Managing Warehouse Worker Retention

Finding quality warehouse workers is hard enough on its own, but keeping the ones you have can sometimes be just as difficult. Given that the warehouse industry as a whole has a turnover rate of around 36 percent, maximizing employee retention as much as possible is especially crucial for warehouse managers.

To effectively manage warehouse worker retention, it is important to understand what often causes turnover in warehouses and what encourages workers to stick with their current job. With this information in mind, you could be much better prepared to handle any challenges the volatile warehouse job market throws your way.

The Biggest Retention Challenges Warehouses Face

Warehouses suffer from many of the same employee retention problems as other types of businesses. For example, the more warehouses there are in a particular area, the more likely it is local workers will pursue other opportunities nearby.

The crucial period during which turnover is highest is around one to three years after someone is hired, after the initial excitement from joining a new team has worn off but before any long-term affection has developed for a company or position. This effect is especially pronounced among millennials compared to previous generations. As Gen X continues to age out of warehouse work, millennials will gradually make up a larger percentage of the overall labor pool.

Unfortunately, traditional shift structures for warehouse work are often not appealing to new hires, as any manager who has tried to fill a night shift roster knows all too well. Working hours that are both inconvenient—and, depending on the season, inconsistent—often means more turnover and more expenses for hiring and training new workers.

Incentivizing Employees with More Than Money

Offering employees more money to stay on can be a quick fix to high turnover, but that isn’t a feasible option for a lot of warehouses. Fortunately, many other benefits and cultural changes can foster a positive working relationship that makes dependable workers more willing to stick around.

Access to benefits like quality health insurance can make all the difference for a lot of workers, especially those with families. Likewise, bonuses, prizes, and even company-wide celebrations for meeting production goals can significantly boost morale at a fraction of the cost of onboarding new employees.

Perhaps the most important thing warehouse managers can do to reduce turnover is work to build a communicative and supportive workplace culture. Allowing room for constructive feedback from management, input on workplace procedures from employees, and opportunities for additional training creates an atmosphere of trust between warehouse workers and administrators. This can greatly decrease the number of employees who look for these experiences elsewhere.

Adjust Your System to the Assets You Have

Ultimately, your workers are your greatest asset as a warehouse manager, so you should do all you can to use their skillsets effectively and work with their needs. Instead of locking everyone into the same old 12-hour/four-day shifts, consider differentiating shifts and allowing different employees to work on different schedules, or switching to an annualized system that allows both workers and managers more flexibility during peaks and valleys in demand.

In the meantime, platforms like HapiGig can help you adjust to short-term flex labor needs. Bringing on flex labor for individual gigs can help ensure you don’t overwork your full-time employees during a call-out or high-demand period, leaving them happier, healthier, and more willing to stay with your company for the long run.