Turnover in the Warehouse
By George Anderson
Attracting and keeping good employees is a major challenge for retailers. This is as true in distribution center operations as it is in store-level, reports Grocery Headquarters.
Many retailers, however, go about staffing warehouse positions the wrong way, according to Kimberly Waterman, vice president of Prime Recruitment Services in Phoenix, Ariz.
“A common mistake that warehouse personnel departments make is to believe that due to the nature of job they need to find enough bodies to throw into the warehouse, give them the minimum training and hope that enough of them stick it out,” she said. “Those distribution centers that operate this way need to rethink their recruitment philosophy or they’ll forever be recruiting more personnel than they need, doing extra training and being left with fewer, less qualified workers in the end. I advise my clients to look for a better educated potential employee.”
Taking extra steps in the screening process will help to keep hiring miscues to a minimum, said Ms. Waterman.
“Operators waste a great deal of time and money targeting the wrong potential employee. I recommend that recruiters test all potential employees. This cuts out the wasted resources used to train unscreened hires who ultimately don’t make it. Despite the reliance that operators now place on computer-assisted picking strategies, an under-educated order picker will still make more mistakes, and mistakes are what ruin the productivity of a warehouse.”
Ed Clark, principal of Clark Associates in Omaha, recommends the use of computerized analysis tools such as the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT) to find the right person for the job.
Keeping them, he said, will require many businesses to develop a new attitude and approach to workers. “In retail we keep hearing about how important the store associates are to a retail company’s success. This is certainly true, but it is just as true that a company’s distribution center associates should be given equal consideration. The company has to strive to fill the warehouse with the best people possible, give them the best training and then do everything that it can to keep those employees. There’s too much of an attitude that employees in this industry are disposable. We see that in the stores with young part-time associates and we see it in the warehouse. It’s wrong. If you think that all your warehouse employees are going to leave, they probably will. But if you treat them as if they are going to make a career with your organization, many of them will do just that.”
Moderator’s Comment: How big an issue is employee turnover in DC operations in retailing/wholesaling? Do you agree
that businesses need to develop a different approach to recruit and train employees? Are there any companies you’re aware of with an approach worth emulating? –
George Anderson – Moderator