How to get the most out of your warehouse employees

When Amazon bought KIVA 3 years ago, the material handling world was a whirl with talk of how robots would “re-invent the warehouse business.” While this might be an economically viable option for distribution behemoths, medium to large sized organizations will continue to rely on their warehouse staff to get things done. So while robots might be marked as better, faster, stronger, we think you can get superior results from your current warehouse employees.

The following three elements will help create a cohesive, engaged, and productive warehouse team. The results will be motivated employees and happy customers!

TRAIN & DEVELOP

  • Establish a framework of goals based on operational objectives. These goals can be captured and measured by your warehouse management system (WMS) and displayed in the form of KPI dashboards. KPI’s become measurable and actionable work tools that also serve to train and motivate your team.
  •  Encourage employees to learn new skills. Offering tuition reimbursement plans, or career track discussions with management will make team members feel engaged.
  • Select Team Leaders that have advanced knowledge of the warehouse processes and the WMS. This will be the “Go To” person for motivating employees, follow up training, and peer support.

IMPLEMENT BONUS PROGRAMS

  • Assign teams and display dashboard details that reflect the corporate objectives. Visibility will inspire a sense of team spirit and affiliation to the organization. It will also encourage a friendly competitive spirit!
  • Design incentive programs that drive quality not just speed. For example, your order pickers should be incented for accuracy as well as efficiency.
  • Implement a bonus structure based on productivity increases by task, for example. Reward employees for achieving goals as individuals or as a team. This will encourage team members to work together, improve processes, and generally drive desired behavior.

COMMUNICATE

  • Post the Corporate Scorecard so employees can see how their efforts fit into the big picture of the organization. Everyone wants to feel successful and that they are making a valuable contribution.  
  • Give feedback in a timely manner, whether positive or negative. The goal is to motivate and highlight areas of improvement, so structure more difficult conversations in a way that fosters a win-win environment.
  • Perform bi-annual employee reviews. This is a great opportunity to engage with each employee. You might even gain insight into how they think the operation can be improved in terms of processes, etc. Give your employees that one on one time.   They will feel valued, and you may learn something too!

With the right motivation you can create the warehouse of the future, today. Get the most out of your most valuable asset – your warehouse team.

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