What Warehouses Can Do to Keep Workers (and Keep Them Happy)




The warehousing industry faces an interesting future. With increased demand to support online purchasing, which continues to grow, the need for warehouses has skyrocketed, and with it, the need for staff to make them run smoothly.

The shining heroes of these huge ecosystems of things are the “pickers”, who must navigate these huge spaces, and pick the right items to go into each shipment and prepare the packages for delivery. This job doesn’t take a whole lot of education or experience, just dedication. This means that there’s been a wealth of staff willing to do the job.

But with unemployment rates low, there’s a new squeeze in staffing. Here are a few things to think about in terms of warehouses staying competitive, attractive, and relevant to job seekers.

Offer Flexibility.
Flexible off time, flexible work hours, and even more options for benefits packages can help employees configure a working life that really works for them, and that encourages longevity of the work relationship. It also shows that workers are not only respected as workers, they are respected as people with complex, demanding lives outside of work. It’s worth considering performance pay, as well (just not as the only option.)

Make Sure You Care (and That it Shows).
A little bit of appreciation can and does go a long way, whether it comes in the form of regular get-togethers on the company dime, periodic potlucks, or less structured time where the crew gets to spend time together not running from order to order. Some employees will stay if they like their coworkers, supervisors, and environment over a strict monetary difference.

Cultivate a Culture
As with most other industries, employees rarely quit positions — they quit bosses, supervisors, and coworkers. Company culture has been a hot topic for some years now, but there’s some disagreement about what the right culture is. Part of the reason for that is that not every culture is right for every group. The most important outcome of a company culture is a sense of healthy, pleasant, effective collaboration that doesn’t squash the people the workers are outside of work.

Be Mindful of Environment
Though it might be difficult to imagine a warehouse as welcoming, fairly small changes can make a big difference in terms of employee well-being. Think about the lighting fixtures — is it harsh fluorescent? Does it buzz, just at the edge of your hearing? What about the availability of liquids and snacks? Is music allowed, and if so, how is it selected?

Also, consider the logistics situation at your facility, and ask your employees where they see room for improvement. It may be that you can increase efficiency with minimal overhead, but reward those good problem-solvers with pay raises based on the increased efficiency. Creating situations where your employees see real reward from speaking up with helpful improvements can solidify your warehouse as a must-have job.

Compensate Fairly
In an increasingly scarce market for talent, employees truly have their selection of positions. It’s on you as a company to understand what competitive pay means for each position, and adjusted for industry and location. If a neighboring warehouse pays $0.50 more, they’re very likely to take your employee. Four bucks a day might not seem like that much, but $80 a month is a big enough deal to lose employees over.

In addition to strict monetary compensation, make sure you’re offering comparable perks, and that your culture is welcoming, rewarding, and has room for employee advancement. If you discover that your packages aren’t competitive, it’s time to do some analysis and see what can be done to bridge that gap. If you’re unable to raise pay, what else can be done at low- or no-cost levels that will help elevate your company in the marketplace?

If you’re looking for local statistics or pay trends, please request our local report here.