Attracting And Retaining Warehouse Workers

The foundation of any business regardless of what it does is its workforce. Hiring and retaining the right people to work for you is an essential step toward business success.

So, what can warehouse managers do to recruit the best people to work and what do they need to do to get them to stay?

Challenges To Recruiting Workers

Attracting and retaining workers is becoming a challenge for many warehouses.
(Courtesy:Doug Walsh at

Every trade has to overcome challenges in recruiting the best and the brightest to work. The challenge for the warehouse trade in recruiting workers include:

• Losing workers to other warehouses in high-density warehouse areas.
• A limited young work force
• Daily operation
• The training process

Managers of warehouses in areas that are saturated with warehouse businesses have discovered that workers are being lured away to work for other warehouses due to a relatively minor increase in pay.

They have also learned that the pool of today’s workforce consists of aging Generation X’ers who already have the skills, training and inclination to stay with the job. However, it’s now time to find the next generation of workers and they are Millennials who are generally not attracted to warehouse jobs.

The daily operation of a warehouse includes operating in shifts causing potential employees to work hours that don’t appeal to them. Because of the growth of e-commerce, warehouses need to operate on three shifts during a full 24-hour day. A good portion of the work hours of a warehouse imposes an inconvenience to the lifestyle of younger people and so the job is less attractive.

Since the younger available workforce is not properly skilled and knowledgeable in the warehouse business, there is an essential need to train them. And that need is compounded by the fact that today’s warehouse jobs involve new technologies that a prospective employee needs to be trained on how they work.

Battling The Work Force Challenges

According to a news release from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, from January 9, 2018 to the last working day of November 2017, the number of quits and attritions increased by 25,000 in just one month in warehousing, transportation and utilities.

The release added that workers left their old jobs for other jobs that pay just a little bit more than the previous job.

Although it is true that compensation is still an important incentive in attracting workers, there are more things that entice a person to work and stay working on a job. They include:

• Salary
• Incentives including bonuses, paid time off, and more.
• A clean and safe workplace.
• Health Insurance
• Availability to training and skill improvement programs.
• Good communication between the worker and management.
• Appreciation for doing the job well and getting recognized for it.
*  Being able to provide input and getting constructive feedback concerning job performance.
• A career strategy

Warehouse managers need to develop a strategy to attract young employees as Generation X workers get older and retire. The work force is changing. Those who are now launching careers are Millennials who were born between 1982 and 2004. As things become more automated, Millennials have the skills to interface with the new technologies and automation.

It is advantageous for warehouse managers to develop strategies that put them in the places where Millennials are being educated and make them aware that there are jobs for them in the warehouse trade.

You can reach out to Millennials in a number of ways including:

• Visiting colleges to educate students about warehousing and the type of jobs available.
• Develop apprentice programs that allow you to educate potential warehouse workers.
• Make work hours more flexible.

Now that warehousing is a 24-hour business due to e-commerce, create a more flexible workweek. For example, some businesses are going to 12-hour shifts four days a week. Or you can make work hours more flexible based on the amount of work on each day. This can translate into employees working longer shifts during busy periods and working less during periods when activity is slow. Allow workers to go home once the work is done.

Enhance The Training Process

To make the training process more efficient and productive, analyze it to determine what kind of training is necessary for which employee.

Consider these issues when analyzing your training for improvements:

• What is expected of the worker?
• How does safety impact the employee’s ability to do his job?
• Does the employee need cross training because his or her job involves other aspects of the warehouse?

There are a lot of reasons why it is difficult to recruit and retain a work force. It is necessary for you to come up with a strategy that allows you to contend with the challenges.