During the peak Christmas season, from November to early January, Blue Arrow was appointed to provide temporary drivers to assist with deliveries.
Working under the constraints of Covid-19 added to the stresses of the company’s busiest season. The amount of E-commerce orders increased dramatically in the period compared to the previous year, owing in part to the pandemic and usual Black Friday and Cyber Monday demand. With a rise in sickness and isolations as a result of the pandemic, there was also more pressure on permanent delivery.
Over and above the delivery of seasonal goods, there was a requirement for weekend drivers to distribute Covid-19 test kits and letters, operating to tight deadlines.
In a normal year, the number of drivers required during the Christmas season is around 200. Blue Arrow were asked to increase the planned supply of temporary drivers to 450 to address the increased volume in seasonal and Covid-19 related demand. The Blue Arrow recruitment team was able to source the additional 250 drivers in line with the planned volume. As the 2nd lockdown impacted the market, however, delivery volumes spiked. In response, the recruitment plan was brought forward by two weeks with an additional 200 drivers sourced to meet demand, rising to a total of 700 drivers at peak point.
The geographical spread was also a challenge. Covering the whole of Scotland, the project entailed the recruitment of drivers across multiple sites, including hard to reach rural locations in the highlands and outlying islands.
With one of the best branch networks in the country, Blue Arrow secured the status of sole/preferred supplier. The scope of Blue Arrow’s presence in Scotland is extensive, with 6 regional offices providing comprehensive coverage across the region, from Bellshill, Glasgow, Livingston and Edinburgh to Inverness and Aberdeen.
This superior reach enabled recruitment teams to mobilise quickly and to exploit their local presence to achieve 98.5% fulfilment in a lockdown situation in just a few weeks, covering the full range of sites to include remote locations.
Blue Arrow’s comprehensive database and sourcing centre was used to reach existing applicant communities of registered, competent and available candidates, qualified to drive ‘last mile’ Category B vans and express courier vehicles. The service provider’s advanced technology enabled recruitment teams to fulfil the client’s requirements by auto-matching available talent with work opportunities using a five-point grading system. Ensuring that the right gaps in staff are filled with the right people, the fulfilment plus system from Blue Arrow assesses potential candidates based on their experience of working with the client, their skills and experience including legal compliance, their proximity to the work location and their availability to cover the required hours in determining the best match for specific assignments. From this point, successful candidates can then be interviewed and on-boarded very quickly.
The shortlist included candidates in the talent pool displaced from their normal occupation due to the pandemic who could demonstrate the required capabilities and associated transferrable skills. This included a range of personnel, from taxi drivers, welders, medics and hospitality staff through to offshore workers plus the now-famous Wellerman!
All the applicants welcomed the chance to stay employed and demonstrated a shared commitment to being a vital part of the Covid-19 response as ‘key-workers’, in addition to taking pride in their role as a strong ambassador of the client. Quality Supply
With Covid-19 restrictions imposing a home working regime on staff and applicants, all steps of the recruitment process from sourcing and interviewing to vetting, final selection and agreeing start dates were carried out online. Those furloughed or made redundant were encouraged to move occupation, with the change presented as a replacement income opportunity. The team delivered a full induction, talking new employees through a typical day to reassure them of the safety measures put in place to protect them in a pandemic situation.
Working with the client, key worker letters were allocated to all drivers providing evidence of permissions to work and move about during periods of travel restrictions due to lockdown and regional tiering systems.
Blue Arrow achieved a 98.9% fulfilment rate for all temporary staffing vacancies over the peak period from November to January. This included managing a 911% increase in timesheet hours compared to the previous year, while working remotely to comply with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
The original agreement was for 450 drivers to meet the early start to the Christmas delivery period, with fulfilment achieved in the first two weeks. This increased to 700 drivers within three weeks, resulting in up to 250 more vans out delivering every day in the build up to Christmas.
From late November 2020 to Early January 2021 (weeks 34-41), temporary staffing supported the delivery of almost seven million additional items across the whole of Scotland, up 47% from the same time during the previous year. This included a 60% increase year on year in tracked parcels, equating to two million items, an additional 4.5 million letters and parcels, up 46.7% on the previous year and an increase of 16,000 (14.8%) in priority delivery items.
Results were achieved at a time when Blue Arrow’s own operations were undergoing a massive shift from a primarily office-based business to home working. Leveraging and adapting existing technology platforms to attract, select and onboard competent drivers gave recruitment teams the edge needed to fully manage the situation to deliver the required outcomes.
“With one of the strongest agency driver networks in the country, we were confident in our ability to support our client with their unprecedented demand. However, our performance surpassed even our bold expectations, delivering near-perfect fulfilment rates, contributing greatly to Scotland’s Covid-19 response.”
- Jason Richards, Senior National Account Director