Making the Right Warehouse Staffing Decisions

Making the Right Warehouse Staffing Decisions


Despite automation and robots in warehouses, workers are still the industry’s backbone. Proper labor planning is essential for warehouse productivity and employee satisfaction.

A short-staffed warehouse increases the work burden and pressure on staff. Underutilized capacity creates higher than necessary cost. At some point, cuts are likely, to affect workers and wages, bonuses, and benefits.

Strategic workforce planning is important to balance productivity and costs. The tips in this post will help you deliberate on warehouse staffing.

Understand the factors that contribute to higher warehouse staffing

Studies point to certain contributing factors for higher warehouse staffing:

  • Inventory volume – More material on-site requires more hands to manage it
  • Inventory complexity – A higher number of SKUs are more difficult to manage, and require more hands
  • Warehouse space – A larger physical space is associated with higher warehouse staffing
  • Warehouse transactions – A higher number of transactions per year requires more hands to process them

The combined effects of all these factors must be considered in warehouse workforce planning.

Softer factors impacting warehouse staffing

Other factors play a role in the decision to hire more employees or continue with existing staff:

  • Budgetary challenges – A hiring freeze may result directly from a budget cut
  • Perceptions of work capacity – Positive perceptions about productivity and efficiency may remove the desire or need to improve performance by hiring more energetic or experienced workers
  • Legacy worker requirements – Seasoned long-timers may be deemed too valuable to let go. In the event that they must, a generous retirement package and a respectful generational transition will become necessary.

Create retention initiatives

Keep your best staff is particularly significant advice in the warehousing industry that grapples with the paradox of high unemployment rates and difficulties finding qualified workers. It stands to reason that retention initiatives should be a part of your workforce planning. Here are some things to think about:

  • Is there a good balance of workload and employee count? Tired and overworked workers will quit if they continue being stuck in the same situation.
  • Do you have flexible work schedules? Explore the possibility of offering scheduling options such as:

– Flextime (a flexible start and end time during a range of core operational hours)

– Compressed work week (e.g. four 10-hour days versus five 8 hour days)

– Split shifts (workers split their time across two shifts)

– Shift work (workers can choose morning, evening, or overnight shifts)

– Part-time (engage a warehouse staffing agency to supplement with part-time workers as needed)

  • Do you offer attractive wages, bonuses, and benefits? Do workers have career advancement opportunities? While warehouse workers have low career advancement opportunities, this isn’t always the case. Depending on worker skills and strengths, and your business goals, you can create paths for upward mobility.

Engage a good warehouse staffing agency

To execute your workforce plans, you need a staffing agency specializing in placing skilled candidates into various warehouse jobs. Ideally, the agency should be able to provide not only staffing (temporary workers) but also permanent direct hires and work with your internal team in managing candidate bandwidth as required. Everest Recruiting can provide all this and more. Contact us to implement your workforce plans successfully.

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