5 things to look out for when planning transportation in 2024. A conversation with Agnieszka Zielinska, Organizational Development Partner at Sales and Operations, about the challenges of recruiting in an era of recession and high competitiveness among transportation companies.

What is Transport for 5’s?

A series of 5 interviews that will provide you with useful knowledge in a nutshell over the next 5 months. Statements from 5 experts in the transportation, shipping and logistics industry will help you plan safe transportation while optimizing its costs. What to follow? What to pay attention to? We invite you to read!

Agnieszka Zielińska – an expert with many years of experience in managerial and director positions in the field of HR, development and education, former academic teacher, author of scientific publications and articles in the field of education and HR topics. For several years she has specialized in building and developing sales and operations teams in the TSL industry, as well as in effective human capital management and strategic business support. Her professional passion is attracting and developing talent, responsible for creating lasting relationships with clients, based on professional solutions in the area of sea, road and air transport. Privately, she is a lover of travel, those small and large, and a master gardener who takes matters into her own hands when she needs to trim the lawn or replant a tree.

NWIC: Agnieszko, could you give us an overview of what role an Organizational Development Partner plays in the sales and operations department of a transportation company and what challenges they face in the recessionary shipping market?

Agnieszka: My main role as an Organizational Development Partner and HR Business Partner at a transportation company is to support the company’s strategic goals through effective human resources management. In times of recession in the freight forwarding market, a key challenge is to keep employee motivation and engagement high, as well as effective recruitment and retention, which is essential to remain competitive. It is also important to build flexible teams that can quickly adapt to changing market conditions.

The transportation industry has been facing employee turnover for the past few years due to the saturation of the market with transportation and shipping companies and access to a wide range of competitive job offers. Analyzing and observing such a state of affairs, I constantly develop and implement effective strategies for developing and retaining talent in the organization. Transportation, freight forwarding and logistics is an industry that requires skillful management of a diverse team that includes people with different qualifications and competencies. This requires highly developed communication skills and an appropriate approach to managing diverse teams. The enormous dynamics of work, often associated with the unpredictability of events, requires employees to be highly resistant to stress, have the ability to make quick decisions and multitask, which in the long run can lead to fatigue, or even professional burnout, so I constantly monitor the well-being of my employees.

NWIC: What values do you think are most important in a logistics-oriented company and what initiatives to promote organizational culture can be implemented?

Agnieszka: Certainly, values such as trust, innovation, cooperation and responsibility are key. Each of these values seems obvious and universal, but they play an important role in ensuring the smooth operation of the company and creating a work environment in which employees can grow and succeed.

Complex logistics processes require seamless coordination of activities between different departments and teams, often in a dispersed structure, so in addition to the hard procedures associated with the operation of processes, trust and mutual cooperation are absolutely essential, as operational efficiency depends on them.

In the HR area, I undertake numerous initiatives, such as mentoring programs, cross-departmental projects and team-building events, which support the building of strong bonds between employees, and this translates into the quality of cooperation and mutual trust.
The same values guide us at every step of our cooperation with our Customers and Partners, their trust in us is built not only by taking care of the quality of services provided and optimization of processes, but also by relationships based on trust, which requires us to be transparent, honest and cooperative in many areas.

The market is constantly evolving and obliges the introduction of modern technologies and supply chain management methods, so innovation is an essential element in organizations in our industry. Companies must be open to change and ready to invest in technological development. Developmental courage ensures that companies take their business to the next level, hence we are constantly nurturing this development, through, among other things, workshops on new technologies or training programs on digitalization of processes. Encouraging employees to think creatively and follow the mindset of innovation, we develop their competencies while fostering a sense of value within the team.

Responsibility in logistics has many dimensions – from responsibility for delivering goods on time, to attention to the quality of customer service, to environmental responsibility. As an HR Business Partner, I try to promote individual and collective responsibility within the company, through such things as quality management training, environmental initiatives such as CO2 reduction or recycling, and CSR programs.

Here it is also worth mentioning that promoting organizational culture can include:

  •  employee development programs, training and certification, which helps not only to improve skills, but also to increase employee commitment and loyalty.
  • workshops on soft skills, such as communication, stress management, teamwork and leadership, which are key in the dynamic logistics industry.
  • team-building initiatives, joint projects, team challenges, as well as company events such as company outings, team-building or celebrating successes together, building stronger ties and fostering cooperation.

NWIC: In your opinion, do the actions taken in the HR area translate into optimization of sales and operational processes in the company?

Agnieszka: Definitely. I always see the source of success of an organization in a person. Hence, when opening the doors of the company to new talent, I always take care not to lock them into the established and established patterns of the company’s operation, but to create space for them to share their knowledge and experience, which the company can use to improve the quality of processes, both in the sale of our services and in their implementation. Therefore, in addition to employee development based on internal or external training, I try to support managers in realizing the full potential of the new talent in their team. We implement, train and help them adapt in their new workplace, but also draw on the knowledge and experience that the new employee brings themselves.

NWIC: Ready for the question we ask each of you? How do I find a trusted logistics company for my business, avoiding mistakes and disappointments?

Agnieszka: I’m not coming up with anything new here that you haven’t heard before.

If you are a potential client, check how long the company has been in business and its experience in serving the industry you yourself are in. Companies with a long track record usually have developed and proven processes, as well as greater resources, which guarantees reliable service and good long-term cooperation. Also look for reviews and testimonials from other customers who have used the services of a particular logistics company. Positive reviews and recommendations can be a good indicator of service quality and satisfaction. Make sure the company has the appropriate quality certifications, such as ISO, IFS and meets industry standards. These certifications demonstrate a commitment to maintaining quality service and compliance.
Make direct contact to discuss the details of cooperation. During the conversation, pay attention to the way they communicate, their flexibility and their willingness to adapt to the specific needs of your business. And as an HR’er by vocation, I’ll say: it’s always worth meeting, getting to know the company, feeling its pulse and employee atmosphere, because if these are healthy, healthy is the whole body.

NWIC: The future of HR in the transportation industry through your eyes is? Do you have any advice for those looking to advance in this direction?

Agnieszka: The future of the logistics industry will probably see further digitization and automation of various processes, as well as the growing importance of data analytics in HR decision-making. Developing competencies related to change management and building flexible and resilient teams will also be decisive. But one must always remember that a company, however, is first and foremost ordinary yet unique people, and in this constant technological and increasingly competitive rush for success, one must not forget that it can be achieved together, both on a company-wide and individual level.

I always say jokingly that HR is not a job, but a ministry, so I wish all HR employees – not only in the logistics industry – similar passion and daily attentiveness, so that ultimately when celebrating the successes of the organization, we can also celebrate the successes of the employees.

NWIC: Thank you for the interview.

Agnieszka: I also thank you very much😊

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