Warehousing Retention: Employee Retention Strategies That Work

Warehousing is subject to a large amount of turnover. Warehouse worker retention is often an issue, especially during certain parts of the year. Employee turnover is driven by human issues, which is why addressing turnover always takes a human touch. It’s not something that can be reduced to numbers or solved by an algorithm. It needs a live person listening to the concerns of your employees and collaborating with them to implement a solution. WorkHound specializes in helping you listen to what your employees really want and need so you can find the right solution to your warehousing turnover.

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The Warehousing Industry by the Numbers

The biggest issue with warehousing retention is the sheer volume of employees who are in flux at any given time. Almost a third of all warehouses have a turnover rate of 10 to 25 percent. This means that as many as a fourth of their employees are new hires who may be going through training. In fact, over 40 percent of warehousing leaders state that it takes up to two months to fully train an employee. Another 21 percent stated that it could take as long as three months to get new hires up to speed.

What does this translate to? In the worst case, it means you could have a fourth of your team in training at any given time. As some new hires complete this process, high turnover results in just as many seasoned employees leaving, starting the process all over. Even worse, upwards of 30 percent of warehouses experience 25 to 100 percent turnover. It’s possible a warehouse with a very high turnover rate could have an entirely new team in place within a few months. It’s even possible, though rare, to have over 100 percent turnover for a year. This means every single employee has left, been replaced, and then had those replacements also quit. This is especially common with temporary workers.

What does this cost you? It can be $7,000 or more per worker once you add up all of the costs. For those with special certifications, unique experience, or rare skills, the cost can be even more. If a large amount of your workforce quits, the costs in delays and lost contracts also need to be taken into account. Your warehouse can only be as effective as its staff, and when those employees are new or are so unhappy that they’re looking for other jobs, they’re not performing well.

How Turnover Affects Your Business

We’ve already mentioned the high cost of training new workers, but a high turnover rate affects your warehouse in a number of other ways, too. When you have new workers who are still learning in addition to open jobs that you haven’t filled yet, your warehouse isn’t at its best. You won’t be able to load and unload as many trucks, reducing your overall productivity.

This drop in productivity affects your bottom line, but it also ripples outward. Warehouses don’t exist in a vacuum—you’re a vital link in the supply chain. If your warehouse isn’t as productive and efficient as it could be, it can delay the truckers bringing products in and taking products out. It can delay shipments to retailers and to customers. When your clients realize the problems in the supply chain center around your warehouse, they may begin looking at alternatives.

Inconsistent Quality Affects Your Reputation

In addition to a decrease in productivity, having so much of your workforce in flux at any given time affects your warehouse’s quality of performance. When your staff is made up of mostly trained individuals who have been with you for at least six months, they’re efficient. They understand your processes and have had time to learn how to work together as a team.

When you are always rotating through people, though, this doesn’t happen. You don’t have consistent workers, so you cannot have a consistent workflow. Your internal processes become disrupted. There’s an underlying current of instability to your team because that team is always changing. Seasoned workers start feeling as if they have to carry more weight because they understand your warehouse. New workers aren’t quite settled in yet and may still be uncertain of policies and procedures.

The end result is that your workers don’t feel like a team. It may even reach the point where most of your employees don’t have an interest in getting to know each other or learning how to work together because they know turnover is so high. This impacts your overall company culture, too. It’s hard to have any sort of culture when employees have no interest in participating in one. Veteran staff may be preparing to leave, newly trained employees may already be feeling the stress that comes with an unstable team, and your new hires will certainly be picking up on all of this.

The Disconnect Between Workers and Management

Another business side effect of high turnover is the disconnect between workers and management. New workers may not feel comfortable coming to management with concerns so soon after being hired. They do not want to be labeled as an employee who complains about things. Some may even fear being fired before their probation period is up if you have such a period. Those who are temporary may not feel like it’s their place to bring up concerns because they know they will only be working for a set period.

Your veteran employees may already feel burnt out and are preparing to leave. Those who aren’t looking for new jobs may voice some concerns, but they may feel as if doing so will not help. Those who have worked in numerous warehouses may have resigned themselves to changing jobs every few years or sooner.

This is where WorkHound comes into play. We work to heal this disconnect. By boosting communication between your employees and your leadership, you can more clearly see the breakdowns in your processes. Your employees will be able to voice their concerns in a safe, anonymous manner, while your leadership team will have concrete information to use when making decisions.

Turnover Damages Your Reputation and Costs You Future Clients

High turnover will eventually result in your warehouse being less efficient. An inefficient warehouse with a constantly changing staff will affect how your customers see your business. Delays and other issues will damage your reputation, which can cause you to lose current and future clients.

It can also make it more difficult to hire knowledgeable employees. Those in the warehouse industry will talk about their experience at your warehouse with others. You may get a reputation as a bad employer. The negatives people take away from working with you may get exaggerated, resulting in fewer workers applying for jobs. This can make it difficult to fill all of your open positions, leading to a reduced staff and lowered productivity even more.

How High Turnover Affects Your Customers

Why does high turnover damage your reputation so much? As touched on earlier, warehousing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If your warehouse is behind schedule, it has a domino effect on your clients:

  • Their products are delayed and arrive late, which affects their reputation with their customers.
  • This delay can result in customers buying from other businesses, reducing their profits.
  • Customers may come to view your clients as untrustworthy, leaving them for competitors.

All of this comes from high employee turnover. It’s a problem that affects you, your workers, your clients, their customers, and everyone else along the supply chain. This is why high warehousing turnover is such a problem. It’s also why WorkHound exists.

“Using a platform like WorkHound has really transformed our way of getting feedback from our drivers, so they can do it anonymously, and they have the comfort of knowing that. And then it gives them another line of communication.”

– Maribeth Knueve Vice President of Dry Van Operations, Marten Transport

How WorkHound Works on Communication to Boost Retention

Communication, or more specifically, the lack of communication, is one of the biggest barriers to retention. When workers don’t feel as though they can communicate their needs to management, these managers don’t know how to address concerns. They either do nothing, or they make assumptions that often turn out to be incorrect.

WorkHound has created a process that will help your employees communicate their needs to management so you can take action. Doing so will improve your work environment, boost worker morale, and ultimately make your company a place people want to work rather than one people are looking to leave.

Identify the Issue

The foundation of the WorkHound process is our anonymous feedback system. Your team installs a simple app on their phones that allows them to leave feedback anonymously. We will check in with employees at least once a week. We ask them questions regarding how they feel about their job, what concerns they have, and what they wish management knew. While a lot of focus is on what’s wrong, we always ask for positive feedback as well. We know it helps you to know what employees are very happy with. This also gives your team a chance to give shout-outs to those who have gone above and beyond.

Gathering this anonymous feedback gives you the data you need to make informed decisions. Why do we keep feedback anonymous? Some workers may not want to have their names attached to comments. They don’t want to build a reputation for complaining, either. By guaranteeing their anonymity, employees know they can speak freely. In some serious cases, we can ask an employee to reveal their identity, but it’s always the employee’s choice.

Understand the Problems and Craft Solutions

Now that you know what concerns your employees have, you can begin brainstorming how to solve the problems. You can look at solutions such as providing more work/life balance, improving incentives, creating a better culture, and more. We do offer a number of resources in the form of ebook guides that may help you here. These guides outline common issues we’ve encountered before in our years of gathering worker feedback.

Here Are Extra FREE Resources We Have That Can Help!

Invest in Employees

Studies have shown that when a company invests in its employees, they stay with that company longer. Look for ways you can do this. Provide additional training for those who want it, especially those who may want to branch out and learn new skills. Provide clear paths for advancement. Offer flexible shifts. Look for any way you can show your employees you’re invested in them and value them.

Follow Up

Once you have a new solution in place, it’s not the end of the process. This solution, while based on employee feedback, may still not hit the mark. WorkHound will gather feedback on the solutions you implement so you can determine if these solutions are actually working. We meet with your contact team weekly to share this feedback, then hold an executive review with your management team every 90 days. This will help you track your new initiatives and determine if they’re effective.

Use Feedback to Provide Correct Upfront Expectations

One of the reasons many people leave jobs across all industries is because the day-to-day of the job isn’t as they expected it to be. The feedback we gather can help you determine what expectations employees have and where those expectations are not being met. This allows you to adjust your hiring, onboarding, and training processes so they align better with the jobs your employees will perform. Keeping everyone on the same page helps reduce the miscommunications and misunderstandings that often lead to turnover.

Repair Trust Over Time and See Your Retention Rate Increase

By listening to your employees, addressing their concerns, and building a stronger relationship with them, you help repair their trust in the industry. Many warehouse workers have worked at multiple warehouses, and they may not have had the best experiences there. Their trust in the industry and all employers in it may be broken.

By showing that you are willing to listen, address complaints, and invest in your employees, you can begin rebuilding that trust. It won’t happen right away. It’s going to take time, and a few small changes may not be enough for everyone. However, if you continue to listen and work with employees to address their concerns, eventually you will rebuild this trust. Your employees will feel valued, and they will see value in staying with your company. Your retention rate will increase, reducing your costs and building up your reputation with your clients.

Success Stories

Impactful, company-wide changes for 70k+ workers

20k+ retention opportunities so far in 2021

Case Studies

Warehouse Resources


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“WorkHound gives the drivers a voice. It gives them a platform where they can go and say, ‘this is my problem,’ without fear of retaliation. It’s about getting past that fear. We want everyone to know that it’s an open platform. We encourage drivers to tell us everything they want to tell us because we may not know something is going on.”

– Rachel Lovell Vice President of People Operations, Ascend

Ready to Partner with WorkHound?

If your retention rate is lower than you’d like and you’re spending a large amount of money on hiring and training, it’s hurting your bottom line. You could save that money for growing the business. Just by boosting your retention rate by 10 percent, you’ll see significant savings. Boost it by 20 or 30 percent, and the effect will be dramatic.

WorkHound is here to help you improve your communication and dispel the assumptions you have about what your employees want. With the anonymous feedback we gather, you will have the data you need to begin building trust with your employees. Contact us today to learn more about how WorkHound can help improve your warehouse worker retention.

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