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Hubbub outlines challenges and opportunities for reusable food and drink packaging

Environmental charity Hubbub has launched ‘Reuse Systems Unpacked’, a report uncovering the challenges and opportunities for reusable food and drink packaging systems.

The report, unveiled at The Royal Society of Arts in the presence of key players in the sector, provides recommendations on how reusable packaging systems can work and what needs to happen for such systems to be used by consumers and become mainstream.

The research was funded by Bunzl and involved in-depth interviews with 40 organisations and individuals in the sphere of reusable food and drink packaging, from start-ups and small-scale trials to big brands and events, as well as people in the fields of policy, academia and logistics, including Tesco, DEFRA, Just Eat and Abel & Cole.

Hubbub also commissioned polling across the UK to gather public opinion on the motivators and barriers to individuals engaging in reuse systems for food and drink packaging.

The survey of 3,000 people shows a clear public appetite to cut down on single-use plastics, with 67% of people saying they want to reduce the amount of single-use packaging they use when buying food and drink products.  73% think more needs to be done to make it easier to use reusable alternatives and 67% said they’d be open to borrowing and returning a reusable container for groceries.

The research also identified the main motivators and barriers to people using reusable packaging schemes for food and drink. Price is the main motivator with 2 out of 5 people saying that being able to use the reusable packaging scheme for no extra cost would encourage them. Earning rewards or discounts for using a scheme, as well as knowing that it reduces waste and is better for the environment than single use packaging, would encourage 38% of the public.

In terms of barriers, concerns that the packaging might not be clean or hygienic was mentioned by 38% of respondents, followed by thinking it might cost more money (31%) and having to carry or store the packaging until it can be returned (27%).

Key recommendations  

Hubbub has identified 10 key recommendations to help reuse systems set up and scale: 

  1. Convenience is key: minimise the friction points and fit into people’s current patterns of behaviour.
  2. Keep the price down: the price needs to be as close as possible to single-use.
  3. Choose the right incentives: they play an important role to encourage use and returns, but deposits can put people off and rewards can lead to over-complication.
  4. Integrate logistics: innovation is needed here, such as creating centralised logistics networks in cities, backhauling through existing systems and developing new washing processes.
  5. Be smart with packaging design: clever design is about more than aesthetics; it integrates tech, encourages returns and reduces the environmental footprint of packaging and transport.
  6. Understand the lifecycle analysis: a consistent process needs to be established to work out the environmental impact of reuse systems in a way that’s accurate and comparable.
  7. Collaborate: a system working across multiple brands, locations and platforms will be more convenient and less confusing for users.
  8. Consider the role of tech: tech can simplify payments, deposit refunds, rewards and tracking usage, but it can complicate the user journey and put off some audiences.
  9. Offer reassurance: the public have concerns around hygiene which can be addressed through a robust washing process supported by good communications.
  10. Support through policy: a range of potential policies, standards, incentives and subsidies would support the growth of reusable systems.

Alex Robinson, CEO of Hubbub, said: “To effectively tackle the issue of packaging waste, reuse must become mainstream. For this to happen, it’s crucial that companies across the food & drink industry, along with policymakers, work together and learn from each other. The ‘Reuse Systems Unpacked’ report is the first of its kind and brings together the findings from existing schemes and systems, along with insight into public attitudes towards reusable packaging. It’s clear the public are hungry for change. We hope this report helps to accelerate progress across the food and drink industry and drives us quickly towards a society where reusable food and drink packaging is the norm.”

James Pitcher, Head of Sustainability at Bunzl plc, said: “It’s been a long-held mantra of Bunzl that the life of packaging does not end at the point of sale and our ambition doesn’t either. We have been using our scale and unique position at the centre of the supply chain to work with our customers and suppliers to lead the industry towards a more sustainable approach to packaging. To move away from a linear mindset to a more circular one we need to understand the opportunities and challenges involved, which is why we’re pleased to have supported this work. The circular economy has to go mass market to be effective and research like this means we’ll understand what’s collectively required to reach a macro-solution sooner.”

Hubbub has extensive experience of encouraging reuse through a series of campaigns and partnerships including the recent launch of the Bring It Back Fund, a £1m fund in partnership with Starbucks to support reusable food and drink packaging systems.

For more information and to read the report, visit www.hubbub.org.uk/reuse-systems-unpacked.

Supply chain crisis sees 85% of businesses move to ‘just in case’ model

Almost every UK organisation admits their supply chain needs improving, and over half (58%) think their supply chain needs a lot/significant improvement.

That’s according to research from SAP, which says that in response, 84% of UK businesses are planning to move on from the 50-year-old ‘just in time’ supply chain model, which prioritised costs above all else when selecting suppliers, to a ‘just in case’ approach. 

The findings from the “Tomorrow’s Supply Chain: Disruption Around Every Corner” report highlights that since the start of the pandemic, supply chain issues have been disastrous for organisations in the UK. 66% of businesses have experienced delays in production of goods/delivery of services, 64% have seen revenues decrease and 58% have experienced a loss of customers.

Given this outlook, it perhaps comes as little to no surprise that almost a quarter (23%) of businesses expect supply chain issues to last until Summer 2023.  

Earlier this year, the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The supply chain crisis felt by so many businesses could in fact provide an impetus for companies to improve productivity, and thus ensuring higher wages are not cancelled out by rising inflation”.  

But the picture for UK businesses tells a different story. For many businesses, increasing the price of their products/services isn’t an option to cover increases in supply chain costs. Instead staff will bear the brunt of any cost rise as 68% expect wage/recruitment freezes and 61% plan job cuts. 

SAP says UK businesses are looking to the government for supply chain recommendations, but they are torn over the advantages and disadvantages of deglobalisation: 

  • 60% of businesses want increased government collaboration with industry  
  • Over half said the government should monitor the UK’s supply chain itself and invest where necessary (56%) and there is demand for increased industrial policy and trade policy (54%) 
  • The majority (72%) of UK businesses think deglobalising the UK’s supply chains would be disastrous to economic growth but over half (56%) plan to prioritise UK-based supply chain solutions. 

Michiel Verhoeven, Managing Director SAP UK & Ireland, said: “The challenges and uncertainty facing so many UK businesses has meant that, for the majority of consumers, the days of wandering into a supermarket and seeing full shelves of produce now seem like a distant memory. 

“Where once supply chain management was mostly about cutting costs, businesses are faced with the challenge of staying ahead of consumer demand, while improving resilience, cutting carbon emissions, reducing staff churn and keeping costs down. Years of political, social and economic uncertainty, on top of a global pandemic, have exacerbated challenges with the UK’s current supply chain models. Whatever future external factors disrupt the movement of goods/ services, our on-demand consumer culture is only going to increase. Overnight shipping is considered late, with hourly tracking updates expected. A novel approach is needed to meet this demand.”  

Global logistics, consulting and manufacturing organisation, Unipart Group, recently announced a deepened partnership with SAP to deliver supply chain resilience and bring to life its extensive expertise in forecasting, Machine Learning, sensors and data & analytics.  

Commenting on the report findings, Unipart Logistics Managing Director, Ian Truesdale, said: “Although deglobalisation and other structural changes to supply chains like re-shoring may help UK economic growth, the changes and hence opportunities are more complex. We are seeing that growth can be increased further by developing a much more sophisticated approach to understanding patterns of demand and the impact of those changes along the supply chain to manage risks and prevent shortages.  

“It’s why we are re-engineering our processes and streamlining our data to focus on process design and governance, operational execution and data & analytics. In doing so we, aim to have the ability to forecast, optimise and simulate supply chains to provide greater agility and resilience,” he added.  

Elsewhere, findings from the study show that UK businesses are exploring various other avenues to improve their supply chains, in particular adopting new technology and implementing new contingency measures: 

  • 70% plan to adopt new technology to help overcome challenges in the next 1-2 years 
  • 51% plan to find new environmentally friendly supply chain solutions 

Michiel concluded: “It is exciting to see so many organisations are realising the importance of investing in advancing technologies to innovate and that are planning to adopt new environmentally supply chain solutions. Resilient supply chains must be sustainable, not only in terms of the environment, but sustainable against developments in technology and infrastructure in the UK and abroad. For decades, supply chain management has focussed on cost – where keeping them lean and fast has been the priority. This is different from being agile and resilient. With the end of ‘just in time’ models, businesses have to start putting the same expectations on their supply chain as they do on their wider business, structuring themselves to be ‘just in case’, so that when disaster occurs, they can adapt. Those who don’t make this change are in for a very tough 18 months.” 

Calls for task force to tackle supply chain resilience

Britain’s manufacturers are calling for a cross-industry and Government taskforce to assess the UK’s current and future supplychain resilience and capabilities, as well as establishing an action plan to protect the economy from any future significant disruptive event.

The call was made on the back of a report by Make UK and Infor, ‘Operating without Borders – Building Global Resilient Supply Chains’, which shows the stark impact on UK manufacturers from the economic shocks of the last two years and the knock-on effects to supply chains from increased energy, transport and raw material costs, as well as transport availability.

The findings also indicate that the longstanding strategies manufacturers have adopted to off-shore in response to globalisation, operating a ‘just in time’ process with virtually guaranteed transport links and low-cost production, have been turned upside down with disruption and increased volatility fast becoming normal.

As a result, this has led to companies significantly increasing the number of suppliers so they have more options in the event of disruption, with these suppliers increasingly sourced back in the UK or Western Europe. Looking forward the report shows these trends were already accelerating in the next two years, to which the invasion of Ukraine and continuing disruption in China are likely to have given further impetus.

According to the survey, the biggest disruptor in the last two years was the pandemic with 93% of companies saying it had caused some form of disruption (for 47% the impact was catastrophic or major) followed by exiting the EU for 87% (for 32% it was catastrophic or major). Over half of companies also said the Suez Canal incident had caused disruption, even though it was blocked for only a week, highlighting the dependence on Far East supply chains.

In response, almost two fifths of companies (38%) said they have increased the number of suppliers in the last two years. Over two fifths of companies (42%) have increased their UK supply base (for almost a fifth it is a significant re-routing) with over a quarter increasing supply from Western Europe, including Turkey.

This trend is set to accelerate with over two fifths of companies (43%) saying they expect to increase UK suppliers in the next two years, with a quarter predicting an increase in suppliers from Western Europe and Turkey. By contrast, over the same period 12% of companies say they intend to reduce suppliers from the Far East.

As well as changing the location of their supply base, manufacturers have also increased the number. Almost a quarter of manufacturers (22%) have between 51 and 100 suppliers, a further 15% between 101 and 200 and 14% having more than 200. This highlights the complexity of supply chains, but also the need to ensure supply chain strategies are put in place along with technologies to monitor them.

Whilst an encouraging number (72%) describe their supply chain strategy as intermediate or advanced, those describing their strategy as basic tend to be SMEs with a clear link between the more advanced strategy companies operate and the number of suppliers. Furthermore, when it comes to implementing digital supply chain solutions manufacturers for the most part only have a limited or basic focus (28% for both).

However, at the other end of the scale, a fifth of companies say they have an advanced digital strategy and a quarter (24%) intermediate with two thirds of larger firms (64%) at the advanced stage. On a positive note companies are planning to significantly increase their spend on digital supply chain technologies with over two fifths of companies (42%) planning to increase their investment by more than 10% in the next two years.

For those companies who do increase their investment in supply chain technologies, the benefits are clear in terms of faster response times (34%), lower inventory costs (28%), greater operational efficiency (28%) and greater cash flow (21%).

In response to the major shocks to the economy and, the likelihood of increased volatility for trading networks being normal in the future, Make UK has made the following recommendations to Government to help ensure the UK economy is in a much stronger position to respond to any future disruptive events. (Extra commentary on each in Notes to Editors)

  • Government should establish a cross-industry and government resilience taskforce.
  • Supply chain software management should be included in the Help to Grow: Digital scheme.
  • Develop and publish public data that reports on lead times of raw materials to help businesses plan ahead.
  • Work with industry to explore how larger firms can provide greater visibility of supply chains at higher tiers to share information with SMEs with limited scope.
  • Introduce capital allowances or a form of tax break for businesses that adopt certain digital solutions such as blockchain.
  • Develop regional institutions and establish long-term initiatives to deliver supply chain support.

Verity Davidge, Director of Policy at Make UK, said: “For decades manufacturers have used increased globalisation and supply chains to drive efficiency and create lean manufacturing processes which have helped them grow and remain competitive. However, the economic shocks of the last few years have created a perfect storm which has turned these models upside down and forced companies to re-evaluate their business strategies and seek suppliers much closer to home.

“As a result, we may now be seeing the era of globalisation passing its peak, with disruption and volatility for global trade fast becoming normal. For many companies this will mean leaving ‘just in time’ behind and embracing ‘just in case’.”

Andrew Kinder, SVP International Strategy & Sales Support, Infor added: “Following a succession of shockwaves – Brexit, Covid and instabilities in Europe – supply chain strategists are examining the vulnerabilities of their supply chains. Long held beliefs in lean, Just-in-Time and off-shoring are being questioned, as volatility and uncertainty replaces predictability and reliability. The rules of supply chain are being re-drawn. Resilience trumps efficiency with winners being those who have been able to rapidly adjust their supply chain strategies to accommodate the succession of shocks.

“Digital technologies play a part in building resilient supply chains and this survey by Make UK provides much needed insights from manufacturers on their response to this new norm and their use of digital to navigate the storm. As a sponsor of this research, we support the recommendation that ‘Supply chain software management should be included in the UK’s Help to Grow: Digital scheme.”

The survey of 132 companies was conducted between 2 and 23 February.

Retail and manufacturing sectors ‘most likely’ to be targeted by a cyber-attack

Health, education, retail, and manufacturing sectors continue to be particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks and data breaches, according to analysis of recently released 2021 ICO data.

CybSafe analysed data from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the UK’s independent body upholding information rights – following its previous analysis of ICO data for the first half of 2021 to discover the details behind the UK’s cyber security breaches throughout the entire calendar year.

While health and education remain particularly vulnerable to data breaches, the retail and manufacturing sector suffered twice as many cyber attacks as either sector, accounting for 20 percent of attacks overall in H2 of 2021.

Statistics within the retail and manufacturing industry also highlight a more general trend. The sector saw an increase in ransomware attacks, accounting for 27 percent of all attacks in 2021, up from 23 percent in 2020. In contrast, phishing attacks declined, falling from 31 percent in 2020 to 26 percent in 2021. This marks the first-time ransomware attacks have superseded phishing within the sector. Throughout 2021, ransomware saw a notable rise, accounting for 30 percent of attacks between July and December, up from 24 percent between January and June.

While the ICO data highlights phishing as the most common form of attack at just under 30 percent, ransomware continues to be an increasing threat to every sector.

As sectors adapt to life post-pandemic, the education sector is a prime example of how the cyber security landscape has changed for good. ICO 2021 data shows ransomware attacks increased to 22 percent (up from 19 percent), suggesting the trend is not subsiding despite children returning to the classroom. The sector saw a steep rise in ransomware attacks mid-way through 2020. They accounted for 26 percent of attacks in the first half of 2021 compared to just 11 percent in the previous year.

Oz Alashe, CEO of CybSafe, said: “The ICO data tells a clear story. The pandemic saw a steep rise in ransomware attacks. With important sectors such as education and healthcare seeing a sustained level of cyber threats throughout the last year, we need to go beyond standard security training practices.

“To embody a security-first culture, the human aspect of cyber security shouldn’t be underestimated. If we want to invoke genuine behaviour change, the first step is to appreciate individuals responding differently to threats, and personalisation is crucial to building an authentic security-first culture.

“Appreciating differences in teams means you can deliver tailored security initiatives. The result is greater employee confidence, changes in security behaviour, and ultimately a defence against such malicious threats that will only grow in importance over the coming years,” Alashe concluded.

UK has second-highest number of B Corps in the world

Research by green energy experts Uswitch has revealed Moodle, an online educational platform designed for distance learning, is the world’s most popular B Corp business, followed by Coursera and TOMS.

B Corp certification is awarded to businesses that meet the highest standards of accountability when it comes to their social and environmental impact, and there are now almost 5,000 B Corp businesses officially achieving B Corp Certification in the world.

The Most Searched For Sustainable Brands

The social and environmental impact of the products we buy, and the companies we buy them from, is now more important than ever to consumers. So, to discover which sustainable businesses are the most well-known around the world, researchers analysed Google search data, to reveal which ones consumers are Googling the most.

Moodle tops the list with over 53.5 million global searches each year. The Australian-based company is hailed as the world’s most popular learning management system and was crucial throughout the pandemic when classrooms were closed.

Coursera, the open online course provider that works with universities to offer qualifications, is second on the list with 35.9 million global annual searches, followed by the sustainable shoewear brand TOMS in third place, receiving over 14.9 million searches every year.

Popular brands such as premium ice-cream manufacturers Ben & Jerry’s and the world’s first carbon-neutral brewery BrewDog also appear in the top 15 most popular B Corp businesses list, ranking in seventh and 15th place respectively.

Top 15 Most Popular B Corps

Rank Company Name Annual search volume
1 Moodle Pty Ltd 53,550,000
2 Coursera 35,930,000
3 TOMS 14,920,000
4 Redbox 14,480,000
5 Athleta, Inc. 13,643,000
6 Warby Parker 11,335,000
7 Ben and Jerry’s 10,281,000
8 Kickstarter PBC 10,257,000
9 Envato 9,384,000
10 Boomera 8,403,000
11 Nature et Decouvertes 6,555,000
12 Vestiaire collective 5,736,000
13 Rentcars LTDA 4,812,000
14 Allbirds, Inc. 4,781,000
15 BrewDog 4,688,000

The Most Searched For Sustainable Food and Drink Brands

The research also looked at food and drinks organisations that have been recognised by B Corp – it reveals the American ice-cream manufacturer, Ben & Jerry’s, is the most popular sustainable food and drink brand in the world with over 10.2 million searches every year.

Scottish-founded BrewDog is the second most popular food and drinks B Corp business, with 4,688,000 searches every year, followed by Thrive Market, the membership-based retailer selling purely organic and natural food products, in third place.

The top five is made up of two subscription services; the UK-based meat delivery company ButcherBox is fourth, and Gousto is fifth with over 2.4 million searches.

Top 10 Most Popular Food & Drink B Corps

Rank Company Name Annual search volume
1 Ben & Jerry’s 10,281,000
2 BrewDog 4,688,000
3 Thrive Market 3,669,000
4 ButcherBox 2,737,000
5 Gousto 2,447,000
6 NATURALIA 2,104,000
7 Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams 1,719,700
8 Alpro (Alpro SCA) 1,286,500
9 Mindful Chef 1,240,500
10 Tony’s Chocolonely 1,149,000

The Countries With the Most B Corp Certified Businesses

From Australia to Zambia, there are B Corp certified businesses all over the world, and the research also reveals the countries with the most certified B Corps. The United States takes the top spot, with 1,418 in total, followed by the United Kingdom with 590, and then Canada with 323.

Although it might not be a surprise that the USA is on top given the size of the country, it is worth noting that the process to become recognised by B Corp and receive the certification is very tough and incredibly thorough, so it’s only handed out to organisations who really are making a difference.

Top 10 countries with the most certified B Corps 

Rank Countries Total number of certified B Corps
1 United States 1418
2 United Kingdom 590
3 Canada 323
4 Australia 296
5 Brazil 181
6 Chile 136
7 France 151
8 Italy 134
9 The Netherlands 126
10 Argentina 119

To read the full research, please visit: https://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/most-popular-bcorps/

DHL, Amazon and DocuSign among most imitated brands in phishing emails

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, Amazon topped the list as the most impersonated brand in email phishing attacks worldwide last year. In total, 17.7% of brand phishing emails used Amazon’s brand name.
The trillion-dollar brand is closely followed by the world’s leading logistics company DHL and a cloud-based electronic signature technology provider DocuSign, each accounting for 16.5% and 12.7% of the brand phishing campaigns, respectively.
Cybercriminals choose to impersonate big brands to lower the guard of their potential victims. Email phishing attacks lure targets to open links to malicious websites designed to infiltrate malware or steal data.
Digital payment service provider PayPal occupies the fourth spot on the list. Last year, the brand’s name was used in 5.7% of brand impersonation emails.
Next up is the world’s largest professional online network LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s name was abused in 3.5% of brand phishing campaigns.
Other brands in the top ten include Microsoft (3%), web hosting company 1&1 (2.5%), British telecommunications services provider O2 (2.3%), the social media giant Facebook(2.2%), and British banking group HSBC (1.8%).
Cybersecurity writer and researcher at Atlas VPN Ruta Cizinauskaite shares her thoughts on brand phishing attacks: “Brand phishing attacks are especially damaging as they hurt not only the victims that fell for the attack but also the reputation of brands that have been spoofed. There is not much organizations can do to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting their brands. However, email users can protect themselves against phishing attempts by taking matters into their own hands.”

Connectivity funding ‘key to successful business growth’

Many UK businesses are in danger of suffering stunted growth due to a lack of investment in core IT connectivity systems. A new report has found that four in every five UK firms are unable to scale plans to their fullest potential with current connectivity arrangements. Just 20% of UK businesses state they are in a position to undertake digital transformation plans.

This comes as 84% of enterprise organisations state their digital transformation plans have accelerated due to Covid-19. For almost half (49%) of the firms surveyed, these plans have been accelerated by a year or more. Almost every firm (98%) said they consider digital transformation to be important to their future strategy, underlining just how integral digital plans are to the growth of UK business.

The report found that 81% of companies saw a ‘highly successful’ digital transformation success rate when up to 20% or more of the digital transformation budget was devoted to connectivity or networking. For companies allocating 10% or less of their budget to connectivity or networking, the success rate dropped to 19% and the number of unsuccessful initiatives rose to 62%. This illustrates the fundamental role that connectivity plays in digital development.

Conducted by business connectivity provider Neos Networks, the report gathered results from 247 medium-to-large UK organisations, and data, cloud and network infrastructure service providers. The findings highlight challenges businesses face in ‘building back better’, what’s needed to ensure UK business has future-ready systems and just how many companies need connectivity investment to grow.

Full report available here: https://neosnetworks.com/resources/ebooks/core-connectivity-the-key-enabler-of-digital-transformation/

The factors that influence digital transformation success

The report highlighted 14 ‘keys to success’ surrounding digital transformation. The following factors are those most common to highly successful firms:

  • 90% of highly successful firms — recognition of significant benefits conferred by SD-WAN (which include proactive management, better performance information and control of applications)

  • 74% — IT department is always involved in specifying and implementing connectivity solutions used in digital transformation

  • 72% — connectivity and networking budget is 10% or more of the overall digital transformation budget

  • 72% — have a ‘very supportive’ telecoms partner

  • 63% — seeing securing remote internet connections as very important

Industries that embraced these digital transformation indicators are more likely to enjoy ‘highly successful’ digital transformation outcomes. Energy & utility firms are best positioned, holding seven ‘keys to success’, on average. They are closely followed by the transport sector, which has just under seven keys.

The industry with the lowest score was the government & public sector, with just over five indicators met.

However, the reality is that organisations from all sectors have work to do, with none demonstrating more than half of the 14 ‘keys to success’ identified.

Pete Asman, Managing Director for Public Sector and Enterprise at Neos Networks, said: “It’s clear that UK business needs greater investment, particularly after all the commercial challenges and changes the pandemic brought. This report only serves to highlight how integral connectivity and smart technology is to firms hoping to enact digital transformation – and the success of digital initiatives.

“The pandemic has acted as a catalyst in some ways, moving digital ever closer to the heart of businesses. It’s only natural that some industries have more catching up to do than others. What’s important now, however, is that we see investment in connectivity, especially if we want to see real economic growth in the post-pandemic landscape.”

Lyall Creswell, founder & CEO of Transport Exchange Group, said: “There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation initiatives. In our industry, this has been driven primarily by changes to consumer behaviour and the huge increase in online purchases and more deliveries. Consumers have warmed to the idea of using ecommerce for everything from grocery shopping to financial transactions, and this has had a massive impact on the logistics industry.

“One of the biggest issues in our sector is a skills shortage – most courier and haulage businesses don’t have dedicated IT resource to map out a proper digital transformation strategy and implement the right tech. Sometimes, there’s also a reluctance to fully support digitalisation. But there’s been a sharp contrast around the acceptance of digital workflow pre and during the pandemic.

Pete Hanlon, CTO at Moneypenny, said: “It’s easy to be consumed by the day to day work and put off large projects like digital transformation until next year. It’s also easy to think that it’s just a technology project rather than business change. Without the right level of focus and buy-in from across all areas of the business, digital transformation will never happen.

Companies that are more agile and take a digital first approach have been best placed to ride out the challenges over the past two years. I believe we will see an unprecedented level of investment in digital transformation over the next few years as more and more companies adopt a similar digital first approach. This investment can only be a good thing for the post-pandemic recovery.”

83% of organisations have increased supply chain investments

New research from Blue Yonder found that 97% of organisations faced disruption over the last 12 months. Factors outside of company control and the resulting consequences varied from company to company, with organisations facing customer delays (59%), stalled production (44%) and staff shortages (40%). As a result of this disruption, the supply chain has become a priority for nearly two thirds of businesses (63%).

The research, conducted by 3Gem, gathered insights from 250 supply chain decision-makers from the UK. It found that they are unsure about what the future holds, with 37% of organisations concerned about the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the supply chain. This is followed by Brexit (24%), a pressure to be more sustainable (19%), the changing regulatory landscape (12%) and a lack of investment (7%).

“Businesses are right to feel concerned when it comes to their supply chain,” said Wayne Snyder, Vice President, Retail Industry Strategy, EMEA, Blue Yonder. “In 2021 we saw unprecedented disruption, and as we look ahead, several macro factors on the horizon are likely to drive further interference.

“To stay ahead of today’s supply chain complexities, organisations need to be able to plan intelligently, while having the visibility and flexibility to respond at pace. This can only be achieved by having a real-time, end-to-end view of the supply chain that leverages technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend and optimise actions.”

The positive news is that organisations clearly understand the impact of disruption and are proactively managing concerns by investing time and resource in the supply chain. Blue Yonder’s research found an overwhelming majority (83%) of organisations have increased investment in the supply chain over the last 12 months, with 1 in 10 organisations (11%) investing more than $25 million.

Technology is the common factor when it comes to spending this investment. When asked about how they invested budgets, 86% of organisations invested in technology, followed by developing new skills and defining a new supply chain strategy (60%).

Interestingly, over half of organisations (58%) also invested in the sustainability of the supply chain. This is an encouraging move, given that 2021 research from the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, sponsored by Blue Yonder, found that nearly one in ten (9%) businesses had decreased their commitment to sustainability last year, while 55% thought it remained the same or were unsure as to the status.

When asked about the technology that would have the most significant impact in reducing disruption,  two thirds (67%) of organisations believe that having the ability to view and manage the supply chain from end-to-end will help them manage disruption better. This is followed by advancements in AI technology (53%), new types of delivery options powered by the likes of robots and drones (43%), and the use of technology to better manage their workforce (42%).

“These stats highlight just how vital new technology is in reducing risk across the entire supply chain,” said Michael Feindt, Strategic Advisor, Blue Yonder.  “Especially considering the fact that 71% of organisations have implemented new technology over the last 12 months to reduce disruption in the future.

“The study also showed that more than two-thirds (68%) of companies state that planning, forecasting, and inventory management were their most important areas for technology investment, with end-to-end supply chain management and AI technology deemed critical by more than half (53%).

“Of course, disruption isn’t always avoidable, but having the technology in place to support change and empower organisations to make decisions in real-time will go a long way in minimising risk and improving overall business resilience.”

Is staff scheduling causing you stress? New report offers invaluable employee insights and retention tips

An insightful new report from workforce management solution Quinyx is shining a spotlight on the experiences of employees within the UK shipping industry, and offering invaluable advice for employers hoping to boost staff retention in 2022.

The report, part of Quinyx’s State of the Deskless Workforce global study of 11,000 workers, highlights shipping and distribution employees’ opinions of their jobs – and their bosses.

Exploring changing work patterns and management behaviours, the report contains key insights and advice for company leaders as the industry continues to face considerable pressures.

For example, Quinyx data reveals that UK shipping workers are less likely to say they feel valued at work than employees in other countries that also have prolific shipping industries. The report also looks at the priorities of employees – e.g. flexibility versus higher pay – and examines issues of understaffing.

Full of useful tips and advice on employee engagement and staff scheduling, with details of how managers can implement scheduling processes to make day-to-day operations run more smoothly, Quinyx’s report is available to download for free here.

Toma Pagojute, Chief HR Officer, Quinyx, says: “With the shipping industry continuing to face uncertainty following COVID-19 and Brexit, looking after loyal staff has never been more important. Unfortunately, current worker shortages present further challenges. Employers run the risk of overworking existing team members while trying to keep their businesses afloat, hence it’s vital that managers make looking after their workforce a top priority in 2022.

“Prioritising staff could mean anything from improving employee engagement, to implementing processes and tools to make scheduling more effective. Great staff are the most valuable asset of any business, and companies that put their employees at the forefront are the ones most likely to succeed this year.”

1 in 5 transport & logistics employees considering quitting due to excessive stress

Nearly one in five employees (17%) in the transport and logistics sector are considering leaving their job role because of excessive stress experienced in the last year.

One in ten employees in the sector (10%) have already left their job role due to excessive stress over the last year — this is double the number of retail employees, and more than healthcare workers over the same period.

During the busy Christmas period and with increased pressure on staffing and workloads across the industry, employers are encouraged to invest in mental health support for employees. More than one employee in eight who suffered from excessive stress over the last year believe their company didn’t provide sufficient support.

Up to 27% of employees from the sector have taken off work for mental health reasons in 2021. 7% of employees have required unpaid leave due to mental health issues – this is double the number of those that took unpaid leave due to physical health problems.

The 2021 Stress and Mental Health study, undertaken by Vapeclub, asked transport and logistics employees working for 67 employers in the UK about their experience of stress and mental health issues in the workplace, the cause of excessive stress in their role and the impacts on life outside of work.

Almost half (46.7%) of employees have been struggling to sleep properly as a result of excessive stress – a problem that deeply affects day-to-day life, and can be dangerous as a HGV driver.

Meanwhile, (40%) withdrew from others or socialised less, leaving them to deal with stress without the vital support of friends and family. For 33%, feelings of excessive stress led to further impacts on their mental health.

Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health, said: “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Pressure at work is usually the main culprit and when budgets are tight and teams are small, people often find themselves with multiple roles and heavy workloads, piling on the stress.

Policies like turning off email servers outside of working hours helps ring fence valuable recovery time. Mental health first aid training can also help managers spot the signs or triggers and put preventions in place.”

Claire Brown, Career Coach and former Occupational Therapist for the NHS, said: “In this past year, we have seen the continued impact of the pandemic upon people’s careers and their experiences of the workplace. However, in addition to the existing challenges, there is now an increasing need to adjust to a constantly evolving and changing landscape. The constant change in expectations across a range of areas coupled with an absence of effective support structures and change management practices has led to an increase in work-related stress for many.

“Now, more than ever, employers need to prioritise the health and well-being of their staff teams otherwise they will find many employees forced to take sick leave due to stress or ill health. Any issues and grievances should be discussed openly with employees and they should seek to foster a culture in which work-related stress is de-stigmatised by recognising it as a genuine health concern.”