How to Manage a Warehouse Labor Shortage

A warehouse or distribution center has many moving parts. Each one requires workers who are skilled in particular areas to keep the facility operating at peak performance. From pickers and packers to drivers and assembly workers, the labor force in a warehouse is diverse. When there’s a shortage of personnel, the impact is felt throughout the company—and even by its customers.

Warehouses sometimes experience high employee turnover because there are so many competitors vying for top talent that employees often leave one warehouse to work at another. Therefore, knowing how to manage a warehouse labor shortage is important for any warehouse manager. Even more important is knowing how to keep employees from leaving in the first place.

How to Handle a Warehouse Labor Shortage

Because warehouse labor shortages are inevitable, it is best to have certain processes in place to minimize the impact. This is most easily accomplished by using automation and technology.

Implementing robotics and automation technology ensures a warehouse can still operate on some level, even with a reduced physical workforce. This doesn’t mean you should replace all of your employees with robots, but it will help protect your warehouse against unexpected shortages in manpower.

When trying to determine which processes can benefit from automation, consider current information on the costs to process an order, the number of employees needed per shift, picking and packing process details, the number of orders open and your error rate.

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