All workers want to be happy and enjoy a work-life balance. Warehouse industry workers often find this a particular challenge. Flexible work options not only help achieve this desired level of balance, but they can also help you attract and retain quality employees, lower labor costs, increase productivity, and develop a safer work environment for your team.
How Turnover Affects Your Business
One of the biggest issues with warehouse retention is the volume of workers who may be in flux at any given time. Roughly one-third of all warehouses experience turnover rates between 10%-25%. Even worse, another third of warehouses experience turnover rates as high as 100%. This means a high percentage of your workers might be getting up to speed on any given day.
When you have new workers who are still learning the job, it impacts your productivity. You won’t be able to fulfill as many orders, and the ones you do might contain errors. This drop in productivity impacts other workers because they have to pick up the slack. It also affects the entire supply chain because it can delay shipments.
How Flexibility is Key to Retention in the Warehouse
It might seem logical that a bigger paycheck will satisfy most workers and make up for less than ideal work conditions. But recent surveys reveal that logistics workers want much more, namely better schedules.
According to Instawork, an on-demand labor marketplace, 58% of businesses surveyed have experienced an increase in fulfillment volume over the past year. But there is variability in that volume, so it doesn’t always make sense to hire full-time staff. The workers who perform the tasks want flexibility in addition to competitive pay. Businesses are looking for some type of flexibility as well.
Flexible Work Options You Can Use in Your Warehouse
Here is a list of flexible work options that are becoming popular in warehouses and light industrial workplaces.
This is a common work model in 24/7 warehouses where employees can choose morning, afternoon/evening, or overnight shifts.
This is a flexible option where workers can “split” their daily work across two shifts. For example, they might choose to work the beginning of the first shift and come back later to work the end of the second shift. It might be ideal for workers with childcare responsibilities.
This solution provides for a set of “core” working hours and flexible hours around them, as long as the total hours amount to a full shift. For example, the warehouse might require that workers be on the job from 9 am to 3 pm, but they adjust their start and end times to make up a full shift.
Compressed Work Week
Employees who work a compressed work week will work additional time each day to get an extra day off each week or each two-week pay period. The days off will need to vary so that all workers don’t have Friday or Monday off.
This is an ideal arrangement for workers who aren’t able to commit to working 40 hours per week or for positions that don’t require that many hours.
Job sharing is an arrangement where two or more part-time workers split up or “share” a single full-time position. Workers take on alternating shifts and cover all of the duties of a single position.
With telecommuting, employees work from home. Unless they are processing orders or handling other clerical tasks, this is not an ideal arrangement for a warehouse operation.
Benefits of Injecting Flexibility Into Your Warehouse Schedules
It’s simple enough to rely on what you’ve always done. But many warehouses are finding that traditional schedules no longer work as they once did. Here are some of the benefits of being more flexible with your scheduling.
Access to Better Quality Talent
There is a pool of qualified workers available. But they won’t want to work for you if you insist on an inflexible schedule. When you offer flexibility to your staff, you’ll have a larger pool of quality talent to choose from.
Higher Retention Rates
Options like flextime, job sharing, and compressed workweeks give employees the flexibility they want so they can spend more time with their families, take care of medical issues, or focus on furthering their education. When you give workers this desired freedom, they will reciprocate by being loyal employees.
Well-rested and happy workers are going to be less likely to be involved in workplace accidents. You should see your accident and injury rates drop.
When you build flexibility into your work schedules, employees won’t have to call out as much to take care of personal needs. Instead, they’ll show up to work on time and be more productive.
How to Implement Flexible Warehouse Options
The first step is to decide what flexible options fit your warehouse. Some models may work better for your business than others. For example, split shifts might be tough to manage, and telecommuting seems impractical. But flextime and compressed work weeks might be viable options.
When you investigate these options, involve your workers in the process. Ask them what would be meaningful for them as you consider changes. In addition to building flexibility into your scheduling, think about how you can be more flexible in the workplace to make tasks more efficient.
Finally, any solutions you implement should produce results. If they don’t, you need to try something else. Make sure you are tracking things like retention rates, attendance, and productivity so you can make the adjustments you need to get the best results.
Warehouse businesses are faced with the ongoing challenge of creating an environment that makes employees want to stick around. By focusing on strategies designed to attract and retain quality workers, your business will have a team of high-performing staff and enjoy better overall results.