Optimizing Labor in a Warehouse or Work Yard

optimizing labor in warehouse or work yardToday more than ever, every penny counts. So reducing costs as much as possible needs to be among warehouse management’s top priority.

That’s why it can be so infuriating to see workers idling or being unproductive while on the clock. Every dollar wasted on non-productive labor ultimately gets passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. And the higher your prices, the less competitive you will be.

Two Key Factors to Maximizing Labor  Efficiencies

When it comes to managing labor effectively, there are two major areas that need to be considered: Scheduling and supervision.

When creating your work schedule, you want to make sure you have just enough labor to meet your job requirements at any given moment, but not any more than is absolutely necessary. Any warehouse manager or supervisor will tell you that a single idle worker can reduce the productivity of all your other employees. So making sure you have exactly the right amount of people through aggressive scheduling based on realistic forecasts is a top priority.

Then second key factor is supervision. Most workers show up to work wanting to do a good job. They don’t want to get into trouble or be unproductive. But if there isn’t adequate supervision to keep them active and directing them to be committed to the task at hand, it’s also human nature to take frequent breaks, not perform to optimal efficiency, and general goof off and get in trouble.

Supervising the Supervisors

Supervisors themselves also need direction from management in order to keep the employees who work for them active and productive while on the clock. Management needs to make their expectations clear, monitor supervisor’s performance, reward positive behavior and corrected unwanted behavior. One of the most common breakdowns is in communications: Supervisors don’t understand or know what is expected of them, so they are not able to perform to their optimal ability.

The efficiency of an operation is only as good as its weakest link, so it’s to management’s benefit to nurture constant, two-way communication between leadership layers and to create a positive culture that rewards and recognizes top performers, both among employees and supervisors.

In some cases, third party logistics can offer solutions to efficiently managing labor. If there are jobs and responsibilities that can be performed off-site for less without impacting the quality of your operations, they should be considered. Often, less labor means more time for management to tackle the big jobs.

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