Flexibility is now a strength in your workforce

June 27, 2022

Flexible shifts have been influencing the logistics space for a while, just like similar expectations in other disciplines. However, you may not realize the true value workers find in freer, more personal shift patterns. Our 16th annual Voice Of The Blue Collar Worker (VBCW) report puts this trend in perspective.

Amidst a flurry of insights, something new has emerged in our logistics-wide survey. For the first time, most employees list scheduling factors as the biggest reason to stay in their job. It's the top factor for retention and the second most important factor (tied with job security) for candidates on the hunt for a role.

Collected from 19,500 workers participating across the U.S., these results have much to share for your leadership, workforce and hiring propositions. Join us as we dig into the stats around flexibility, and suggest what you can do to respond, keeping your business progressively competitive.

Wages are important, but scheduling is too

Pay remains the largest variable for American employees. 39% of people in the VBCW survey listed it as the defining benefit that tempts them into a role. No surprise there; the talent gap is widening, and logistics businesses are fighting for workers to train and retain. When it comes down to the dotted line, money is inarguable, and makes even more sense with the rising cost of living from recent, disruptive world events.

Yet flexible shifts trump wages when we consider what is most likely to encourage people to stay. 21% of respondents say they are motivated by flexibility more than anything else. If you can give workers the option of taking first, second, third or weekend shifts – based on discussions you have together – they're likely to remain at your side.

Day shifts are the most requested at 70%, followed by evenings (16%), nights (12%) and weekends (2%). Your own workforce may have similar tastes. We recommend a full survey of everyone you're leading, which can then be drawn into a list of priorities for certain shifts and peak seasons. Learn which employees prefer late starts, for instance, versus those who have to be back home in time for childcare. Reward the minority who like weekend work – give them a monthly bonus, discounts or extra holidays. Then make shift patterns an essential part of one-to-one reviews.

Consider gender and shift differentials

The VBCW reveals a slight gender split. Men prefer more intense bursts of work (10 or 12-hour shifts) than women (who like the standard five-day, eight-hour working week). Women are also more likely to value a flexible schedule. Again, your own organization may be different, but these stats demand attention. You will probably have better luck asking men for regular, longer shifts, while giving women stable hours unless they ask you for more themselves.

At the same time, don't fall into a catch-all scenario. These preferences aren't hugely divergent, and it's vital to give women more agency and earning power if they have few domestic responsibilities. Keep the conversation flowing. And bear extra rates of pay in mind too – our study shows that the average differential is $2 per hour for overtime. Make this your starting point, at least, for convincing bonuses. You may want to pay women a little more to make their overtime worthwhile.

Download and read the full VBCW report here.