Advancement opportunities: The big conversation for 2022

June 21, 2022

What does advancement really mean in the workplace? The pandemic emphasized 'softer' qualities – a sense of care, understanding and maneuverability with difficult situations, taking time off at short notice or simply having someone there to listen. Companies were wise to refine their emotional support, giving people more leeway as we adapted to a new world.

Now though, currents have shifted again for warehouse leadership. Our annual logistics study, the Voice Of The Blue Collar Worker (VBCW), shows that soft promises are less appealing in 2022. Workers are more receptive to concrete advancement: the ability to move up in an organization while enjoying benefits in their contract.

Professional advancement is therefore taking up a greater part of the logistics conversation in 2022. Diving deeper into the stats, we see an urge for employers to help people learn on the job and reward them for it. This may have major implications for your own hiring plan.

What really earns loyalty?

Last year, warehouse employees had very different concerns. The 2021 edition of the VBCW revealed the top five answers to a section that asked US workers what they value the most in a long-term role. Here's what they said:

Care about my growth (15%)
Culture, values and respect (13%)
Advancement opportunities (12%)
Understanding my obligations beyond work (11%)
The chance to learn new skills (10%)

These concerns were largely ephemeral, leaning more on personal qualities than anything specific to a job and career. 'Advancement opportunities' are still #3, but were edged out by concerns for growth and respect. Simply put: workers wanted empathy. Commitments to health, mental wellbeing and flexible shifts could all support that, but the result was harder to pin down.

The survey for 2022 tells a different story . . .

Advancement opportunities (20%)
Flexible work schedule (15%)
401(k) provision (15%)
Health insurance contributions (13%)
Understanding my obligations beyond work (10%)

Cultural values have dropped out entirely. In their place rush offers you can add to every hire with timelines, numbers and benefits schemes.

How to enhance 'harder' advantages

The VBCW makes it clear that employees want more defined propositions for how they're going to rise in a hierarchy, cushioned by financial and insurance pledges. You may want to rethink how these benefits are communicated in a job post, prioritizing them above your values and the 'feel' of working there.

For existing employees, consider new training schemes. Shadowing is an effective plan for cross-development – the trainee acquires new knowledge, and the teacher is able to hone their leadership skills. Courses and seminars are another tool for personal development. If you fund them yourself, you're giving the worker a measure of support beyond encouragement.

Meanwhile, 401(k) agreements – which give tax breaks to retirement contributions – are worth exploring, because they put the power in your workers' hands. Unlike a pension, they're 100% responsible for savings. It's a good way to teach someone about financial responsibility as they build their future with your company.

Eager to download and read the 16th annual VBCW report? Get your free link here.