With any industry, it’s important that you’re able to retain employees. Hiring new employees can be expensive due to the time that it takes to train them and recruit them. Not to mention the time invested throughout the interviewing and hiring process, where you’ll likely need to interview several employees before choosing who will get the job.

Need we go on? Hiring costs a lot of time and hence a lot of money, making it very important to retain employees when you do hire them. There are several different strategies for retaining employees, and how you choose to approach employee retention is entirely up to you. Here is a breakdown of some of the best ways to retain warehouse employees.

warehouse picking with a 2-wheeler

Understanding High Abandonment Rates

Before you can fully develop a strategy around high abandonment rates, the warehousing industry as a whole doesn’t have a high retention rate for employees. One of the biggest reasons for this is because very few people are interested in working in the manual labor industry. It’s not an attractive industry for many, and in some cases, many aren’t able to work in manual labor due to the physical tasks required for the job.

So, to start, it’s good to understand the draw to warehouse and fulfillment jobs is much lower than the draw for office jobs or jobs that require less manual labor. The difficulty with this comes because the e-commerce industry is so quickly growing. COVID-19 alone increased the need for warehouse and fulfillment employees by nearly 4%. That may not seem like a large jump, but in reality, it’s huge during a time when the U.S. and World economies were taking a large hit.

Lastly, warehouses are often placed in high population areas where the workforce already has many different options for where they can work. The high demand for employees makes it difficult to retain employees in any job and, in turn, all the more difficult when employees are required to handle physical labor.

Setting Appropriate Expectations

Appropriate expectations will be your best friend as you take on the journey of warehouse employee retention. When it comes to employee retention in this sector, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle. The sooner that you realize that, the better!

Set appropriate expectations for your employee retention and your employee recruitment. If you’re going to be successful in this, you’ll likely have to give a little and meet your potential employees where they’re at.

Determine Why Employees are Leaving Your Warehouse

warehouse picking. A team working to pick items throughout a warehouse

Next up, we’ll need to determine why employees are leaving your warehouse. There could be several reasons for why this is, but guesswork will only get you so far. You’ll need to be intentional about gathering information specific to your warehouse and the employees that are regularly leaving. By noticing trends between the different employees that leave, you can ensure you’ll keep employees in the future.

Here are few different ideas of how you can gather information about why your employees may leave, why they’re currently working with you, and whether they have any frustrations about their current position.

Surveys or Questionnaires

First up are surveys and questionnaires. There are tons of different ways to distribute these and get them in front of your employees. Most likely, the best way to get honest results is to conduct them anonymously and regularly. Perhaps every few weeks or every month until you’re able to get a good sense of your employees’ culture.

After you have a good bit of data on your employees’ thoughts and emotions, you can reduce these surveys’ frequency. Ideally, every workplace should put out surveys to have a good sense of where their workforce is.

Exit Interviews and Interviews with Current Employees

In-person interviews are always a good option as well. While these types of interviews obviously won’t have anonymity, they can have some sort of anonymous option if you have either an outside party or your company’s HR department handle the interviews.

These interviews work well both with current employees and as exit interviews. But as you can imagine, exit interviews will almost always prove to be more honest because employees won’t feel the pressure of potentially losing their position if they say something that might not be received well.

Observe and Watch the Work Culture

Observation is another great tool for gathering data on work culture. Be careful not to make this one too obvious or abusive of the trust that your employees have in you. You never want to seem as if you’re spying on your employees, only that you’re trying to get a good sense of where everyone is at.

Set Retention Goals for Employees

After you’ve been able to conduct some surveys, interviews, and observations of your workforce, it’s time to set a goal for the retention of your warehouse workers. Be realistic with these goals and always work in percentages. For example, if retention has been difficult lately, then perhaps your goal should be to retain 25% of your workforce for more than 2 years. By making this goal, you’ll be looking to keep at least 25% of your workers for more than 2 years.

This is just an example, and there are many different ways you can choose to determine how many employees you seek to retain. Ideally, these goals will always be set in percentages; if you set them based on specific people or positions, circumstances may make them too difficult to obtain.

Retention Strategies that Actually Work

Now that you have your retention goals set up, you’ll need to develop some different strategies for how you’ll keep your employees around. None of these options are absolutes, and none of them need to be used by you and your management system, but each of them does represent some great ideas that all employees, no matter the industry, will value.

Bonuses and Gifts

Bonuses and gifts are straightforward. These bonuses and gifts can be performed based on, or they can simply be thanks to your employees for doing their job well. The holidays, birthdays, and work anniversaries are all great places to consider offering bonuses or gifts to your employees. Remember, a little goes a long way, and a lot can go even further. Gift what you’re able to, but be sure that it’s on a scale so that every employee is equally and fairly treated.

Flexible Scheduling

As with any job, scheduling can be a headache. Offering flexibility to your employees will be extremely attractive to them. Perhaps this means that they’re easily able to take sick days, which means that family emergencies don’t need to be overlooked. No matter the situations that your employees face, they should put their family, mental, and physical health first. You shouldn’t be asking your employees to choose between family and their job, especially if you can help it.

Paid Time Off

Paid time off is another huge benefit to any job. Part of being on salary at a job is the promise that you’ll be able to get paid time off when you go on vacation or take personal days. There are several ways that you can set up your PTO program. Many companies offer more PTO the longer employees have been at a company, and others opt for a less strict policy. Find what works best with your team and stick with it.

Recognize Employees

warehouse picking equipment. Yellow forklift

Recognizing employees is a huge way to keep them around. If someone feels noticed by upper-level management, they might not be as quick to consider a different job and will likely stick around a bit longer. The recognition you offer to your employees can vary, but it should never be neglected. Some of the greatest companies in the world would be nowhere without their employees. Because they continually recognize their employees in that way people want to work there.

Consider offering incentives through compensation or paid time off for employees that constantly go above and beyond. You might even consider an employee of the month program for your warehouse.

Awards Programs

Specific goals can motivate teams to push towards rewards that are given when a goal is achieved. These goals could be anything from finishing a job more efficiently to ensuring that orders are packed correctly and sent out on time. The awards themselves can be cash, bonuses, or other incentives. The sky is the limit when it comes to awards that your employees will enjoy receiving.

At Scout, we’re all about the importance of keeping employees around because of the gained efficiency and effectiveness. The tools we offer help to lighten employees’ loads and bring systems into play that make their jobs easier and more enjoyable. You can find these solutions on our website, and be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more warehouse and e-commerce content.

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