you get the people you need as soon as possible.

The support of an HR services partner can be particularly valuable when you're in unique situations like having to acquire work permits for migrant workers, or when you need to deliver bespoke training for a particular role - a forklift truck driver position, for example.

5. Human engagement

The physical distancing requirements imposed by COVID-19 have led to a surge in remote working and use of technology to maintain contact between managers, employees and colleagues.

Smaller businesses in sectors like logistics might not be entirely comfortable making this transition to digital tools and processes, preferring a face-to-face approach. The pandemic is still very much a reality and physical distancing remains a priority, but as economies gradually reopen, many firms will be looking to return to their favored, more personal way of working.

The importance of balancing technology with the human element of recruitment is something Randstad recognizes in the Tech & Touch component of our brand identity. We use technology where it's beneficial, but we also seek to be a human partner to our clients.

If you're looking to succeed in this unique logistics industry environment by deriving maximum value from your workforce, now could be the time to consult with an HR services specialist.