Retaining Warehouse Workers Is Harder Than Ever. Feedback Can Help.

Post-pandemic, more and more warehouse workers are leaving behind their jobs in search of a better working environment. Those who stick around are often dissatisfied or unhappy with the work they’re doing, putting them at risk of leaving, too. 

That can make the job of a warehouse manager feel overwhelming. Not only are you tasked with keeping processes running smoothly and products being created, packaged, and shipped on an efficient timeline, but you also need to juggle the needs and wants of your employees.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone. Implementing a feedback program and using it to cultivate open communication within your business can help you gain a true understanding of what’s going on with your employees. Armed with that information, you can make changes and take action that will help employees in a meaningful way.

What’s Happening in the Warehouse Setting

Like nearly every other part of the workforce, warehouses have been significantly impacted by The Great Resignation, in which employees in the American workforce consider leaving behind their current job for “greener pastures.”

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When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, warehouses frequently grew headcount as employees in other industries, such as retail and food service, were driven to look for different work when their jobs were disrupted. When they made that switch, employees often found that they were more satisfied in the warehouse setting, working fewer hours for better pay and increased benefits.

But in the last year, the trend has moved in the opposite direction. Warehouses now face increased turnover, even in the face of increased manufacturing needs, both seasonally and in general.

Most warehouses have a surge in hiring in the months leading up to the holiday season, with many increasing the workforce by at least 20 percent. This year, though, as the holiday surge approaches, warehouses face a record level of unfilled job openings.

Right now, there are multiple warehouse job openings per applicant. That leads to a preponderance of unfilled roles — with existing employees having to pick up the slack.

Pain Points for Warehouse Workers

Because it can be incredibly difficult to fill open roles when there’s a scarcity of applicants, the best plan is to retain your current employees. But the nature of warehouse work can make that challenging.

Warehouse workers report dissatisfaction related to many aspects of their jobs, ranging from the physical demands to the risk of injury. Those in the warehouse setting express unhappiness related to:

  • Long hours standing or walking to accomplish tasks
  • Unrealistic productivity demands
  • Safety hazards
  • Undesirable schedules, including night work
  • Expectation for overtime work to be accommodated

While many of these issues relate to the nature of work in a manufacturing or packaging setting, most can be mitigated, at least partially, to create better work conditions. 

How Listening to Your Employees Can Help

While you can guess at what your employees are experiencing, you don’t truly know what they need and want without asking them. You aren’t walking in their shoes — so you need to ask them whether the shoes fit.

Incorporating a feedback program into your company culture can help in that regard. Once a feedback program is up and running, you can regularly encourage your employees to provide their real-time, honest, and unfiltered feedback about the good, the bad, and the ugly of their daily work.

Not only will this help you identify areas where company-wide intervention is needed, to eliminate a safety hazard, for example, but it can also help you see when an individual employee is struggling. While it’s easy to see your workforce as a singular entity, the trick to effective employee retention is seeing your employees as individuals and understanding their specific needs.

Use your weekly broadcast message on occasion to emphasize that you want to hear from your employees. You want to know and understand how they’re doing and how they’re feeling. Knowing that information can help you take steps before a small problem becomes a big one — or an employee burns out entirely and leaves. 

Retaining your employees is an important responsibility. Knowing what they need and how they’re doing can help you do that. Sign up for a free demo to learn how we can help!