Show appreciation with small gestures

Reading time: approx. 6 minutes
Text: Juliane Gringer
Photos: private, Janina Gruppe, Shutterstock

Logisticians not only need good working conditions and fair wages. Above all, they also want more appreciation. Here, actors in the sector reveal how they show this with small gestures – gestures that cost nothing or almost nothing, but with which everyone can gain a lot.

The people who work in transport and logistics are everyday heroes: they ensure the supply of the population and keep the economy running. However, the conditions under which they work are often not ideal: professional drivers in particular are under pressure, have to be particularly flexible and fast, are not always treated kindly at the ramps – and often receive low wages. These general conditions must improve: The conditions under which logistics takes place must be commensurate with the value of the services behind them. But in addition to fair pay and reliable working hours, appreciation is also important.

»If something has worked out well, you should say so.«

Joachim Fehrenkötter, Managing Director of Fehrenkätter Transport & Logistik GmbH

A bunch of flowers

“If someone is sick with us for more than two days, they get a card and a bouquet of flowers sent home,” reports Joachim Fehrenkötter, Managing Director of Fehrenkötter Transport & Logistik GmbH. The entrepreneur wants to show that his team and he are thinking of this person and that he is an important part of the company. For Fehrenkötter, it can also be a simple “Thank you!” with which he shows appreciation to employees: “If something has worked out well, you should say so. We all often talk about the things that don’t work so well. But then you also have to be able to praise as compensation,” he explains. “For example, I motivate my colleagues in our dispatching department to thank the driver for a tour that went particularly well.” BGL ambassador Christina Scheib confirms how important praise can be: “The boss doesn’t have to get down on his knees in front of me every day, but a simple sentence like ‘You did a good job!’ or ‘Glad you’re here!’ simply does you good and gives you the feeling that your own achievements are being seen. That’s how you stay loyal to a company for longer.”

»The boss doesn’t have to get down on his knees in front of me every day, but a simple sentence like ‘You did a good job!’ or ‘Glad you’re here!’ simply does you good.«

Christina Scheib, BGL ambassador

Joachim Fehrenkötter also asks drivers who arrive at the farm how they are, where they come from and where they are going – and thanks them for their work. “These are very simple, small signs of humanity,” says the entrepreneur. He has already spoken to seasoned drivers who have been on the road for 40 years and reports: “I have never experienced that anyone cares about me or that anyone cares at all about what I do or how I am.” It is therefore all the more important for Fehrenkötter to show appreciation for his employees.

Just take a ride

The entrepreneur is also convinced that you understand best what you have experienced yourself: “If you ride along on the trestle for a week, you get a completely different understanding of this profession – I can only recommend doing that once. I did it too, and that experience still shapes my work as a haulier today.” Being on the road, doing the ramp work and seeing all the challenges with your own eyes between traffic jams, narrow city streets and lack of parking space opens your eyes to the importance of the job – and the appreciation comes naturally. At UPS, for example, it is common for all employees to support the drivers and help deliver packages during the Christmas season – even the managers. Moreover, they have usually all driven tours themselves: A practical assignment in the delivery van is part of the company’s good manners.

Positive communication

Even in private, everyone can do something for the appreciation of logistics: “In your circle of friends, you can show interest in the job and ask what it really means, instead of putting logistics workers in a drawer full of prejudices,” says Frauke Heistermann, spokesperson for “Die Wirtschaftsmacher“. This initiative expresses appreciation for those working in logistics, among other things, by reporting on logistics heroes and heroines: “We tell stories about these people and the contribution they make every day to supplying the economy and the population. This not only interests the public, but also makes the logisticians themselves proud of their work. “Social media is also an attractive way to express appreciation and respect: instead of writing negative comments on posts related to drivers, for example, people can consciously comment in an appreciative way and thus support them. For Heistermann, appreciation is “a fundamental question of the attitude with which I approach people – whether in personal contact or in communication via social media. It is becoming more and more important for me, also because the expression of respect and recognition of the performance of others is increasingly lost to us.”

»In your circle of friends, you can show interest in the job and ask what it really means, instead of putting logistics workers in a drawer full of prejudices.«

Frauke Heistermann, spokesperson for „Die Wirtschaftsmacher“

Rules on the ramps

When work at the ramp runs smoothly, everyone benefits: shippers, consignees and transport companies. The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce has drawn up “9 Golden Ramp Rules” that make it easy: Among other things, the association suggests that sufficient capacity be kept available at loading ramps – in terms of ramp zone, storage, personnel and loading aids – and that enough parking spaces should be available for waiting drivers, including the possibility of spending rest periods on site. Technical aids such as radio message receivers, which are used to call up the vehicles, can avoid unnecessary journeys.

In addition, a good flow of information, punctuality and clear responsibilities for loading and unloading help. Responsibilities in particular are often not clear. “In many places the drivers are supposed to remove the foils from the pallets or have to do so because there is simply no one on site to do it,” says Professor Dirk Engelhardt, spokesman of the board of the German Association of Road Haulage, Logistics and Disposal (BGL) e.V.. He also appeals to the industry and the population to show more respect for transport and logistics: “The appropriate appreciation of the challenging and indispensable work that our truck drivers do every day for the population and the economy is a task for society as a whole – but one that is gladly suppressed as long as the supermarket shelves are full. This should change urgently.”

»The appropriate appreciation of the challenging and indispensable work that our truck drivers do every day for the population and the economy is a task for society as a whole.«

Professor Dirk Engelhardt, spokesman of the board of the German Association of Road Haulage, Logistics and Disposal (BGL) e.V.

Ask what helps

Kerstin Fuhrmann, expert for professional change and podcast host of “Gefühlt erfolgreich” (Feeling Successful), recommends having an open ear for the needs of employees, but then following up with action: “You should ask how your colleagues are doing and really respond to the answer. A well-prepared appraisal interview, in which there is space and time for exchange at eye level, can show lasting appreciation.” In addition, one can specifically explore ideas for a better everyday working life: “Maybe a fruit basket or a table football does not make my teams happier, but something else – to find out, I should ask them directly what they would like. For drivers, that could be a voucher for a good meal on the road every now and then, for example.” If you set a budget, you make the financial framework for it clear. Being able to help shape the content also gives employees the feeling that they are important and that their opinion is being heard. According to Kerstin Fuhrmann, it can also be very motivating to set goals – for the individual or the entire team: “And then you should also take the time to celebrate when they are achieved.

»You should ask how your colleagues are doing and really respond to the answer.«

Kerstin Fuhrmann, expert for professional change and podcast host of “Gefühlt erfolgreich” (Feeling Successful)

Practical help for compatibility

Parents often need very practical support in order to reconcile work and family life. BPW therefore not only offers sports courses for children and young people, but also a free transport service: If necessary, the children are picked up from school and taken to training. In cooperation with regional clubs, ice hockey, handball and swimming are on offer. After sports, the parents pick up their children themselves – the service gives them more time and allows them to work in a more relaxed way. With the KidsTreff, BPW also offers emergency care – if day care is cancelled, the kindergarten is closed or parents have to go to hospital, the company provides short-term help in cooperation with a family centre.

»I really want to show each and every one that they are important to us.«

Georg Ebeling, Owner of Spedition Georg Ebeling

Personal address

Spedition Georg Ebeling in Wedemark near Hanover has 450 employees from 30 nations. Owner Georg Ebeling decided at some point to greet everyone in their mother tongue. From “buen día” to “dobrý deň” to “İyi günler”, everything is there when he walks through his company. And not only does he know where everyone in the team comes from, but he remembers personal details: “How are the children?” or “Is your leg healthy again?” are questions he asks out of genuine interest. “We are a family business, and that’s what makes a business like this stand out for me,” he explains. “I really want to show each and every one that they are important to us.”
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