Staffing solutions provider Workforce Staffing’s country manager for Botswana Jimmy Samuels says the freight, logistics and warehousing industry is vital to South Africa’s economy, as many other sectors depend on it to operate.
Constantly advancing technologies in this industry create a significant demand for workers who perform a range of functions, including working with heavy-duty equipment such as materials handling equipment.
Samuels points out that the most prevalent demand for workers in the freight, logistics and warehousing industry is for lower-income positions, such as drivers, assistants, and pickers and packers.
He says that people in this income bracket are more vulnerable to socioeconomic challenges, compared with higher-income earners.
Such challenges include poorer-quality housing and a lack of access to adequate sanitation, says Samuels. This, in turn, makes people working in the lower-income jobs more vulnerable, which has recently been highlighted by Covid-19.
“The pandemic has led to a high staff turnover and a loss in productivity. Losing a trained and experienced driver, for example, causes a lot of downtime. A new driver has to know the products, clients, processes and procedures. This can cause financial losses for any company in the long term,” he clarifies.
Samuels states that Workforce Staffing has noted an increase in demand for staff by food transporters, as many employees have had to take leave because of their being affected directly or indirectly by Covid-19.
He notes that the company’s operations personnel have been providing suitable, trained staff for positions on short notice, thereby ensuring a continuation of operations at all levels.
The company has also been classified as an essential service provider in terms of the Disaster Management Act 2002.
“Our management and staff have been proactive in ensuring that essential services have been operating under lockdown. For many of our clients, we have been instrumental in ensuring the continuation of their services. We have proven that we can operate in any circumstance.”
Samuels highlights that Workforce Staffing has assigned about 10 000 workers – including drivers, materials handling operators, administrative and clerical functionaries, supervisors and managers – to companies in the local freight logistics and warehousing industry.
“As we provide a total human resources (HR) solution, we ensure that our company and client is legally compliant in terms of HR and industrial relations policies and legislation.”
Workforce Staffing is a division of The Workforce Group, a Workforce Holdings company that offers clients a variety of benefits such as training, healthcare, employee benefits and financial services and maintains a regularly updated database for all categories of workers for immediate identification and vetting.
Technology, Transparency and Staffing
Samuels highlights improved customer service, transparency and technology as important elements in finding staffing solutions in the freight, logistics and warehousing industry.
He points out that customers often want full transparency regarding the movements of their goods, and how those goods are moving through the supply chain until the point of delivery.
While customers increasingly expect this level of transparency, and the advanced technology required to allow for this offering, they are becoming less willing to pay for fast shipping, he adds.
This creates a strain for logistics companies to offer these advanced, and often expensive, solutions while operating on slimmer profit margins from reduced revenue.
Samuels emphasises that the need for transparency and advanced technology makes the technological solutions and transparency that Workforce Staffing offers to customers vital.
“Our cutting-edge technology enables clients to have access to an integrated system that enables them to monitor and manage their workers and the hours they worked. This also includes HR and industrial relations, as well as medical and compliance records.”
With Workforce Staffing having been in operation for 48 years, servicing local industries, it constantly develops the technological aspects of its business, adds Samuels.
“We provide not only access to our technological advancements, but also technology to some of the workers that we assign to be employed by our clients. For example, we are developing an electronic platform where workers that are assigned to and employed by our clients receive their payslips directly on their smartphones.”
Workers employed by Workforce’s clients will also be able to raise queries about salaries through this platform without having to go to an operations office to lodge a query, thereby improving productivity.
“There will always be demand for technology-related skills, and demand will increase as its advancement continues. Any company that does not invest in technological advancements will get left behind and stagnate,” he concludes.