Are you a warehouse manager or owner who’s having difficulty attracting and retaining qualified warehouse workers? You’re not alone – many manufacturers, warehouses, and third-party logistics (3PL) companies face the same challenge. In this blog, we’ll discuss the current state of employment in the warehousing industry and some strategies for hiring, retaining, and managing your warehouse workforce so you can operate more efficiently.
Keep reading to find out what workers are looking for as it relates to job satisfaction, working conditions, training opportunities, and incentives. These employment preferences can not only help you attract new warehouse employees but also retain warehouse staff members that have a significant impact on your company’s success.
- The State of Warehouse Employment
- How to Retain Warehouse Employees
- Attracting a Qualified Warehouse Workforce
- How to Manage Warehouse Workers for a Productive Workforce
- WMS Software and Your Warehouse Staff
The State of Warehouse Employment
During the pandemic and in the months that followed, many business owners and warehouse managers found themselves in a bind when looking for and retaining suitable warehouse workers to meet their daily operational demands. More specifically, there was a shortage of qualified employees to fill orders and get them out the door.
While many people were taking part in the ‘great resignation’ – which hurt employee retention – others were either not qualified in the warehouse industry, didn’t care for the benefits companies were offering, or didn’t make it through the training process once hired. This led to frustrated warehouse management and operational headaches. Warehouse managers needed a better understanding of how to retain warehouse employees and attract new workers for open positions.
How to Retain Warehouse Employees
It is cheaper to retain workers than hire new employees due to the time it takes managers to train new employees and for those new hires to learn the right processes of the warehouse industry. That’s why a warehouse manager needs to learn how to motivate warehouse employees for better staff satisfaction and productivity.
Communication and Employee Engagement: It is important to talk to your warehouse workers to measure their level of job satisfaction and to understand how they feel about working for your company. Receiving constructive feedback from warehouse employees can provide warehouse management with a plethora of information to improve staff retention.
Provide Growth Opportunities Through Training: Offering cross-training or new training chances to warehouse employees could result in possible job advancement, an increase in employee motivation, and help you retain top performers. It may be as simple as training to gain a CPR certification and become a member of the company’s safety team or cross-training for lock-out-tag-out to assist with safety protocols during machine maintenance.
Continual training for warehouse workers with the prospect of job advancement is key to helping you retain workers. Communicate with your warehouse workers to determine which employees are motivated to learn and, once trained, could be a valuable asset to the growth of your business.
Make Their Jobs Easier to Improve Employee Retention: Warehouse workers want to be able to do their job well and efficiently, and not face frequent hurdles that reduce productivity or which may have an effect on their physical and mental ability to work.
Warehouse management should take the time to talk with each employee to receive constructive feedback on how the company could make their job easier. A warehouse worker may have a suggestion to change certain processes that result in operational improvement across the warehouse as a whole. Or maybe employees would like more padded station mats to relieve back stress and increase their productivity. A happy warehouse workforce will help you improve staff retention and save you money.
Increase Employee Motivation Through Incentives: A great way for a 3PL, manufacturer, or warehouse to improve staff retention is to provide incentives for exemplary work or reaching operational goals. These employee perks can come in the form of productivity bonuses or other monetary incentives, championship game tickets, or even free lunches for a month based on the work performed or the goal achieved. A company culture that rewards workers for the quality of their work will help warehouse managers improve retention on the warehouse floor.
Automation Can Increase Employee Engagement: No, that isn’t a typo. Manufacturers, 3PLs, and warehouses that have adopted automated processes and/or machinery STILL need employees! While automation may reduce the need for manual labor in some positions, it increases the need for workers and managers to assign tasks, enter programs, and troubleshoot problems on automated equipment.
Consider this excerpt from DC Velocity’s December 2022 article:
Compared with robots, people are more flexible in their thinking and better at solving complex problems, says Stephen Dryer, senior global product manager for the material handling systems integrator Fortna (which recently merged with MHS Global).
“All the things that robots are not very good at will be the purview of the human,” Dryer says. “There’s a fear that robots are going to take over people’s jobs, and it is the case that robots can do certain things pretty well. But they are not efficient at higher-order tasks”—particularly ones requiring judgment calls and problem-solving.
Also, according to a 2022 market study of 500 U.S. warehouse workers,
74% of on-floor workers would consider taking a job at another company for lower pay if they had an opportunity to use technology that would increase their job productivity. These same employees feel physically spent, with many walking all over the warehouse a third of the day! They could increase warehouse productivity with the addition of automated mobile technology.
Attracting a Qualified Warehouse Workforce
If your manufacturing plant, warehouse, or 3PL is needing to expand its warehouse workforce, your company must pull the most qualified candidates from the field of applicants. But how can your business compete for the best potential employees? Check out the following for a few tips:
Tell Your Company Success Story: Nothing says ‘Work Here’ more than a successful business story and plans for future growth. Be sure to promote your company culture to attract workers that may be more closely aligned with your warehouse’s operational goals. Motivating qualified warehouse workers before they are hired will result in more employee engagement in the future.
Offer a Sign-On Bonus and Competitive Wages: Right off the top, a warehouse manager would think that most prospective employees are looking for cold, hard cash and many are. Yes, a good majority of the employable workforce will be seeking an attractive sign-on bonus with continuing competitive wages. Most people do not want to job-hop, looking for better pay once they are established at a company they trust and believe in.
Highlight Your Benefits Package: Offering benefits to your warehouse employees, no matter their length of employment, is a plus for any company. However, potential new hires that may be shopping for jobs may be comparing your offered benefits against those from another company. The benefits package your warehouse offers must be in line with or better than those often provided by similar warehouse employers.
Warehouse management should regularly review and then highlight their insurance offerings, vacation/sick days, leave policies, and incentives to desired candidates and current employees.
Be Flexible and Recognize Helpful Skills: Many employees today seek more flexibility in their work schedules. By nature, warehouse employees work set hours that aren’t very flexible. However, if your company is willing to shift a worker’s schedule so they can go to a doctor’s appointment or attend their child’s soccer game, it makes for a happier employee.
It can also benefit your company to recognize employees with unique skills that aren’t typically needed to perform their daily work, then compensate them appropriately. Some employee examples could include bilingual workers or those having extensive experience in warehouse management system processes. These skills can help with communication, reduce training time, increase productivity, and positively impact warehouse operations overall.
Provide Training, Technology, and Advancement Opportunities: Potential employees are usually eager to learn, open to using technology, and want a chance to advance within the business.
Warehouses and 3PLs that offer applicants the chance for skill certification have the advantage since this is an accomplishment that will stay with the employee over time. Forklift drivers, maintenance technicians, or electricians are just a few examples of credentials that could be offered through training and continuing education. WERC just announced a new online Distribution Logistics Leader Certification Program as a good reference.
Workers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy in the warehouse industry. Incorporating technology into daily warehouse processes allows an employee the ability to perform more efficiently and with less physical stress. Technology can be in the form of warehouse management system (WMS) software, mobile RF scanners, and automated packaging lines, to name a few. Global Trade Magazine recently reported on the trend.
Warehouse management can ensure continuity in successful operational processes through workers advancing within the business. Engaging employees to become warehouse managers, shipping supervisors, or team leaders from the beginning increases employee motivation, productivity, and staff retention.
A Peerless Media Supply Chain Certification report offers a deeper dive into supply chain certifications and retaining and attracting a qualified warehouse workforce.
By offering flexible working hours, recognizing special skills and certifications, using technology to increase productivity, and providing opportunities for advancement within the company, warehouse managers can make their staff feel valued and motivated. This in turn will lead to a more productive workforce that is better equipped to handle any challenges or changes along the supply chain.
It’s important to keep employees engaged by listening to them and encouraging open communication between management and workers. With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to create an environment where everyone feels appreciated – leading you one step closer to making your business successful!
How to Manage Warehouse Workers for a Productive Workforce
A successful supply chain operation is only as good as its warehouse workers and the employees are only as successful as their warehouse manager. While we’re not saying that your warehouse or 3PL will close tomorrow if your warehouse manager is having a bad day, exceptional supervision goes a long way.
It is essential to have an excellent warehouse manager who can effectively manage and engage with their workforce. Communication, visibility, recognition of accomplishments, flexibility in scheduling, special skills compensation, training opportunities, and technological integration are all ways that you can ensure your workers feel supported and empowered.
A great warehouse manager is an asset to your distribution center or manufacturing plant. Here are a few tips for effective management through employee engagement:
Communicate: Hold daily shift meetings and weekly department meetings to review changes, assign new tasks, or resolve any problems.
Be visible and approachable: When a warehouse manager is present on the facility floor, workers are likely to perform their tasks more efficiently and be more comfortable with management interaction.
Recognize accomplishments: Whether workers put in extra hours to ship a huge order or productivity numbers increased over the previous quarter, be sure to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of your workforce.
Treat all workers fairly: This goes without saying. Do not engage in favoritism or discrimination in any form. Also, be sure to address any employee concerns promptly.
Lead and mentor: As mentioned before, preparing warehouse workers for advancement within your company is a great organizational advantage. Plus, be open to feedback for process improvements that increase efficiency and productivity.
With a great team behind them, it won’t be long until your business reaches the next level of success! Investing in these strategies will not only benefit your employees but also create an environment where everyone feels valued.
It is clear that to manage a successful warehouse workforce, employers must recognize the importance of effective communication and employee appreciation. By creating an open dialogue with workers and providing training, technology, and advancement opportunities for employees to further their skill sets and career paths, companies will be able to retain valuable personnel while also improving overall productivity. With these strategies implemented within your organization’s workplace culture, you can ensure that your supply chain operation remains as efficient as possible.
The key to a successful warehouse operation is having an engaged workforce that understands their roles and responsibilities. A great way to do this is by offering employees flexibility, recognition for special skills, training opportunities, technology advances, and paths of advancement within the business. By following these tips on how to manage your warehouse workers effectively you can ensure employee engagement which will lead to increased productivity and staff retention in your facility or 3PL.
DC Velocity’s post on Best Practices to Build Labor-friendly and Sustainable Logistics Operations can provide more insight into effective workforce management.
WMS Software and Your Warehouse Staff
As stated before, distribution facilities are incorporating more automation and technology into their operations. As a result, it is key that warehouses are hiring qualified employees and training their current staff. WMS software is one technology that can benefit both your warehouse workers and your organization.
WMS software should be flexible for your organization and easy for your employees to use. ASCTrac is one such software that offers the best of both worlds. Rated as one of the best in the industry for innovative supply chain solutions, ASC Software provides a fully supported and easy-to-use application to manage inventory, manufacturing, logistics, and automated systems.
ASC is committed to training, including training on-site or online for all system users. In addition, our U.S.-based professional support is available online 24/7.
In conclusion, we have discussed the fluctuating state of warehouse employment and what steps employers can take to retain, attract, and manage a productive warehouse workforce. We’ve seen that creating an inviting atmosphere, offering competitive pay and benefits, maintaining work/life balance for employees, rewarding workers, and equipping employees with necessary skills and software tools like WMS software can all lead to significant improvements in worker productivity.
It is more important than ever for employers to create an attractive yet productive warehouse environment that keeps their workforce motivated. To help you achieve your optimal productivity goals in your warehouse operations, contact us for your WMS software needs. We look forward to helping unlock the potential of your warehousing services!