Warehouse work is often grueling, physically demanding and repetitive, and it is also one of America’s most dangerous jobs according to OSHA. Accidents happen when workers lack engagement, and feeling unappreciated was cited as the primary cause of low production when the workforce management company Kronos polled manufacturers about employee productivity.
On the other hand, nurturing enthusiasm, taking workplace safety issues seriously and letting workers know how much their contributions are valued can help you to avoid these problems, reduce employee turnover and build a team that is just as committed to your success as you are.
Enthusiasm Is Contagious
You may think that your product range and unique marketing approach are your most valuable business assets, but the ideas inside your workers’ heads could actually be far more valuable in the long run. Employees are more likely to share their ideas when they feel appreciated and work in an environment where initiative is recognized and rewarded, and creating such an environment is a product of effort more than investment.
Employers in all industries say that attracting and keeping qualified workers is their biggest challenge, but you can avoid burnout, reduce worker turnover and foster enthusiasm and engagement by being proactive and reminding your people just how much you care about them.
The Keys to a Happy Warehouse Floor
Recognize workers who share ideas or go above and beyond the call of duty. Bonuses are the traditional way to thank exceptional workers, but a pat on the back in front of the whole team can be just as effective.
Small gestures can pay big dividends
Bring coffee and bagels at the beginning of exceptionally busy days and provide lunch when workers are being asked to make sacrifices and put in extra effort. You should also be ready to take action when your workers face a setback to show that their efforts and understanding are appreciated.
Examples of going the extra mile for your people include offering them cold drinks and finding a cool place for them to rest when air conditioning systems fail, or offering to arrange transportation when workers will miss their trains or buses home because you are asking them to stay late.
Listen and say thank you
Workers who are told how much their efforts benefit the company feel appreciated and are less likely to pursue other opportunities, and a handshake and sincere thank you can do as much to nurture enthusiasm and engagement as a pay raise or a promotion. Another great way to build a loyal and committed team is to listen to their concerns with empathy and understanding even if little or nothing can be done. Scheduling is the source of a great deal of workplace conflict, but you can turn the situation around by trying your best to accommodate your workers and explaining honestly why certain concessions are just not possible.
Keep things interesting
The monotony of warehouse work can sap the will of even the most enthusiastic workers, but workplace doldrums can be avoided by regularly altering schedules and reassigning workers so that no one task becomes oppressively dull. A valuable side benefit of this proactive approach is a multi-skilled workforce that can be assigned as needed to fill the gaps when employees are absent due to sickness or injury.
Be careful when encouraging competitiveness and camaraderie
Splitting a workforce into teams and then rewarding the team that performs best can enliven warehouses and motivate employees, but a win at all costs mantra should be avoided as losing teams may become resentful and this resentment can linger. To avoid this pitfall, you should ensure that all contests are run in a light-hearted way and the rewards or prizes on offer should be desirable but not too valuable.
Put safety first at all times
Avoiding workplace accidents builds loyal teams and protects your bottom line, and increasing employee engagement is one of the best ways to prevent injuries. Studies have found engaged workers are involved in 48 percent fewer accidents and are more likely to step forward and say something when they notice unsafe conditions. These savings can really add up as each workplace injury costs employers an average of $38,000 in lost production and health care and workers’ compensation costs.