Tackling Warehouse Staffing: Tips on How to Find Workers and Keep your Business Running

Many across the nation are having staffing issues. This includes almost all industries, from hospitality to manufacturing. Alongside this, is that the warehousing and distribution industries are especially facing these issues. Besides the effects of the pandemic, many attribute warehouse staffing issues to increased demand and historically low supply of new workers. Some are speculating that the average worker has been undergoing a shift in attributes for many years. Coupled with the increase in technical competencies needed, distribution centers and warehouses struggle to find individuals that fit their requirements. Though projected to be a long-standing issue, there are potential steps that businesses can take to remedy these issues.

Hiring and Employee Retention Tips

Creating an environment where employees can succeed is an important step in solving your labor issues. As the average worker is changing and adapting, the workplace needs to as well. Understand that those outside of the regular scope of employment can just as effectively complete tasks and, with accommodation, work harder than the idealized employee. A great strategy to keep in mind when hiring is to consider the worker. Rather than define the job, find a common ground between the applicants and your needs. Explore where you can give workers more flexibility, cater to their skills and abilities, and make them feel indispensable. The answer to the problem isn’t always throwing money at it. Offer benefits to give individuals a personal stake in their work, as well as make them feel included and cared for.

Reducing Labor Reliance

Another solution is to implement methods of reducing the overall amount of labor needed. Specifically, this refers to the streamlining and adaptation of existing processes to increase efficiency. One method that many are beginning to heavily implement is automation. Actions such as Automated Processing, Picking, Sorting, and Manifesting can be an easy way to improve your operations. In essence, removing touchpoints creates a more efficient system and offers increased productivity with less workers necessary. Workers can then be moved to more important and less monotonous work, while machines automatically complete simple tasks. Creating a space for automation can give additional opportunities to reduce downtime, gather data, create future growth, and expand capacities.

Graph of Distribution Center’s reasons for planning to acquire automation technology – from MMH’s February Survey. Many are attributing the shift to warehouse staffing issues.

Though automation has been an increasing technology for years, many businesses are seriously considering implementation of them due to warehouse staffing issues. Research completed by Modern Material Handling this year (see graph above) shows just the drastic increase the labor shortage has pushed Distribution Centers toward automation solutions.

Additional Resources and Information

For more information on the topic, Parcel Magazine published a guide in their most recent issue – which can be found online on their website. Additionally, Modern Material Handling has a great survey about automation relating to the second year of the Pandemic.

Regardless of where or what your business does, you’ve more than likely felt the effects of the labor shortage.  As we continue to navigate these issues, we learn more about how others are finding success, or the pain points others are encountering. At Engineering Innovation, we aim to create automation solutions and utilize our years of industry experience to offer businesses the opportunity to implement affordable, custom, automation.