Supply chain operators stepped up warehouse hiring in April, even as job growth in transportation and freight industries slowed. During April, the sector added 5,400 warehouse jobs according to the Labor Department, marking the fourth straight month of growth. The industry has added 70,000 warehouse jobs over the past 12 months.
This uptick in warehouse hiring comes as rapid e-commerce growth pushes companies to open new fulfillment centers to increase speed-to-market. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. online sales jumped 14.2% last year generating an estimated $513.6 billion.
Even as operations need to continue to staff up new warehouses and distribution centers, talent shortages and high turnover can stall their efforts. Sticking to proven best practices in warehouse recruiting, training, and managing today’s talent can ensure companies have a strong workforce.
Developing a Talent Strategy
In order to overcome warehouse hiring challenges, companies need to develop a best-in-class recruiting, training, and retaining strategy. Supply chain leaders have the skills and experience necessary to take ownership of talent by successfully developing strategies and making wise investments, as these same skills are inherent in managing supply chain management.
The key to the strategy is to think about talent as you think about supply chain management:
- Have a clear vision/strategy/plan
- Emphasize results, and tie activities to supply chain KPI’s
- Ensure the continuity of talent including clear risk mitigation strategies for ensuring talent availability
- Make intelligent decisions on whether to recruit external talent or develop existing resources
- Continuously evolve and improve with the changing market forces
- Make talent a priority before a crisis forces you to do so
Many organizations are developing a creative list of ideas to attract and retain workers in addition to the approach of simply offering more money. Below is a list of best practices to keep in mind for your strategy.
- Clear and detailed job descriptions help manage expectations and help workers understand where they fit into the big picture
- Ensure employees understand the big picture of the job and the impact of their work
- Consider target selection to tailor work experience to fit an individual’s interest areas
- Offer creative benefits including tuition reimbursement and more vacation time
- Provide a 401(k) savings program
- Have high quality training and on-boarding processes
- Streamline training making it quick, simple, and understandable allowing the new employee not to fall behind goals
- Keep training classes small to allow both the trainer and new employee the ability to engage with each other
- Support supervisors with training and coaching to keep them current
- Treat employees with respect – as one executive said, talent joins companies but leaves supervisors – and often they leave in the first 120 days
- Retrain supervisors and managers regarding how to treat employees
- Create clear, predictable work schedules - employees highly value stability and predictability
- Create flexible work arrangements where possible
- Develop a career path with progressive pay raises available based on longevity, and offer opportunities to those who are inclined to move up to management
- Keep injured employees on the job, but in another role
- Review work processes and eliminate difficult, complex, or unnecessary processes – employ LEAN principles
Warehouse jobs hiring is extremely challenging work. The skills required to be successful in a supply chain logistics organization are diverse, complex, and broad. This combined with the current market situation where the demand for most of these skills exceeds the supply creates a huge business challenge.
However, by continuously improving your warehouse jobs hiring strategy, you can maintain a strong pool of qualified recruits, streamline training, and lower turnover rates. The best practices throughout this article have been tested and proven over the years in complex, diverse, and global supply chains. Use this opportunity to renew your supply chain talent strategy and systems to create the talent and culture that you need in the intensely competitive global environment. Applying these learnings will help enable you to make supply chain talent a competitive advantage for your business.