Flexing Up for Peak with Warehousing, Transport and Delivery Services
“The relationship has been built on trust in our contingent staffing capability. Wherever the client experiences acute staffing challenges, the flexibility and reliability of our service can always be depended upon.”
- Dan Topping, Blue Arrow Account Manager
The client’s biggest staffing challenge comes in the form of meeting the demands of the Christmas peak season with the sheer scale of the increase to the volume of letters and parcels being delivered over the relatively short festive season.
The competitive nature of the employment market at this time of year poses a stiff challenge for both the client and Blue Arrow in recruiting a temporary workforce with the right skills. With the jobs market saturated with opportunities from late-September to early January, having the right recruitment partner to pull on existing jobseeker market conditioning, is vital to a successful peak season.
Supporting the client’s seasonal recruitment drive is an intensive process beginning with sourcing staff in a fiercely competitive jobs market, where speed to hire can be as important as the pay rates on offer. Proactive and diligent management from the start to the end of the peak season to accommodate staff unavailability and ensure staff attrition is minimised to meet the full staffing needs of the client’s service.
Through the Blue Arrow National Account Manager, a close understanding of the client’s business and challenges sits at the heart of how the operational service delivery is coordinated to truly complement the client’s own Flexible Recruitment team efforts. From August, the Blue Arrow Account Manager collaborates with the client’s team to establish a forecast of the staff levels needed to meet the uplift in postal and distribution demand for the upcoming Christmas season.
During this time, the Account Manager coordinates all geographically relevant Blue Arrow Branch teams through Branch Managers to create a view of local workforce insights that build a picture of the value proposition required to compete for best available talent. These same teams start to mobilise their local talent acquisition strategies which are reinforced by an overarching digital marketing campaign devised by the Blue Arrow marketing team.
The result of this collaboration is an 8-week programme of candidate attraction activity geared towards the first staff intakes in mid-October.
Activity is tracked against forecasted numbers and reported to the client’s Flexible Recruitment team on a weekly basis, identifying performance of the talent pipeline and highlighting potential areas of risk to supply.
From mid-October, a hybrid of real-time dashboard reporting and daily updates are used to give a timely view of the new-starter, attendance and attrition levels. The quality of the insights shared support a highly responsive approach to local fluctuations in postal service demand.
The local Blue Arrow branch quickly understood the impact of lockdown on the local community, placing a variety of individuals into refuse collection roles.
A deep understanding of the client’s requirements and its culture, combined with use of the online platform allowed Blue Arrow’s recruitment team to source quality candidates quickly, simplifying sorting and selection of CV’s and completing registration in as little as 30 minutes, a process that would take much longer if handled manually. Successful candidates were immediately slotted into available shifts or held on a shortlist for imminent release of new requirements, enabling the Council’s workforce demands and collections’ standards to be sustained during the crisis.
Blue Arrow was able to draw on its pre-existing talent community by sourcing candidates from roles and industries where there was high displacement of reliable temporary workers. The diverse intake included owners of companies forced to close, airline staff, taxi drivers, chefs, and HGV drivers from other sectors. Many grew to love the work and remained with the Council post-lockdown.
Rapid time to hire resulted in SMS campaigns being the principal contact medium achieving the fastest and greatest open and response rates by interested candidates. Integration with our e-recruitment system meant that we could run SMS campaigns that automated much of the application and registration process, reducing the total time to hire. It also helped mitigate some of the impacts of not being able to meet all candidates face-to-face. Together these two elements helped the recruitment team to engage quickly with successful candidates and get them ready to start their first day at work.
From January to September, Blue Arrow operates to a baseline supply of 120-150 workers at any one time. During October to December, there is a four-fold increase peaking at circa 650 staff a day, with the biggest increase in Postal Sorters followed by Van Drivers and Postal Delivery workers. Warehouse and Administration staff also increase in volume.
Each year Blue Arrow’s investment in technology helps us find better and faster ways to flex-up as needed by the client’s postal services.
This approach has continued beyond seasonal peaks throughout 2020, with increased temporary staffing demand arising out of COVID-19 related absence and sickness. Again, it was the flexibility and reliability of Blue Arrow’s talent support that was able to support pockets of four times the number of Postal Sorters required during March – May of this year compared with the same period in 2019.