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Warehouse Labor Management: Insights from Industry Leaders

Working in warehouses can be grueling. According to Forbes, in certain e-commerce facilities, workers may walk over 9 miles during a single shift. And automation, in some cases, brings items to packing stations, where employees stand for up to 10 hours daily fulfilling orders. Recruiting for warehouses is becoming more challenging every day, especially among younger workers who are drawn to making money through platforms like TikTok and Instagram over driving a forklift, or picking cases. For this reason, we turned to a few industry experts for their insight into improving warehouse labor management to attract and retain the younger workforce which is so much harder to pin down these days.  Here’s what they had to say.

John Seidl, Director of Partnerships and Alliances, TZA

For TZA’s John Seidl, it’s all about showing employees recognition and appreciation. He believes employees are looking to be seen and to know their contributions are valid and accounted for. “It’s a combination of employee performance and employee engagement, keeping those employees retained, attracting them in the first space by creating a work environment that’s conducive to their support and involvement and having the right tools in place to support that.”

In his experience, employees of today are drawn to working in automated facilities versus traditional manual operations. Warehouses that are adopting advanced automation and robotics, and pairing that with a strong warehouse labor management and rewards programs are seeing higher retention rates. Providing employees with tools and technology that empower them to work smarter is a surefire way to invest in their growth within the company and make them feel valued. 

Steve Simmerman, Head of Global Alliances, Locus Robotics

Steve believes the path to hiring and retaining younger employees lies in providing an environment where employees feel safe, and where the work isn’t strenuous. Before the many technological advancements of the last decade, warehouse employees would leave the operation exhausted at the end of the day. Today, it’s about “making the work life of an associate on the floor safer and easier,” Steve says.

In his experience, robots assisting employees has been a game changer. Robots take care of the more manual jobs, like pulling a pallet jack, giving employees time to focus on higher-skilled tasks. This also minimizes the risk of injury, helping employees feel safe and cared for.

John Moretti, Head of Product, Robust.AI

John of Robust.AI and Steve are of the same mindset. With the proliferation of technology these days and the growth of digital all around us, applying for a job that requires manual processes just isn’t as appealing to younger generations. John asserts that eliminating the dull and repetitive tasks of an employee’s day-to-day is an excellent way to foster engagement and interest, and that can be done with robotics. All of a sudden, an employee’s job title changes to “Robot Operator” and that’s more exciting, enticing even. Working with a robot means, “you’re trained and certified to operate a certain robot, you’re working with that automation collaboratively daily, and you can even troubleshoot and learn how to fix it.” 

We are in the midst of a transformative time. The way we address our warehouse labor management and the needs of a younger workforce will play a significant role in how the current labor challenges play out. It is in the best interest of all of us to empower and support employees in ways that help them feel seen and supported. Providing them with tools that make their day-to-day life easier is a simple step to take. 

Solutions like Made4net’s configurable and scalable warehouse management solution is one of many tools operations can implement to foster both employee and customer success. If you’re looking for ways to level up your supply chain and warehouse labor management, we can help. And, feel free to connect with us, we’re here to support your labor force transformation. 

Thanks to TZA, Locus Robotics and Robust.AI