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Let’ talk about: Employer branding in logistics

Employer Branding - happy employees

Let’s talk to Nora Breuker from Setlog about Employer Branding in Logistics.

What is Employer Branding, and why do companies need a meaningful Employer Brand?

Nora: Employer Branding, in general, is building a brand that is specifically an employer brand. That means it’s different from the business brand that you might have created. An employer brand is necessary to recruit new employees but also to keep those that you have already employed at your company. To keep them happy and to keep them with you for a more extended period. 

In the last couple of years, we have seen that it switched from being an employer market to an employee market. The employees now have the power to choose what they want to do with their professional lives. Employees now decide who they want to work for. It is harder to deal with the new situation for companies that used to choose new employees out of a big pool.

So everything that Employer Branding kind of entails is the basis for all recruitment measures that you do as a company. It goes from where you want to place your job listing, how the application process goes, how you can build a brand that is attractive for those people who might want to work for you. That is Employer Branding in general. It is not different if it’s a logistics company or any other company.

Do you see a difference between employer branding for white-collar or blue-collar employees, e.g. different tools or stress other aspects?

Nora: There is a difference, because when you see gigantic examples out there for Employer Branding, like  Google or Amazon. They try to target their white-collar employees with things like a billiard table or nerf guns, which are not things that might be part of a typical workplace for someone more blue-collar. So there is a difference in how you present yourself as an employer. What might be necessary for those people who want to work in a logistics center? It’s a different story that you have to tell, but in general, the tools that you use are pretty much the same. 

Do you also see that many companies in logistics have different stories that they are telling in their employer branding campaigns?

Nora: Yes, because we have so many different employee groups that you want to hire for so many various vacancies. You tell different stories for each. And one of the main things that Employer Branding is doing, is telling the stories of their employees. It is exciting for people who are looking for a job to see what their job would entail when they work for that company. What does their day-to-day basis look like?

TOP TIPS FROM EXPERT NORA BREUKER

Do you have someone in mind that has an outstanding employer branding in logistics?

Nora: There are a couple of companies that are pretty good examples. What immediately comes to mind is all of the social media work from DHL. They do a pretty good job on social media by putting some of their employees on the focus and not just management. In addition to that, the Frankfurt Airport does an excellent job of giving a look behind the scenes. 

There is an entire initiative that is called the heroes of logistics. It is an association, and they put the story of one logistics hero at the forefront and tell the story of what their job entails. Their mission is to create a better image for all the different logistics jobs. And there are many many different jobs. Maybe some of them don’t sound like they are super luxurious or privileged or might not be the most fun job that you could imagine. But they want to shine a different light on those jobs and show people that it is actually much more fun to work in these specific jobs than maybe what their image tells you.

The prejudice of blue-collar or logistics is that it is rather male dominated. But the reality often shows that there are more women than you expect. Do you also see that they are aiming towards women?

Nora: Yes, for sure. If you look at the best practices, and you do see more diversity when it comes to the entire group of people. I think that is very important because if you do look at a logistics center like you said, you see a very diverse group of people working there. And it’s not just the typical man that you might imagine.

As you mentioned earlier, there are not enough people in the market who want to work in logistics while there is an increasing demand for employees. Is it, therefore, also necessary to attract as many people as possible?

Nora: Absolutely. The current situation in logistics doesn’t look that good. There is a lack of young talents, and a lot of vacancies are not filled. There is a huge need for people working in logistics centers. But also in management, for example, or especially in IT. Logistics also needs IT, but IT is one of those groups of people that can choose wherever they want to work, so how do you attract those people to work in logistics? It’s very different and challenging. And like I said, many jobs in logistics have such a bad image. It is hard physical work, and the pay rates are not high. You work in shifts, and all those things are not making these jobs seem attractive at first.

Younger talents are not necessarily just looking for a job that pays their bills. They are looking for a job that has meaning, or that gives them the feeling that they are doing something good and fulfilling. 

And logistics has to go down that road and also try to figure out what makes it so interesting for those people and how we can change that image that everybody perceives.

For all possible applicants out there, why should they join logistics?

Nora: First of all, it is a super interesting niche because it’s so international. The group of employees is mostly coming from different countries and cultures and thus is really diverse. Furthermore, most of those logistics companies are operating worldwide with logistics centers all over the world. 

A lot of companies are not just doing their daily work like packaging things and then sending them on their way. They also explicitly choose the companies that they are working with. That gives employees a chance to interact with great products, too. 

Additionally, we are trying to figure out how we can make logistics more sustainable. Lots of innovations are currently happening.  

And now, in times like these, you also see a focus on supply chain and logistics because we have to figure out how we can supply the world even though we’re in a crisis. So some exciting aspects in logistics are changing or ever-changing and you would be a  part of that. 

Without logistics, without the supply chain, there’s nothing in the world of globalization. What you are doing is essential and extremely important. The world would not run without it.

Do you think that it is important that the workers get more respect? They are an essential part of the whole supply chain. For example, they are responsible for the first impression the customer has when they receive the package from the online shop.

Nora: 100 percent, yes! Every company should always think about every single step in the supply chain. Even the person that is bringing your customers the product that you ordered is part of your customer success story. 

This is one of the many reasons why I see the need that logistic jobs should be treated differently from society and everybody around us. I mean, we see that, like you said, especially right now. Where would we be without all of those people still working so hard for us, doing the essential work which we all need? Society must change their views on those jobs as well.

You said that many logistics companies are already working on employer branding. But probably many other companies haven't started yet. If I am a logistics company and I want to start in employer branding, can you tell me what I should do first?

Nora: The very first thing that every company should do is find your employer brand and live it. Find out what makes you you! What makes your company so unique? What would be interesting for other people to work for your company? Ask your employees and find out what is the image that people have from the company. What do they like, what don’t they like. If you see what people do not like, then you can change those processes and make them better. Be transparent and tell them you are working on these specific things. Tell them you understand they don’t like shift work, or they don’t like overtime. But you’re working on those topics. You have to make your existing employees your ambassadors.

Then build your employer brand around those things that you have found out. 

Tell the true stories of your employees and do not exaggerate. Once you hire people, they will see that you might have done gigantic storytelling on social media or your website. Everything looks fantastic, fabulous, and exciting. Once the new employees start working, they will find out what the truth is anyway. So again, it is essential to find the employer brand that you already have, work on it and then live it. That is how you keep your employees, and that’s how you hire new employees. One example of a good story could be the first day in the company: It is very, very important to have a good onboarding process. What do people experience once they start working for your company? How does that look like, do they have a mentor and who is taking their hand during that process? Do they meet all the different departments and get to know the people working for that company? 

Once you have done that, you must bring together HR and marketing. A lot of HR departments are doing most of the employer branding. But without the marketing department, you don’t get all of those interesting things out there. Use your social media channels, your newsletter, your website… Use the knowledge of your marketing colleagues to get the message to the applicants. 

Now you have your employer brand in place. The next thing you should consider is to change your application and the recruiting process. You can create recruiting videos by telling the stories of your employees. You should have a career page on your website because that is the number one thing that people look at when they want to work somewhere. If they see somewhere that you’re hiring, most of the people are going to the website to get a feeling for the company. The career page should have more than just job listings because you want to present your employer brand. You can also write a blog specifically for employees and those people you want to hire. You should use the job portals for recruiting, where your target audience is. An image film can also be a great measure. You can interview your employees for that to make it more appealing. 

I also advise companies to take place in employer branding events. There are a lot of events out there where companies can present themselves to get people to apply for their jobs. As I said, it is switching to an employee market, and so you have to appeal to those employees to make yourself interesting for them. So they choose to apply for the jobs that you offer.

Many employees in logistics are temp workers. Do you see employer branding for temp workers necessary?

Nora: The entire topic of temporary workers is difficult. We have to figure out if that is the way to move forward into the future in general. 

What if a company has good employer branding? Then they don’t necessarily need so many agencies to help them recruit new people, even if it’s for temporary jobs. Because if you do a great employer branding, people come to you. The company I work for that is developing logistics and supply chain software, made that experience as well. We were able to completely cut off all of the agencies because now people are simply applying to us. I’m not saying this is happening for every single company, but I do think that if you do a great employer branding, even temp jobs, might be more easily hired. 

If your company has temp workers, I think it is very important not to hide the fact, but make them part of your entire brand as well. 

Thank you so much, Nora. It was great to talk to you about this topic.
Nora: You’re welcome.

Nora is the Founder of Runaway Redhead, where she supports companies in building communities and digital strategies. She is also co-founder of the community start-up "From Fat to Finish Line" in Los Angeles and works as a digital marketing strategist for Setlog Group, a software company in the logistics industry. She leads the largest meetup community in the region and with monthly events about IT and marketing topics at "Digital Innovation Ruhr".
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