Newmark Polska Sp. z o.o.: Foreign nationals want to work in warehouses in Poland

2-07-2024

More and more foreigners are moving to Poland to work in the logistics sector, which already accounts approximately 20 per cent of all foreign nationals working in Poland. The largest groups by nationality are Ukrainians, Belarussians and Georgians. Other rapidly growing cohorts of migrant workers come from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Polish warehouse market is dominated by the Big Six: Warsaw, Upper Silesia, Lower Silesia, Central Poland, Greater Poland and Tricity. These locations are targeted by investors on account of not only their first-rate infrastructure but also people who have logistics experience and a thorough understanding of warehouses and, most importantly, want to work in this sector.
 
“Tenants of warehouse and production facilities in the best locations are likely to be most successful in recruiting staff. There is a well-known mantra in the sector that emphasizes three critical factors in logistics: ‘location, location, location’, which is also reflected in recruitment. Practice shows that employees appreciate - in addition to a salary - quick and easy commutes. This means that they will favour urban locations that are well served by public transport,” explains Jan Olszewski, Advisor, Industrial and Warehouse Department, Newmark Polska. 

Low unemployment on the Big Six markets

Most companies in Poland are still experiencing difficulties in recruiting skilled and experienced staff, with high employment rates confirmed by statistics. “Of the Big Six, Pozna┼ä had the lowest unemployment rate of 1.1 per cent at the end of April 2024, with the highest of 4.6 per cent being in ┼üód┼║. By province, the lowest unemployment rate of 3.1 per cent was in Greater Poland, while the highest of 8.5 per cent was in Subcarpathia,” says Maria D─ůbrowska, Head of Accommodation, EWL Group.

Labour market competition for staff also impacts salary levels and other incentives offered to employees. “In the case of temp workers in the warehouse sector, particularly in periods of heightened demand during summer holidays and in the closing weeks of the year, the use of additional bonuses is becoming standard practice in reaching out not only to candidates who generally choose to work in logistics, but also to people working in administration or agriculture who would like to take advantage of an attractive job offer to earn some extra money on a temporary basis. It is worth noting that local poviat labour offices in almost all of these locations report that warehouse workers are in short supply,” explains
Małgorzata Mudyna, Regional Manager, Randstad Polska.

In the photo from the left: Jan Olszewski, Advisor, Industrial and Warehouse Department, Newmark Polska; Ma┼égorzata Mudyna, Regional Manager, Randstad Polska; Maria D─ůbrowska, Head of Accommodation, EWL Group.


Emerging markets have larger labour pools

Low unemployment and high employee expectations in the largest regional cities may mean a growth opportunity for smaller cities offering better access to labour.
 

“There is some recovery in eastern Poland, where warehouse centres are being developed near burgeoning special economic zones and along the Via Baltica route, and where employers can tap into wider labour pools, particularly in areas slightly more distant from provincial capitals,” says Ma┼égorzata Mudyna, Randstad Polska. 

According to the expert from EWL Group, less popular locations may also attract tenants with lower labour costs. “Salaries are frequently higher in large cities than in smaller towns. For example, the average monthly gross salary of a warehouse worker in Warsaw is approximately PLN 5,300 compared to approximately PLN 4,500 in Bia┼éystok,” says Maria D─ůbrowska.

Will this provide a sufficient boost to warehouse development? “At Newmark Polska, we are also receiving enquiries from current and potential tenants about locations in northern and eastern Poland. Smaller emerging markets such as Bia┼éystok, Lublin and Rzeszów undoubtedly have a huge potential but need time and a better economic climate to start playing a bigger role on the Polish industrial market. They are still in their relative infancy and the investment and business slowdown caused by the pandemic and exacerbated by inflation and the war in Ukraine has seen developers focus on historically key industrial locations,” explains Jan Olszewski.

What instead of the Big Six?

The offer of the six largest cities is likely to be complemented by satellite cities which may also represent an interesting direction of the warehouse and industrial market growth. “The advantage of smaller cities near large hubs is better worker accommodation. Such locations also attract manufacturing and logistics companies with lower rental rates allowing them to plan expansion on smaller budgets. Limited public transport in such towns has been a major obstacle so far, but it can be quite easily overcome by providing employee transport services. We are already seeing good market practices whereby developers support tenants in this area. A good example is MDC2, which offers tenants assistance in organising employee transport in its facility in G┼éuchów near ┼üód┼║,” says Jan Olszewski from Newmark Polska.

Employee transport services likely to attract larger pools of candidates

Job agencies confirm that access to employee transport services has saved more than one recruitment process. “Employees in communes with higher unemployment rates are ready to commute 100 km or more. In addition, the location of logistics centres near fast roads and passenger railway lines that cut commute times makes it easier to tap into larger pools of candidates,” says Ma┼égorzata Mudyna, Randstad Polska. “Worker mobility is still very low in Poland, which also makes for a strong case for good transport services and enabling a return home for the night.” 
 

“In contrast to Polish people, foreign nationals such as Romanians are increasingly willing to move,” explains Maria D─ůbrowska. “We are working on projects where specific arrangements offered by employers are a strong incentive for candidates to relocate. For example, with single mothers coming from Ukraine being allowed to bring children along, the pool of female candidates has significantly exceeded employers’ requirements. Although working mothers arranged childcare on their own, they did receive logistics support from employers at the beginning.”

Making life easier for foreigners

According to data from Randstad, approximately 20 per cent of foreign nationals who have received work permits in Poland have taken up employment in logistics. It has calculated that more than 225,000 people working in the warehouse sector are citizens of other countries. The largest groups by nationality are Ukrainians, Belarusians and Georgians. Other rapidly growing groups of migrant workers come from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
While an employer’s assistance with accommodation is very important to foreign workers, Polish people appreciate employee transport and reimbursement of commuting expenses. However, according to Randstad’s research, an attractive salary remains the number one priority for candidates. “This is why it is still very important to regularly monitor local labour markets - especially when new employers turn up - and to revise work rates or to introduce attractive bonus schemes that could be combined with boosting employee engagement and motivation. In addition, employers should also track not only work rates proposed by competitors in their sector but also salaries offered by companies from other industries seeking employees with a similar skill set,” explains Ma┼égorzata Mudyna.
The latest survey by EWL Group, Rentlito and the Centre for East European Studies at the University of Warsaw titled “A Foreign Employee – Accommodation in Poland” has revealed that employers or employment agencies have provided accommodation for almost half of cross-border workers in Poland (47%), which suggests that they play an important role in the process of securing housing for foreign nationals. In addition, a vast majority of survey respondents (80%) were happy with such arrangements. One in three respondents (33%) found accommodation on their own.

Who will be replaced by machines? 


It has long been said that it is only a matter of time before robots will solve labour shortages. Warehouse and industrial market experts agree that this sector is also being increasingly influenced by robotization. Machines and AI are making work easier and eliminating tasks that are the most tiresome and carry health risks. An interesting example is a leading Polish company that uses its specialist team for robotization and AI research and innovation in managing logistics operations. “Of the 60 positions in the team, only a few are filled by people, with robots and AI responsible for all the other roles. Machines do not need holidays or go on sick leave, so they are becoming increasingly attractive to tenants who are implementing or at least considering partial automation in their facilities. However, concerns about workers in the industrial and logistics sector being entirely replaced by robots appear to be greatly exaggerated,” says Jan Olszewski from Newmark Polska.

This view is shared by Ma┼égorzata Mudyna, who says that robots will in the long term partly ease staff shortages resulting from the rapidly changing demographics in Poland. In the long run, the combination of robotization and AI, including the development of self-driving vehicles and devices powered by data analysed by AI, is also likely to lead to less demand for some manual skills. “At the same time, there will be increased demand for employees with experience in oversight, basic programming and operation and maintenance of such devices - these skills are scarce on the market. Due to changes taking place, assistance in reskilling and upskilling will be extremely important. Only employee education and training will mitigate the consequences of technological developments on the labour market,” concludes the expert from Randstad Polska.




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