Even though unemployment is at all time high finding qualified employees remains a challenge for the logistic industry. The question is how to take untrained applicants and prepare them for success in a new industry. Many companies engage in internship programs and are finding great success. According to Lee Smith from Outsource Logistics “the advantage of an intern is that you have someone full of energy, a willingness to learn and you can mold them into the type of employee that your company needs. If an intern comes in with a strong work ethic and great attitude it generally leads to a job offer. The intern needs to task themselves with adding value to a company in every way possible”. Internships provide more than just future employees, they can also enhance your companies public profile and educate the community about opportunities in logistics.
Creating an internship
Creating an internship program is fairly simple. The first step to creating an internship is evaluating your company’s areas of need and available staff to foster the potential intern. Determine how many interns your company can take at one time and how long a valuable program will take. Keep in mind that the intern should be given an education about the company and what happens there as well as learning a position. Make sure you have all the resources and tools ready to help them make the most of the program.
States may vary on the legal aspect of internship programs and whether they may be considered employees or not. According to theThe Fair Labor Standards Act for an intern to be not financially compensated certain things must be true: A job is not guaranteed when the internship is over, the intern must not be replacing an employee, the intern needs to benefit the most via academic requirements, and the intern clearly understands the terms. In the case the intern does not meet those requirements they will be considered an employee and a pay rate must be determined. Since there are legal problems if an unpaid intern performs work assignments it is generally better to create paid internships. The pay scale should be relative to the purpose of the program. If the internship is merely to educate then a minimum wage may be appropriate. However if the goal is to groom a potential long term employee then it might be advantageous to pay a more competitive rate to attract a stronger candidate.
Setting them up for success
After consulting with your legal team it’s time to set up the core of the program. If the internship is for a college or high school student then educational goals should be in the forefront. All interns should have an orientation and then a tour of the facility. Then they should be given a written guide with policies and expectations. The intern should have a direct supervisor or mentor even if they will be working in different departments and should be given periodic evaluations. If possible they should be given an outline about their daily duties and any projects they will be working on.
Where to find interns
When it comes to finding an intern there are several ways to locate one. There are still traditional routes such as contacting your local colleges (technical or academic) and working with the logistics programs to find motivated interns or hosting a booth at a career. There are also new methods for finding interns. Utilizing web sites like Internships.com or www.collegerecruiter.com is a great place to find interns, most of today’s students are seeking internships though sites like these. Another option is to look for local programs with internships, such as Savannah’s Maritime Education Taskforce (MLET). This mission of MLEt is to educate high school seniors about the logistics and maritime industry. Every year they partner with twenty businesses to place an intern and then they monitor the progress throughout the process.
Coastal Work Source is an organization partnered with the American Job Center network whose main focus is helping businesses find qualified workers. AJCs bridges the gap by providing free help to job seekers in a variety of ways. There are over 2,000 locations in the United States and the Coastal Work Source is Georgia’s version. They specialize in pairing the right employee to a company that fits their skill set and are funded by a myriad of state and federal programs. The range of services they offer job seekers and businesses is quite impressive. Coastal Worksource offers business service representatives that specialize in logistics and work with companies with everything from creating job descriptions to on the job training. The training plan and time frame up to six months is developed in tandem with the representative. Companies are reimbursed 50% of the wages paid to the trainee during the program.
Last week I suggested that existing employees could be trained and promoted into more technical position’s free entry level positions for displaced workers. Another one of Coastal Workforce’s programs can help with this transition as well. They have a program called incumbent worker training that assists with training employees that have been in the workplace for at least 6 months. 100% of the direct training cost may be provided by Coastal Workforce depending on the size of the company.
A great way to backfill some of the more entry level positions is to take advantage of the Work Experience program. The employees have already been trained in a classroom and the program covers the cost of drug screens and background checks. The employer will actually be refunded 100% of the employee’s wages for up to 12 weeks. The employer is not obligated to keep the employee for the duration if they do not work out and on the opposite side of the coin they can extend the time or hire the employee.
The logistic industry can certainly benefit from the boom in applicants if it maneuvers correctly. There are great resources out there to help! If you are in the Savannah, Georgia area contact Coastal Workforce at 912-659-4271 or email them at [email protected] and email can be reached via facebook at https://www.facebook.com/maritimelogisticseducationtaskforce/.
Georgia boasts having the fourth largest port in the nation and now more than ever we are focused on the supply chain in general. One thing the logistic industry has struggled with is to fill vacant positions especially in the last few years with record low unemployment rate. The covid-19 pandemic shuttered businesses and has displaced entire industries of employees, thus swinging the pendulum severely in the other direction. In the past 7 weeks 33 million people have filled for unemployment benefits bringing the unemployment rate to 20%. We have not seen numbers like these since the great depression. The question is how the logistic industry utilizes this shift to not just find talented employees but also retain them when other opportunities present themselves again.
Restructure existing positions
The issue with the newly unemployed is they may have advanced skills in their current industry; however, logistics may be completely new to them. Many of the positions in logistics require technical skills so now might be a good idea to promote from within. Training existing employees to fill advanced roles will free positions in the entry level category. This gives you an opportunity to capture a talented employee who is can be brought up to speed quickly. Now might be a good time to start an internship or training program. There are high school and college seniors who are eager to join the work force and transitioning employees who might feel more comfortable applying if they are certain adequate training will be provided. The WOTC tax credit will apply to more applicants now and will help offset the cost of additional training. These programs would introduce logistics that would motivate those ready to enter and remain in the industry. The more skilled employees can delegate the simpler tasks to the interns allowing them to complete more of the difficult tasks.
Finding the diamonds in the rough
With a sea of candidates, how do you determine which ones to hire? Start with alignment. One of the best features of an entry level logistics position is the room to grow has no limit. If you find someone who values growth with a company or an industry they will flourish. If the industry they came from collapsed they will be looking for a position with growth potential. Many interviews start out with a list of questions and as they wrap up the interview, they ask “do you have any questions for me?”. If you flip that around and start with “before we get started do you have any questions about the company or the position?” that will give the candidate a chance to show you what is important to them. What you want to hear are questions about the potential for career advancement or job security. In addition to direct questions general questions about the team, management and work itself are a good sign. The best hires care about the environment they are going to be working in since they hope to stay long term. When it is time to ask them questions really take the time to find out as much about there core beliefs as you can. Their experience is not as important with a transitioning employee. Determining if they are open to learning a skill and starting from square one is more important in this instance. Especially for candidates that were managers or executives in their past jobs, this will be a major change for them. Ask the candidate to give examples of how they have been able to adapt, grow or embrace change in their last position.
Reaching a new audience
Job boards are a helpful tool in finding employees but relying on job boards may not pull all the possible applicants. This is time to get creative about reaching a broader audience. Facebook has a job section that is easy to access through your business page and can draw in a surprising number of applicants. In addition to the job posting it is a good idea to post about open positions on the man page as well and encourage your audience to share it with their network. Now is a good time to use the boost feature to reach past your network. Two ways to really drive results is to offer a referral program or promote a job fair with “same day hiring process”. Another way to appeal to those who have been out of work for some time is to offer more immediate pay. Typically, people will have to wait two weeks for a paycheck and that can present challenges for those who have taken a finical hit. Paying for transportation to work, new work clothes and lunches away from home may be a struggle for some employees. There are a few different ways employers could appeal to candidates. Company’s could offer next day or weekly pay, provide a gas card for a new hire or provide employee meals for the first week or two.
Retention is the name of the game
Hiring right now has never been easier, but how do you keep those new hires once they have more options? Proper onboarding is a key to keeping employees’ long term. Statistically more than 50% of employees leave their job in the first and site lack of training as the reason. Introduce employees to the company, remind them of the benefits of staying with the company long term and engage them with other employees who have been promoted from within. Check in with new employees often to make sure the foundation of their employment is solid. Recognize employees good work, every level of employee wants to be shown they are appreciated. Employees who feel valued work harder and stay longer. If the candidate came onboard based on room to grow, make sure to they can achieve that. Offer ongoing training and provide promote from in opportunities to keep your staff motivated and loyal.
The covid-19 virus has impacted our way of life in so many negatives ways and that makes finding silver linings crucial. The logistic industry has taken hits as well, but in general has fared better than many industries and people looking for stability will now gravitate towards logistics. Finding and keeping great employees is a challenge we can overcome during this difficult time, take the opportunity to enhance your staff and help people flourish in a new industry.