If you manage a warehouse, you know just how many balls are in the air at one time. You need to be sure processes are coordinated, employees are motivated, and inefficiencies are banished from the premises. The other thing to take into consideration when we talk about employee productivity is worker safety. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual rate of work-related injuries at warehouses and distribution centers is approximately five percent. You’ll notice that’s why our productivity tips are employee-centric, not only due to safety issues but for protecting against warehouse labor shortages as well.
You want to ensure that your warehouse has high productivity and high job satisfaction to increase profitability. There isn’t a secret formula to give you the ideal warehouse, but there are ways any company can reduce errors, improve efficiency, and keep employees happy and motivated. Here are few tips our experience has taught us:
A clean warehouse is a happy, productive warehouse. It also speaks volumes about management’s feelings about the warehouse and the employees that work in it. Consider upgrading lighting to boost the mood and energy levels. Ensure that all packing, strapping, and boxing materials have designated places, so they aren’t strewn all over the floor. A clean, organized environment empowers everyone to work better and is also ideal for surprise client visits.
While warehouse work is often team-driven, incentives have more influence when they are individualized. You can implement monetary and non-monetary incentives to encourage productivity boosts. While monetary incentives are often on the corporate level, they are just as powerful on the ground floor and creates a win-win situation: employees have the opportunity to earn extra money, and the company often benefits in not only a productivity uptick but also reduced overtime. If you work in a union environment, gift cards and other non-pay-for-performance plans are also great motivators.
Informed Standards of Work
When establishing benchmarks and standards, talk to the employees who do the work. Roll up your sleeves and join them on the floor so you can gain an intimate knowledge of what the process is, so you can best assign a fair standard with which to hold employees. Continue to check in on a semi-regular basis to ensure that continual improvements, even small ones, are being implemented and the standard is evolving over time.
Thorough Training and Fair Metrics
Once you have informed benchmarks, you can train to the standard. Give employees clear, thorough training and all the necessary tools to do their jobs. Empower employees to do their jobs and avoid micromanaging. This will breed teamwork and trust. Hold your employees to a reasonable set of performance expectations, and always recognize employees that go above and beyond.
On-going Process Improvement
Warehouses are dynamic areas. If you invest in your team and truly appreciate their opinions, they will find new ways to improve your processes incrementally. Be open to new ideas and make them part of the brainstorming session.
By implementing these tips, you will find your employees are more engaged and invested in the company. Be sure to give them the tools they need and keep them engaged. Check-in with employees to talk about processes and to see if there are any improvements needed or additional training should be provided. Tapping into their knowledge and rewarding their efforts is a wonderful place to start as well as a path to long-term success.