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Warehousing and the Millennial Worker

What can draw this generation to the warehousing industry?

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warehouse workers reviewing a whiteboard plan

As the progression of baby boomer retirees continues–at a blistering pace of 10,000 each day–all industries are feeling the pressure to attract the younger generation. Not only is this need growing, but in terms of keeping up with the faster pace of business, it’s paramount. Warehousing is no different and faces the tough task of keeping millennial (and younger) workforces interested in walking through its doors for the long haul.

Just how do warehouse operators attract qualified hires from the millennial generation? What are some ways not only to bring in these employees–but retain them?

You certainly shouldn’t expect less out of them than any other employee – contrary to some portrayals, they are not lazy or unmotivated but instead an engaged and productive workforce of the future. What you have to do first is re-evaluate the attractive traits your warehouse and industry possess that they might want to work with.

Re-imagine the warehouse

Millennial on Lift TruckMillennial workers have a bad impression of the warehousing industry. It is perceived as dark and dusty, with outdated procedures and boring work in difficult conditions.

Change this perception by highlighting the modern facility, its technologies and direct impact on the overall quality of life. Let them see the fast-paced nature of this industry and how they can fit into the growing technologies and evolving supply chain.

With E-commerce powering so many changes and progressions, warehousing can naturally appeal to the millennial desire for rich experiences. Show them how new ideas and an open mindset help increase productivity and deliverability. A culture of continually striving for new goals can help dispel the thought of warehousing as stodgy and old, which can go a long way toward increasing attractiveness.

Read more: EDC’s advanced order fulfillment system upgrade with Amanda Miller

Use their knack for forward-thinking

Whether it’s new automation systems, picking technologies, or premium safety equipment, warehouses are employing more tech in their operations now than ever before. This trend isn’t going away, and it’s understandable why this shift would cause anxiety. The good news is that millennials, raised in a tech-focused economy, can help not only discover these emerging technologies, but push them forward as well.

Millennials naturally look for ways to streamline processes. They’re adept at using technology to discover information, so as you move away from manual warehouse management tools, millennials can lead the way in synthesizing data collected by your WMS to improve efficiency. If you demonstrate a willingness to consider new approaches, millennials will feel more comfortable contributing to the team. 

Read more: How to calculate automation ROI

Flexibility is key in all aspects

Millennial working in warehouseThe millennial generation values a flexible work environment much more than their predecessors. How does a facility or warehouse cater to that desire?

It’s really all about enhancing productivity. Sure, you could assume that a millennial hire is looking beyond the standard two-week vacation, but really it’s about the delicate work-life balance that we all should be striving for. By installing and utilizing systems such as a vertical carousel or vertical lift module, you can increase productivity and overall efficiency while promoting a more flexible work environment for your staff. In essence, the more automation you have in place, the greater the flexibility for employees to choose their start and finish times. Adding such equipment could even result in more worker-friendly shift schedules to allow more freedom of time off.

Millennials are will be a larger part of this industry’s workforce (or any industry’s, for that matter) for years to come, and only through increased numbers. The investment in new processes and technologies might seem risky, but by re-creating your work environment and collaborating with younger hires, you can build a better warehouse with an eye towards the future.

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