HR Innovations Powering Efficiency And Sustainability In Logistics

Sudeshna Sen Sharma, HR Director at Kuehne+Nagel India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, believes that by adopting personalised approaches, logistics companies can empower their workforce to take ownership of their career development, in turn enhancing employee engagement and retention rates


In the dynamic world of logistics, the role of human resources (HR) has evolved significantly, ushering in transformative changes across the sector. Sudeshna Sen Sharma, HR Director at Kuehne+Nagel India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, sheds light on the pivotal HR procedures that have undergone automation, boosting efficiency and precision in the logistics industry. Furthermore, she delves into the critical alignment of skill development with eco-friendly practices, emphasising the industry's commitment to sustainability. 

What HR procedures in logistics have seen the most automation, and how has this impacted efficiency and accuracy? 

In the logistics sector, several HR procedures have undergone significant automation, resulting in substantial improvements in efficiency and accuracy. Logistics HR leaders are actively embracing digitalisation and, in some instances, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to enhance the employee experience. 

The integration of AI into core HR operations, such as onboarding, performance assessment, recruitment and training, has already proven successful in some organisations. Additionally, HR information systems (HRIS) have transformed employee data management, centralised records and enhanced data accuracy while reducing paperwork. Payroll processing benefits from automation, ensuring precise salary calculations, tax deductions and benefits administration, resulting in error-free payments and higher employee satisfaction. Furthermore, learning management systems (LMS) have automated training and development, enabling HR departments to create, deliver and monitor employee training programmes systematically. Automated performance management systems facilitate continuous feedback, goal tracking and performance appraisals, improving employee engagement and development. 

These automated processes offer a plethora of advantages, including the reduction of repetitive and redundant tasks, mitigating the risk of errors and freeing up more time for critical responsibilities. Moreover, it provides valuable data-driven insights that are instrumental in making strategic decisions. Successful automation implementation, however, requires meticulous planning, employee training, and ongoing system maintenance to achieve optimal results.

In light of sustainability concerns, how is the logistics industry aligning skill development with more eco-friendly practices and solutions?

The logistics industry has recognised the growing importance of sustainability and eco-friendly practices, prompting a significant shift in skill development initiatives. Professionals within the sector are now being trained to align their expertise with more environmentally responsible solutions. 

Training programmes are a key component of this effort, where employees are educated on a range of eco-friendly practices. These include energy-efficient transportation methods, waste-reduction strategies and sustainable packaging techniques. Certifications like ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are also encouraged to bolster understanding and implementation of eco-friendly practices. Moreover, the integration of advanced technologies has become vital. Professionals are trained to harness the power of route optimisation software, telematics systems and electric vehicles to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. In addition, logistics companies emphasise the importance of measuring and tracking sustainability metrics such as carbon emissions, energy consumption, and waste reduction. This data-driven approach allows for informed decision-making to minimize environmental impact. 

Can you elaborate on how L&D initiatives are becoming more personalised to meet the unique needs and career aspirations of logistics professionals? 

As logistics companies stand on the threshold of seamlessly integrating technology, a customised approach to learning and development becomes imperative. These skills, intricately aligned with the logistics landscape, will be pivotal, much like the significance of Supply Chain Data Analytics. To bridge the gap between theory and practical application, many logistics companies are forging ‘Academic Collaborations’. 

By partnering with educational institutions, they ensure that graduates possess skill sets finely tuned to meet the shifting demands of the logistics industry. This collaboration not only enriches theoretical knowledge but also translates it into valuable real-world competencies. By adopting these personalised approaches, logistics companies can empower their workforce to take ownership of their career development. This not only enhances employee engagement and retention but also strengthens the overall talent pool within the logistics industry.

At Kuehne+Nagel, we provide a holistic view of people's development. We have an eco-system of trainers, facilitators and experts who run formal and informal sessions for learning. We have an online learning platform that is also available on demand for our employees, instilling a self-learning culture. Globally, extensive service action training has been rolled out for all colleagues working in our customer care locations. Our employees receive extensive training to improve their skills at the regional level.

What are some KPIs or metrics used to assess the effectiveness of L&D programs in the logistics industry, and how these metrics have driven improvements? 

Embracing a culture of continuous learning can help logistics companies adapt to shifting market demands, foster innovation and retain top talent in today's fast-paced and competitive business environment. It takes deliberate leadership and HR team efforts along with workforce professional development strategies to create a culture of ongoing learning and development. Several key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics are used to gauge the impact of these programs, driving continuous improvement. 

Employee Skill Proficiency: Measuring the improvement in employees' skills and competencies is a fundamental KPI. Tracking their proficiency in logistics-specific areas like inventory management, route optimization, or compliance ensures that L&D programmes are delivering tangible value.

Employee Performance: Assessing changes in employee performance metrics provides a direct link between L&D efforts and operational outcomes.

Employee Satisfaction: Gathering feedback through surveys or feedback forms gauges employee satisfaction with L&D initiatives.

Together, these KPIs and metrics offer a holistic assessment of L&D programme effectiveness. Consistent monitoring and analysis of these indicators serve as drivers for ongoing improvements, pinpointing areas in need of adjustments or enhancements.

In what ways is HR contributing to fostering diversity and inclusion within the logistics industry, and how does this impact talent acquisition and retention?

Human resources (HR) play a pivotal role in fostering diversity and inclusion within the logistics industry, and these efforts have a profound impact on talent acquisition and retention. HR leaders are actively implementing strategies to create diverse and inclusive workplaces, recognising that this not only reflects societal values but also brings numerous benefits to the industry. A proactive D&I approach attracts a diverse range of candidates, strengthen the talent pool. Furthermore, inclusive workplaces with equal opportunities and supportive cultures reduce turnover, as employees feel valued and are more likely to stay. 

To support this, we have taken concerted steps to ensure that we do not have any discriminatory requirements in our recruitment adverts. In addition, we have incorporated a diversity and inclusivity module as part of our face-to-face training for hiring managers. This has been rolled out since last year with much success and will be incorporated into our new online training module for hiring managers moving forward. 

We have also developed our diversity and inclusion policy as a guiding document. Localised processes have been implemented to address workplace-related discrimination cases. As part of promoting gender equality in the workplace, we have committed to doubling female representation among our senior management by 2030.   


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