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5 Warehouse Staffing Tips to Reduce Turnover
Posted on 09/24 by Emma Cercone
One of the most frustrating elements of staffing for warehouse jobs is high levels of turnover. When warehouse employees leave their jobs, they leave vacancies that can mean late shipments, lost opportunities and unhappy customers. For employers, it means going back to the drawing board to hire replacement employees – a time-consuming and expensive task. Replacing a warehouse worker can cost as much as $8,500, an expense that could be avoided by focusing more on retention.
What Causes Turnover in Warehouses?
Warehousing struggles with low pay rates, high expectations and sometimes unsafe conditions. Online shopping has created a climate of smaller, more frequent shipments and the belief that any shipment taking longer than two days is late. These conditions can lead to high levels of stress and burnout. No wonder recent warehouse worker turnover rates are hovering around 40% or more, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If employers fail to address the reasons warehouse workers leave their jobs, people will see little reason not to look for greener pastures with another company.
Importance of Adequate Warehouse Staffing
One of the best strategies to reduce turnover is hiring with retention in mind. Many factors come into play in achieving this goal. Avoiding applicants with a history of job hopping, for example, or being transparent with candidates on the demands of the job, so they aren’t surprised when they begin working. Warehouse workers are among the most in-demand, and the need for qualified, reliable people continues to grow. Competition is tight for employers seeking to fill common warehouse jobs such as shipping and receiving clerks, forklift operators, packers and pickers, material handlers, etc. Don’t underestimate the importance of setting yourself apart from the competition to reduce turnover.
5 Tips for Recruiting Warehouse Workers
Shortages of warehouse workers are an ongoing issue that continues to get worse. But there are measures you can take to recruit warehouse workers who can do the job well and will stay for the long haul. Some of the most effective recruiting tips include offering competitive compensation, optimizing warehouse job descriptions, recruiting for diversity, leveraging a flexible scheduling model and working with a warehouse staffing agency. We share advice for putting these best practices into action below.
#1 Offer Competitive Compensation
Competitive compensation can be a significant expense for employers, but in the long run, maybe not as expensive as constant turnover. Warehouse workers look at factors like working conditions and pay when considering a job, with pay rate at the top of the list. Paying a little more than your competitors is a sure way to stand out to someone looking for a new warehouse job. Be sure to include your pay rate in your job description to grab their attention. Set metrics for the job with bonuses for those who overachieve them. The workers like it because they get some control over their pay – the harder they work, the more they earn. Performance bonuses are great for the company, too, because it encourages workers to be highly productive and can aid in retaining the best workers. Highly motivated workers will want to stay because they enjoy the hefty paycheck and know their efforts don’t go unnoticed. Those who do only the bare minimum will become resentful to see their coworkers outpace them – but are unwilling to do anything about it. They may leave the company because they see this compensation model as unfair. You shouldn’t be sorry to see them go. Look at other opportunities to pay workers more for actions that benefit the company as well. Referral bonuses are a great way to get good candidates – people are unlikely to refer a slacker who could be working by their side. Retention bonuses can also be effective – the longer they stay, the more you pay – still cheaper than bringing on a replacement and training them. Bonuses tied to company-wide performance are not only a welcome income boost, but also increase employee engagement. Shift differential pay can be an excellent way to hire for difficult-to-fill shifts. Be sure to include these various bonuses in your candidate-facing marketing. It will encourage people who will benefit from your program to apply. Include employee testimonials – print or even video – in which they discuss being able to maximize their income or what they were able to use that extra pay for. One cautionary note: if you decide to get creative with pay and bonuses, be sure you are rewarding the behavior you want to drive, and that the system can’t be gamed by an unscrupulous employee.
#2 Optimize Warehouse Job Descriptions
Too often hiring managers just grab an old job description when they’re ready to post a job. It’s time to let go of the notion that job descriptions and job posts are the same thing. Job descriptions are meant to be internal. They describe the job duties in excruciating detail and tend to be a little dry. They are meant to cover every possible facet of a job and are often loaded with boilerplate legalese. If managers are in the habit of creating a new job description by cutting and pasting the previous one, it could be extremely outdated. Job Posts Are Marketing. They’re advertising. Their intent is to attract and inform. The best job posts will follow the marketing formula AIDA, Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. Your job post should grab their attention, so they are aware of the job. It should give enough detail about the position to generate interest and enough positive attributes for them to want the job. It must then tell them what to do to be considered for the job. The purpose of a warehouse job description is to tell people what the job is like and why they would be interested. It needs to include your requirements and expectations, but those details should be secondary. It’s better for you to have more people to say “no” to than watch your post gather the online equivalent of dust. Above all, be transparent. One of the leading causes of people leaving a job shortly after starting it is that the job isn’t what they were told it would be. You know to warn applicants about lifting requirements because you don’t want anyone to get hurt or to hire someone incapable of doing the job. Is your warehouse colder in the winter than would be expected? Let people know upfront. If not in the job post, definitely in the first interview. You want to hire people who respond, “No problem, I’ll bundle up,” not people who will be miserable, complaining and unproductive when the mercury drops. If everyone is expected to work evening and weekend overtime during your busy season, make that clear upfront rather than find out later that your new employee has an annual family vacation they consider non-negotiable. Talk about your company culture and performance standards. Setting clear expectations is one of the most effective ways to reduce turnover in warehouse jobs. The right balance of job perks and employer expectations will ensure you attract plenty of your ideal candidates and discourage those who are not the right fit.
#3 Recruiting for Diversity in Warehouses
Diversity, equity and inclusion are common topics in any hiring discussion. Warehouse jobs are no exception. DE&I can bring a lot to the work environment. Companies that focus on building a more diverse workforce are more productive, profitable and dynamic. They grow faster, are able to solve problems more easily and attract stronger candidates. As previously mentioned, people leave their jobs because they could earn more pay elsewhere or because the job was not what they expected, but they also quit because they don’t feel like they fit. They don’t feel “seen” by their managers or don’t mesh with their coworkers. While there can be growing pains at the beginning of your DE&I efforts, in the long run, you are building a welcoming environment where everyone can be their best and appreciated for their differences. Diversity can take many forms. For example racial, cultural, religious, gender, age, or ability. If you’re not sure how to recruit for diversity, partnering with relevant organizations can help. There are schools and non-profits that work with underrepresented communities, but consider also veterans, retirees, or people with disabilities you can accommodate. Warehouse staffing agencies can help you cast a broader net, too. You can also add diversity with those who have been out of the workforce for a while, such as parents returning to work after raising their children, or individuals who need a second chance like former inmates or those recovering from addiction. Expand your definition of what a warehouse worker is, and you’ll increase your hiring pool and improve retention.
#4 Leverage a Flexible Scheduling Model
Few warehouses run just one shift. Some operate two shifts and some three. Even with 24-hour availability, employers don’t always take advantage of the flexibility potential. They run three 8-hour shifts – take it or leave it. But a little creativity might give you the ability to offer potential warehouse workers shifts they won’t be able to get anywhere else, making it more likely they will stay for the long haul. People have various needs. Natural work rhythms. Family or school obligations. A second job. If you’re willing to accommodate them, you’ll keep them. Examples of flexible scheduling include 4-hour shifts, 9 am-3 pm shifts for parents of school-age children, earlier end-times for people with evening obligations, shifts you revisit every semester for college students, or four 10-hour shifts. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Flexible scheduling gives you a competitive advantage if the warehouse down the street offers a dollar more per hour, but with a rigid schedule.
#5 Work with a Warehouse Staffing Agency
Staffing agencies that specialize in warehouse workers can streamline your search. They can take care of sourcing, screening and even onboarding and training warehouse workers. Hiring is what they do. They know how to attract applicants to opportunities, effectively interview candidates and can often foresee obstacles a less seasoned interviewer may not. They can help you fill gaps in your workforce, staff up for busy periods or prepare for growth. There are many advantages to working with a warehouse or general labor staffing agency, including filling jobs quickly, reducing burnout, improving candidate quality and controlling costs. Because warehouse staffing agencies are the employer of record for temporary workers, you don’t have the added expense of workers’ comp and unemployment insurance, payroll expenses and benefit costs.
Warehouse Staffing Solutions with LaborMAX
LaborMAX offers warehouse staffing services to keep you ahead of the competition. When you’re faced with staff shortages, are rushing to meet a tight deadline, or have a large opportunity you don’t want to refuse, LaborMAX can quickly provide workers who are screened, skilled, and safety trained. Ready to get started? Contact our recruitment team today to learn more about LaborMAX and how we can help solve your warehouse staffing challenges.
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