- DHL Supply Chain plans to hire 7,000 associates through the end of 2020 to help handle the traditional peak holiday season and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the carrier announced last week. About 6,000 of the seasonal jobs at DHL will be in e-commerce fulfillment roles like picking and packing with another 1,000 in the company's broader business.
- "This year, with an accelerated shift toward e-commerce, non-retail industries potentially seeing a resurgence in pent-up demand, and consumer goods and life sciences and healthcare companies continuing to ramp up their production capabilities, many of our customers are facing their most unpredictable fourth quarter ever," CEO of DHL Supply Chain North America Scott Sureddin said in a statement.
- The logistics provider also plans to build up its automation infrastructure with a commitment to expand to 1,000 LocusBot collaborative robots by the end of the year.
Each year, thousands of workers pour into temporary logistics jobs to help handle the labor-intensive process of making sure a surge in holiday volume makes it to the final destination on time.
The pandemic has added a new complication this year, as companies involved in e-commerce must bring on additional labor while ensuring proper social distancing measures.
Some sites are doubling or tripling the size of the workforce, said Kraig Foreman, the president of e-commerce at DHL Supply Chain North America. "You have to make sure there is infrastructure in place to bring everyone in safely," Foreman said.
DHL expects automation to help in this area. Its supply chain operations and engineering teams have redesigned processes and infrastructure to add capacity, it said in the release, specifically highlighting collaborative robots as a resource that will help to handle increased volume while maintaining safety protocols.
Changes to facilities will vary by location but include spreading out pack stations, adding entrances with temperature stations and putting up plexiglass barriers, Foreman said.
At the same time as workforce needs grow, hiring has become more difficult as increased funding from the federal government made unemployment "more viable" and some workers aren't comfortable with working in a pandemic and the increased safety measures that result from that like wearing a mask, Foreman said. The renewal of the federal government's additional funding will change how the carrier approaches hiring, he said.
Some of the company's traditional marketing techniques for hiring during peak aren't an option this year, like advertisements before a movie. But many industries have been impacted by large numbers of layoffs or furloughs due to the pandemic, so DHL is actively looking to find workers who may have been impacted and are interested in seasonal work, Foreman said.
A lot of the dialogue that DHL is currently having with customers is about expectations for peak season as everyone is currently trying to forecast demand in a peak season like none other. It's taken the carrier back to basics.
"Historically, we go into peaks ... with 70% science, 30% crystal ball in our forecasting methods and been relatively close in knowing what to plan for," Foreman said. "This year, I think we've gone back almost 10 years and are inverting those ratios and we're probably 70% crystal ball, 30% science. That's what we're all focused on trying to figure out with our customers: what to build for."