People first: how to protect your strongest asset at work
As with any business, a warehouse operation’s biggest and strongest asset is its workforce. A happy, dedicated and motivated group of employees will ensure that projects are completed, deadlines are met and that standards remain high. When staff are happier at work, they tend to perform better, take fewer days off sick and remain at the company for longer, which reduced the costs and efforts related to recruiting and training newcomers.
There are many ways in which an employer can ensure that their warehouse employees are happy – and they are not all related to money and physical incentives. Read on to discover five ways to reward your staff and show appreciation of your company’s most important asset this year.
Many warehouse functions can be repetitive and physically tough. Shifts can be at unsociable hours or clash with commitments outside of work, such as school pick-ups, medical appointments and family occasions. Allowing staff some flexibility in how they manage their time will go a long way towards maintaining their loyalty and enthusiasm for their work. Listen carefully to any requests for time off or changes in working hours and try to accommodate short-notice leave requirements whenever possible. You could also look at job-share options, or job swaps to give employees a change in tasks and a new perspective on their own role and how it fits in the bigger picture.
People naturally feel nervous when they feel that they have little or no control over large parts of their lives. Work is no exception, so make sure that you keep your staff aware of significant changes in operations that will directly affect them. Give people a say in the future of the warehouse by consulting with them ahead of meeting with management to finalise any big decisions. Find out what people think of the company they work for – you can hold discussion meetings for this purpose, set up opinion boxes or create and distribute online surveys that can be answered anonymously if employees prefer.
As humans, we have a primal instinct to protect ourselves and our families from danger. In a warehouse setting, this can relate to job security but, more importantly, being physically safe at work. While the vast majority of responsible warehouse managers will have already put plenty of safety measures into place, it’s always worth asking what more can be done. Check existing safety measures regularly – are line markings and warning signage still visible and can they be repainted or refreshed to make them really stand out? Have you really done all you can to segregate pedestrians and moving vehicles in the warehouse? Are the barriers and protective systems you put in place still effective and in a state of good repair? Every employee and visitor to your site has the right to return home in the same condition in which they arrived.
While a fair salary and financial reward package is crucial to attract and retain good staff, investment in your workforce should go beyond the pay packet. Training can help people progress and consolidate what they have already learned ‘on the job’. Can you offer people the chance to study for external qualifications that will not only help them perform better in their current role, but will give their longer-term career and promotion prospects a boost? Are there any staff members showing management potential who could do with extra support to reach the next level? Does everyone have access to the right clothing, equipment and tools they need to do their job, or is it time to up the procurement budget?
We have already mentioned that a happy worker will be a more productive one, so don’t be afraid to show your appreciation routinely and authentically. Can you arrange a social gathering for the team at a local restaurant, or buy them tickets for a sports match or gig? Create a comfortable space for people to relax during their breaks and provide basic kitchen equipment such as a kettle and microwave. Book and pay for a Christmas party. If safe to do so, play music or switch on the radio in the warehouse. Encourage people to raise money for charity. Give public praise and recognition for staff who have gone above and beyond to fulfil a contract, for example or who have raised a safety concern. Then, there is the simplest mark of appreciation of them all – a genuine and heartfelt ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ after the job is done.