Using technology to support and retain your warehouse personnel

In an era of high employment & competition for warehouse staff, how can you compete and retain your valuable staff?

If you happen to have a warehouse near any of the large Amazon fulfilment centres, you are probably haemorrhaging warehouse staff as we speak. But it’s not just the bigger players in the market that are the challenge. In an era of high employment and expensive travel costs, many distribution firms are struggling to hire or even retain their warehouse personnel.

I know of one mid-sized electronic parts distributor who has recently relocated to Carlow from Baldonnell as he simply couldn’t recruit necessary staff against higher paying, international mammoths.

But the issue isn’t just pay. After 25 years working closely with wholesale distribution companies in Ireland, we have seen a sea change in the needs of medium to large wholesale and distributors. Not only is there increased competition for sales, decreased availability of products, transport delays, reduced margins, increased operational costs, but companies now also need to be acutely aware of providing an assistive and supportive environment for the warehouse operations to retain their essential workers.

Warehouse staff need to feel appreciated. They need to feel valued, their roles to become efficient, to become less cumbersome. They need to see investment in their duties and benefit from technology to help them be as efficient as possible.

Introducing fully integrated and affordable warehouse technology devices to your day-to-day processes will revolutionise how your organisation benefits, how your customers benefit, and also reward your staff loyalty.

Imagine recruiting for the next warehouse vacancy and being able to positively up-sell the role and your support of the department with assistive technologies, proven efficiencies, attention to detail, streamlined pick routes, and processes that will distinguish you from a.n.other warehouse with cumbersome paper processes.

Fully integrated warehousing solutions have become not just a nice to have but a necessity for today’s busy warehouse.

Whilst counting steps on your smart watch may have become on-trend in recent years, the long weary warehouse operative would love to have their warehouse steps reduced. To not have to walk back to the computer after every order to print off more manual paperwork. To have a handheld device that feeds them their next task, that lets them workflow their way through correct picking and despatch, routed around the warehouse in the most efficient route, saving time, frustration, and steps.

Why not empower your users to be more flexible and automated, to reduce their wasted time, and by doing so improve their productivity. We are not asking them to work harder or faster, we are helping them feel more valued, enhance their performance, and enable them to contribute to the competitiveness and sustainability of your organisation.

In a warehouse team of just 4 full time staff, your warehouse can improve productivity to rival that of a team of 5 and for an investment of less than the cost of a single extra wage.

Helping staff reduce their human-error mistakes, mis-picking and wrong despatches will improve your customer satisfaction. More importantly, in an era of low margins the actual cost involved in processing said returns, and despatching replacements can easily dwarf the original sale margins.

Extend that efficiency and accuracy to seamless processing of orders through to handhelds, to live courier integrations without data rekeying, without computer bottlenecks, and without frustration.

Rewarding your staff loyalty and providing a better work environment isn’t a selfless act. It also enables you to increase productivity and numbers of items shipped without increasing staff. To reduce picking and shipping errors, to plan more accurately, and forecast your stock needs and resources required.

Is there still fierce competition and escalating wage expectations in the sector? Absolutely and it may not disappear any time soon.

If your cost of despatch can be reduced, and real margins can be increased, mistakes reduced, customer service improved, daily despatches increased…. can your leaner and more productive organisation begin to reward your warehouse staff and help longer term staff retention? Offer performance-based bonuses? Set despatch quantity targets? set minimum order-to-despatch time targets and rewards?

Allow your productivity to reward the team and your bottom line. It truly is a win-win combination.

Exchequer Business Management Systems

Alan Connor

Commercial Director