Warehouse labor needs present workplace improvement opportunities

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September 30, 2020By Josh Ferguson

E-commerce growth was low double digits leading into 2020, but according to Forbes, the pandemic has accelerated growth of e-commerce by 4-6 years, jumping a whopping 77% year-over-year May 2019 vs. May 2020.

This has further propelled the fall of traditional retail experiences and created a distinct shift whereby many retail stores are being reborn as e-commerce warehouses. For example, in April, Bed Bath & Beyond converted 25% of its stores to regional fulfillment centers, as online sales swelled 85%.

With this comes a drastic transition in the labor force, as retail employees are absorbed by the fulfillment, distribution, and warehousing sectors. As a result, organizations looking to attract and retain new workers will need to adopt the necessary methods to provide workers with the right tools.

For many organizations, this means adopting a company culture that recognizes individualized skills and talents. Many companies utilize science-based software solutions to understand each employee’s unique traits, personality, and adaptability. The results include decreased costs, improved efficiency, and improved workforce satisfaction – driving retention rates up.

Another retention mechanism used by warehouses and distribution centers is the implementation of an open communication policy. By breeding an environment that fosters growth, employees are more likely to point out archaic processes that result in higher costs and lower productivity.

Professional development and advancement are other areas where companies should focus. With busy warehouse environments, employees often feel there is a lack of professional development and limited opportunity for advancement. As a result, the organization may experience high turnover rates.

When employees have a chance to learn numerous skills, they may present improvement suggestions. Additionally, knowledge of other positions and requirements allows them to gain a greater understanding of the overall needs of the warehouse, which ultimately allows them to work smarter since they realize how their workflows affect other processes. Ultimately, driving operational excellence and improved productivity begins with human behavior.

Warehouses can also differentiate themselves and drive employee retention by enhancing employee safety and security through regular reviews of safety policies and procedures. Regular safety training ensures all associates follow the necessary steps to protect equipment and themselves. Having a process for monitoring both safety compliance and employee health allows managers to act proactively in the event of an injury or illness. This emphasis on employee well-being, combined with advancement opportunities, allows the organization to build a happy and sustainable workforce.

To learn more about how you can drive operational excellence in the warehouse, checkout the complete best practices guide.

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