We all thought Black Friday 2020 was tough - well it has nothing on Black Friday 2021! After the toughest of 20 months and now ‘post pandemic’ (are we post pandemic or is it too early to say… Plan B and all that?) this year is tougher than any. Global shipping issues, labour shortages in all categories, capacity issues everywhere… it could be grim.

But actually it isn’t… it’s challenging and demanding but it’s also what we do in logistics and we love it! I have to say that to see our amazing colleagues in ArrowXL take one blow after another and just keep on pushing is, quite simply, inspiring.

It makes me realise the future is bright for companies that get it right with their people. For me, the people are the thing that makes work both a joy and, at times, frustrating. The exec team in ArrowXL realise what a great culture we are building, but we also know that it remains a work in progress. The right culture is hard won in our sector and easy to lose. It may seem dramatic, but I believe that one wrong conversation or behaviour tolerated can blow it out of the water.

And it’s not all altruistic - the importance of our people in our business success has NEVER been more important than it is in 2021 and will continue to be so in 2022.

Many years ago, the great Peter Drucker, whose work continues to be used by managers worldwide, suggested that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and never has it been truer or more important. Great people, (from temps to managers), are harder than ever to find and keep. Of course, people come to work for a variety of reasons – money of course but other factors are also important and how the company is and what they are about is key.

Drucker also said that ‘the greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence. It is to act with yesterday's logic,’ and this feels incredibly relevant. In simple terms our industry is struggling to attract enough people to meet our needs and so we have to work harder to make the jobs more attractive and our companies great places to work. We have to change. There is absolutely no doubt that the winning companies will be those that ensure culture and engagement are at the heart of everything they do.

For me culture is how we do things and engagement is how we feel about being in this company and these should now be in daily conversations. It’s not about having posters on walls full of visions and values, it’s about leadership behaviours and commitments. There is so much progress around inclusivity in society and this must be reflected in the workplace with a real emphasis on diversity and values. Again, in 2022, acceptance of people’s differences is essential and must be a given in the workplace and anything other than full acceptance must not be tolerated.

I have been in logistics for over 40 years and worked in some amazing companies and met many inspiring leaders who taught me so much. I look to the years ahead with renewed optimism and confidence. This industry we work in and love is an amazing industry. So I have a clear message - choose a job in Logistics, we are good people and you won’t regret it.

Charlie Shiels, chief executive, ArrowXL