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Where are all the warehouse staff?

February 22, 2019

The single biggest concern being expressed in the logistics world is around staffing and meeting increasingly challenging deadlines demanded by customers. Skilled warehouse operatives are hard to come by these days, so it raises the question of how am I going to get my warehouse through peak? It is now more important than ever to create a working environment that employees want to come back to day after day, which includes giving operators the right tools for the job. We must take a moment and wonder, can you blame agency staff for following the money, and has the control of power turned in favour of the employee?

The big question on lots of people’s lips within the logistics industry, and in particular within the four walls of the warehouse is “how am I going to staff my warehouse through peak?” Having visited several warehouse operations over the past few weeks, the single biggest concern being expressed is around staffing and meeting increasingly challenging deadlines demanded by customers.

The shortage of skilled warehouse operatives is a major concern, and, in some cases, temporary staff are refusing permanent roles in favour of staying with agencies. It is becoming more prominent that some businesses will increase the hourly rate paid to agency staff over peak periods and this is having a knock-on effect to operations that don’t follow this practice. Can you blame agency staff for following the money, and has the control of power turned and is now in favour of the employee?

The impact of the lack of skilled warehouse operatives within the logistics industry is starting to be felt. Skilled staff can now pick and choose the operations they want to work in, particularly in areas where businesses are densely populated, and there’s nowhere more so than the golden triangle in the Midlands. Their decision making on which operation to work in is not solely based on pounds, shillings and pence but includes variants such as the working environment, the equipment they use and the process they must follow. It is now more important than ever to create a working environment that employees want to come back to day after day, which includes giving operators the right tools for the job, to make their day easier and all too often I see operations that have work arounds or equipment that is not fit for purpose.

Involving all parties in process/continuous improvement is critical, again I often review operational processes with senior members of staff, through SOP’s, and then view the process with the operator completing these tasks and far too often the difference between the expected and actual process is poles apart. It is vital to involve operators in designing and improving operational processes, this creates an environment of inclusion, ownership and eventually belonging, assisting in the all-important staff retention as you approach that critical part of the year.

 

Author:

Jamie Mottershead, Voiteq

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