Clipper Logistics makes a Fresh Start

Clipper Logistics makes a Fresh Start

Two ongoing talking points within the logistics industry as a whole are labour shortage and diversity; how the industry will combat any labour issues as a result of Brexit and how to diversify a traditional industry.

National logistics specialist Clipper Logistics has found a way of tackling both labour shortage and diversity through its Fresh Start campaign, which since July 2018 has brought on board 120 employees from minority backgrounds, including the rehabilitation of ex-offenders back into the workplace.

Talent in Logistics want to use this as an example to other businesses of how they can achieve similar results, and also provide inspiration for entries into the 2019 Talent in Logistics awards.

Clipper's Head of Talent Acquisition Jennifer Swain talks us through the Fresh Start campaign, its aims and how the company has implemented it successfully:

How did it start?

Around two years ago Clipper set itself the task of developing a group recruitment strategy, which would focus on:

a. Creating a response strategy to the potential labour shortage created by Brexit

b. The responsibility of the business to create a diverse workforce

With a team passionate about increasing diversity across the industry and also supporting and developing those communities local to Clipper, we set about creating a multi-tier strategy.

One of the first groups that we identified was ex-offenders. According to recent statistics, only 25.6% of ex-offenders enter employment after release, meaning that 60% re-offend within two years. We felt we could make a real difference giving hard-working people a chance that others often don’t.

We knew that beyond simply advertising, in order to make the campaign work, we needed to bring in experts that could support both Clipper and the new employees throughout the process.

This is where Tempus Novo got involved, an organisation which specialises in the rehabilitation and re-employment of ex-offenders, making sure they have the confidence and support to re-enter the workplace, as well as supporting the employer in developing  the skills and ability of the individual.

How did it get going?

Following initial conversations with Tempus Novo, who have over 80 years’ combined work experience in prisons, we took steps to taking on potential employees. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced partner like Tempus Novo that are so geared up for helping and offering support, meant that our GMs and Ops managers didn’t have a huge amount of additional workload to manage, so focussed their time on training and integrating the employees to a high standard.

Once the first employees were embedded in the company and we started to see success, we reached out to other partners working with minority groups such as those with disabilities or learning difficulties, full time parents, long-term unemployed, those with mental health issues and retirees.

Working with HR, reasonable adjustments are made where necessary to make sure that the induction is smooth and the foundation for success is set. It’s vital that we make sure our Fresh Start employees feel like they are 100% part of the team, but also that if they have any issues or need extra support, they know it is readily available.

What considerations needed to be made to ensure success?

Preparation, preparation, preparation.

We made sure we gave the initiative the best chance of success by covering all bases, identifying any potential problem areas and putting strategies in place ahead of time. 

Working with specialists was key to the early success of the campaign. With them on-board, it means our new employees have continued and personalised support from someone they trust and existing staff are given the tools to help them reach their potential.

We were very mindful that while we had the best of intentions, putting them into practice and winning over the hearts and minds of our current employees might not be straightforward.

Internally, there was a real balance to be struck with how we announced the initiative to current employees. They needed to be made aware of the changes, but in order to create inclusivity, we had to make sure that new colleagues entered the business as any other new starter would.

In order to placate any potential nerves from existing employees, we recruited internal Fresh Start Champions, individuals at each site that are passionate about the initiative and can act as a beacon of support on the ground and bridge any gaps. This role is also beneficial to their development as they receive mental health, first aid and development training about diversity and inclusion, to enhance their knowledge and skillset.

It’s very important to make sure that with any new additions to the team, the current workforce does not feel disadvantaged, but since the launch of the scheme we have seen incredibly strong comradery across the business. The joy of the Fresh Start employees, to be in a role they enjoy in a stable working environment, really rubs off on the rest of our workforce and it’s brilliant to see them come together to create something so positive.

Results and learnings

Since officially launching the scheme in July we’ve taken on 120 Fresh Start employees across all 28 of our sites, with an impressive 92% retention rate and already six employees promoted. 

My advice to any businesses looking to develop a scheme like this is simply, go for it. The results and benefits for everyone involved have been outstanding. Preparation cannot be stressed enough, make sure you surround yourself with trustworthy partners who know their specialisms inside out and can offer you and your employees initial and ongoing support. 

Good intentions are great, but make sure you put in place all the steps needed to see them through successfully. Involve your current team as much as you can because their support will play a huge part in the success of the scheme. 

Finally, remember that while a larger initial investment of time may be required, the development of loyal and dedicated employees and the potential to make a hugely positive impact on an individual’s life is an incredibly worthwhile reward.

Steve Freer, CEO at Tempus Novo adds: “Working with Clipper Logistics plc on its Fresh Start programme is so rewarding on many fronts, but what really stands out is the innovative approach to recruitment they have developed through offering people from the margins of our society a chance to improve their lives.

“We are proud to be their partner of choice for risk assessing and supporting the ex-offender cohort they employ, and to see people go from a place of desperation and often poverty to a situation where they feel worthy, proud and able to support their families is amazing. Together we are changing lives, reducing reoffending, reducing the number of victims and creating safer streets.“

For more information, please visit www.clippergroup.co.uk or www.tempusnovo.org