Warehouse & Order Fulfillment: Hiring Good People
Since order picking, packing and storage are highly dependent on labor, this is critical
Finding qualified candidates for warehouse and production work isn’t easy
This is particularly true with supervisors who understand how kitting, ticketing, and storage operations. You want people who know the work, and who can supervise and motivate your employees. Qualified candidates are often the kind of people who aren’t online perusing jobs. They aren’t going to temp agencies. It’s a unique and difficult situation for warehousing operations. Quite often, they must be bilingual to supervise an increasingly Spanish-speaking workforce.
- Get involved locally: Partner with local schools: Attempt to form partnerships with local vocational schools and community colleges. Be active in your local business community.
- Consider old school media: If you believe your target isn’t computer-savvy, consider utilizing newspaper advertising to reach them.
- Prevent the outflow: When you have good floor personnel, be active in retaining them. Aside from compensation, look at the training, management culture, and troubles your qualified floor managers experience. It’s much easier to keep a good one than hire a good one. If your floor managers are happy in their jobs, you’ll have to go through this far less often. Things like providing incentives to meet benchmarks serve the dual purpose of focusing your managers on the big picture while also helping to insulate them from recruiters for other companies.
- Simplify your operation: If your management and IT teams are doing their jobs, floor processing should be simple, even for entry level personnel. Where you need the real experience are the people who are setting up the systems and processes for these people to interact with. The idea is to remove the need for as many qualified people who can oversee qualified processes as you can.
- Automate decision making as much as possible: Typically, value-added services in a distribution center are routine once they’re set up. The first thing to consider is reducing the need for as many “floor judgments” as possible. If people on the floor are required to make too many of these judgments, it exacerbates the lack of qualified supervisors. Utilizing WMS and automated equipment to drive processes helps by reducing the number of needed people, so you can focus on retaining the ones you have.
- Look to specialty temp agencies: In many larger cities, you can find agencies that specialize in providing warehouse and distribution center employees on a temp and/or temp-to-perm basis. This can reduce your training costs and help you identify qualified candidates faster.
- Flatten that training curve: There shouldn’t be many processes that require more than a day or two of training for the average person to execute if you have your warehouse operation designed correctly. If there are, work on redesigning the process. Focus on problem-solving skills and attention to detail. You don’t necessarily need a highly experienced person if you can get the right kind of applicants.
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Marketing Director with three decades of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. He writes on automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations.