Let’s be real - warehouse jobs are tough, and not everyone is made for it. You’ve probably tweaked your hiring process to weed out the wrong people as much as possible, but you still end up with too much turnover. Improving warehouse labor retention is a challenge as it is competitive, and there are more jobs than available workers right now. You can try to throw money at the problem, but eventually, you’re probably going to be outbid. So, what else can you offer workers? A better work environment and quality of life are major perks to many potential employees. These two ideas can reduce turnover without putting you into a bidding war.
Innovate Shift Schedules
The majority of workers prefer shifts that fit into the ever popular 9-5 schedule. It’s convenient and usually fits in with other aspects of their life, allowing them time to experience family time and other joys outside of work. Of course, most warehouses can’t accommodate this for everyone. Modern expectations demand 24/7 operations, and you need the staff to do it. Most warehouses adopt the three-shift model, which isn’t too bad for two of the shifts - but the overnight schedule is usually very unpopular and hard to staff. This is where you need some innovation.
Start with a survey. Have every employee list exactly what hours they would prefer to work. You might find that there is a niche for late-night and overnight shifts. More importantly, you’ll see an opportunity to arrange labor in a more staggered fashion. Instead of restricting your scheduling to eight-hour blocks, you can run a mix of shifts. You’ll still have the eight-hour core, but they can also be supplemented with four and six-hour shifts, introducing a flexibility into scheduling and can help reduce turnover.
Promote Collective Bargaining
Did you cringe reading that? Stay with it for a minute. Union workers, on average, have lower turnover rates. Now, unionizing your own staff might not be reasonable, but you can steal ideas from unionizing that can help you with retention.
Let’s talk secrets. Union workers aren’t necessarily happier, but they stick around longer for two reasons: first, the union makes them feel a little more “tribal” in regards to their workplace and co-workers. We are a team – and there’s a primal and social aspect to this that is compelling. Regardless of the company, they belong to a group. Fostering similar comradery can reduce turnover.
The second reason union workers stay in a job long-term is because they believe someone is acting on their behalf. Introducing that concept into any workplace can counter-act common perceptions workers have where they feel exploited, disrespected, unappreciated or unheard. How you implement employee advocacy can be tricky, but there are groups who can help you to get started. Sometimes the simplest things can really boost morale, so find ways to learn what is important to your employees and do everything you can within reason.
The balance between labor retention and resource management is not easily struck, but these methods can get you on the right track. If you're still stumped, you can find many more ideas here.