Six Ways to Attract and Retain Warehouse Workers

Worker retention and attracting top talent in the warehouse are two of the trickiest situations to navigate. Labor is a huge operational cost for any warehouse, and having to constantly replace talent due to a high turnover rate can make those costs stack up drastically, due to the efforts needed for recruitment and training. When looking into how to attract warehouse workers—as well as how to deal with warehouse employees you want to retain—you need to take an analytical look at the current work environment you are creating and promoting to potential employees, as well as the opportunities your competitors are offering.

warehouse worker operating a machine

The Challenges Facing Warehouse Management and Employees

Before diving into tips for retaining warehouse employees and attracting the best talent, it is important to develop an understanding of the challenges and reasons that employees are harder to attract and keep on board. Some of these challenges include:

  • Keeping talent past the first three years. As an employee goes into their first years of employment, they will begin to analyze the benefits of working at the company and staying long term. An employee will look into potential for growth, a positive relationship with the management team, and opportunities for training. While they may be enthusiastic about the new job, particularly in the first year, they may begin to look elsewhere if they feel it isn’t worth staying on long-term with the company.
  • Dealing with strong competition in areas with a high-density of warehouses. The more warehouses in your area, the more you will have to worry about competition taking your potential or current employees. When jobs are abundant and people to fill them are limited, potential employees have the luxury of shopping around and finding a company that best fits their needs. If you aren’t able to keep up with the competition, you will be left scrambling for talent.
  • Handling the training process. Technology is constantly changing, and in addition to training new employees, it is necessary to continue to train current employees as new practices come into play. This can already be a lot to handle for human resources, and can become much more difficult when there are constantly new employees coming in who need to be trained. Additionally, employees who aren’t receiving ample training will feel out-of-the-loop and lack the confidence and skills they need to do their job as productively as possible.
  • Shifts that aren’t attractive to the modern employee. Demanding warehouse needs often mean long shifts that are rigid and inflexible, and those aren’t always the most attractive option for employees—due to both the fatigue and the lack of flexibility that comes along with it.
  • The evolving workforce. Generation X is slowly ageing out of the workforce, and leaving jobs open to be taken. The problem, however, is that there isn’t as expansive of a pool of millennials who are coming in to fill this gap. Many millennials simply aren’t interested—or are unaware—of the opportunities that exist in warehouses. With less millennials coming in to fill these jobs, a staffing shortage dilemma is arising.

If you want to ensure retention and attract the best talent, you have to focus on the factors that members of the workforce are looking for, as well as the unique needs of your community. After analyzing these aspects, you can work towards establishing an atmosphere that fosters those requirements, and be better equipped for retaining warehouse employees. Here are some actionable steps you can take to create the best environment for current and future employees. 

Offer Competitive Wages

This is probably the most obvious point when establishing tactics on how to attract warehouse workers and retain current employees, but it is one that many managers aren’t always willing to face. In an annual survey of warehouse workers, for the past eleven years, pay has been listed as the number one priority among employees. As the top benefit of acquiring a job, it is no surprise that employees are looking for fair wages that accurately reflect their value to a company. When it comes to establishing rates, it is necessary to do your research and determine what your competitors are offering to potential employees at the same level. If one person is deciding between two opportunities, they will more than likely turn to the one that offers the best pay—even if is only higher by a small amount.

Provide Benefits and Incentives

Great benefits and incentives can also persuade employees to stay onboard for the long haul. Benefits like health care and retirement saving plans can make a huge difference in the lives of employees, so many consider this to be incredibly valuable when looking for a job. Other incentives like bonuses, paid time-off, and more can also be significant for current and potential employees. Training programs are also essential, as it will help employees feel up-to-date and fully confident in their function in the warehouse. Any benefits or incentives that can improve the quality of life both on and off the job can be a huge factors when an employee is deciding whether to take a job—or whether to leave the one they have.

Offer Flexible Scheduling

When deciding how to attract warehouse workers, it is important to take a look at how potential employees may view your scheduling process. Flexibility is a necessity to many workers, and can be a major deal-breaker when it comes to considering a job. By offering flexible scheduling options, you may even open up your recruiting to a wider range of workers, like students, people with parental duties to attend to, or those with other jobs. Flexible scheduling creates a much more attractive environment, as it gives workers better ability to balance their personal life with their professional life in a way that works best for their specific needs. 

Create Relationships with Local Institutions

There are likely many people actively looking for jobs in your area, but you may need to take the first step to let yourself be known in the community of potential employees. As you are going through your recruitment process for new warehouse talent, reach out to institutions in your area, like community and four-year colleges, non-profits, and community groups. This can be particularly useful for bridging the gap with the millennial workforce, especially when you target educational centers. You can establish and promote your business and work opportunities with groups who may not even be aware of the jobs available, and tap into a valuable resource of talent.

Cultivate Relationships Between Employees and Management

For many employees, it is important to have a solid relationship with management. Positive relationships between managers and employees can make a huge difference in the overall job satisfaction. If an employee enjoys working for their manager and respects them, they are much more likely to want to continue working under them. Managers who have less positive interpersonal communications with employees may have a harder time retaining them. An open communication channel is also key. Employees will want to feel comfortable approaching their superiors about any needs or difficulties. If communication isn’t easily accessible, employees will feel less heard—and much less convinced to stay on board. 

Assess the Unique Needs of Your Employees

Every market is different, and the employees in your area may have different needs than the employees in the next city over. Using your strong communication skills and solid relationships with employees, begin to assess some of the needs they have, and see how you can address them and make a more attractive work environment. If your warehouse is more remote, for example, some employees might have difficulties with transportation. Employees with children may be faced with the challenges of expensive daycares that are putting a burden on their wallets. Creating an environment that is worker-friendly and addresses the needs of employees can make a huge difference in both retention and attracting new talent. Taking steps to cater to these needs can mitigate challenges your workers face, and make the work environment far more attractive, as it helps them maintain a good quality of life.

While turnover rates may be high, it is possible to take steps towards retaining warehouse employees and creating an environment and job that is attractive to new talent. By taking action and implementing these steps, you can develop a warehouse working community that is highly sought after by employees in an industry that is increasingly competitive between employers.

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