Finding and keeping talent has been a struggle for a majority of fulfillment centers and warehouses in the post-pandemic job economy. In fact, a recent survey showed that 73% of warehouse operators are struggling to find qualified workers during the current supply chain labor shortage struggle to find labor and 60% struggle to keep up with demand.
Labor shortages make hiring and retention one of the biggest warehouse management concerns heading into 2023. This is compounded by wage increases from global retailers, leaving mid-size businesses and national chains scrambling to cover their labor needs. Additionally, keep in mind that while B2B fulfillment is still king, eCommerce fulfillment and 3PL services are rising YoY. The enhanced speed and accuracy associated with eCommerce fulfillment puts particular strain on businesses that need help finding or keeping warehouse workers. Labor shortage challenges can be alleviated when your warehouse management rises to meet those challenges head-on.
You can shield your business from supply chain labor shortage when you arm your team with the tech they need. Furthermore, your employees will stay loyal to your business when you provide a safe and productive work environment. There are a few things you can ask yourself about your tech stack that might help improve employee engagement and retention.
First, is your current tech stack being used to its full potential? When you have hardware that isn’t optimized, or is used for tasks it’s not designed for, your workflows suffer. Rolling out new hardware is always an investment, but advanced deployments might be necessary to move the needle for your business. Hardware investments also yield long-term ROI.
If you have the hardware you need already in place, does your current system badly need to be upgraded or optimized for workflows that have changed as your business has grown? This may seem trivial but it can drastically improve employee satisfaction. Millennials in particular want to use tech in the workplace that’s similar to what they use in their time off the clock. This tech familiarity drives higher workplace satisfaction for this particular generation.
Once all of your hardware and software is taken care of it’s time to look at the bigger picture. Does your order-picking strategy make sense for where your business is at now? Order picking is tailored to business size and needs. When was the last time you evaluated your strategy and how much has your business grown since then?
Another question to ask yourself is “Is my WMS optimized?” Evaluate whether or not your WMS is set up for all your inventory tracking and warehouse management needs. WMS adoption is at an all-time high as warehouse businesses and 3PLs move to increase inventory in the face of rising consumer demand YoY.
Warehouse robots, enhanced RFID technology, and pronounced adoption of IoT technology are all on the horizon for warehouse automation. Using automation techniques that make sense for your business can help improve warehouse management and performance. Not only can automation improve management, it can save exponential workload: in a recent survey 59% of respondents reported that their teams saved up to 50 hours per month after WMS adoption.
Another facet of automation lies in reporting. Does your business have analytical reporting tools? Adoption of these tools is on the horizon for many businesses as a natural next step after adopting a WMS. Leveraging reporting tools, with integrations into major voice solutions or RFID management platforms, can help your team understand bottlenecks and move to correct.
Optimize Layouts & Capacity Planning
A majority of warehouse businesses operate multiple locations at, or above capacity. Many of these spaces are under-optimized for the current stockpiling of fast-moving products to keep up with consumer demand. If you’re not optimizing you’re leaving money on the table including less inventory, inefficient processes, and increased potential safety violations. All these factors can turn off potential employees and prematurely burn out high-value individuals. Regularly evaluating slow-moving merchandise via analytics tools can help optimize storage. Use this data to keep fast-moving products accessible and strategically reorganize as needed.
In addition to turning off potential employees, overstocked warehouses can cause automation adoption to grind to a halt, sometimes temporarily or even permanently. Robotics projects typically force a change in rack layout because robotic pallet movers need space to pick up and drop pallets. In overcrowded warehouses robotics projects usually die on the vine because there’s no room for the robots to move freely as needed.
Understand How Technology & Planning Help Employee Retention
Technology optimization and effective warehouse management strategies that optimize your business can dampen the blow of a labor shortages. Use these tips to create a dependable, enjoyable work environment even in the busiest of seasons. DecisionPoint offers many of these solutions and the manpower to help you put them in place. For more information, contact us today.