how to motivate warehouse employees

How to motivate warehouse employees

The demand for warehouse employees is rising. As stated by the Financial Times “employers are scrambling to recruit staff”. Now more than ever there is a need to focus on how to motivate warehouse employees. Improving employee engagement will both retain existing employees and appeal to future recruits. But this is an enormous challenge in this sector. Someone once told me; “The only thing that motivates warehouse employees is their salary and the people they work with.” There is certainly some truth in this. As you can see below from the top 10 reasons people leave their employment, compensation features highly while many of the others fit into the category of ‘cultural fit’.

Top 10 reasons employees leave their employment

  1. Feeling unappreciated
  2. A lack of proper compensation
  3. Insufficient time off
  4. Change in management
  5. Outdated machinery and equipment
  6. Unrealistic goals
  7. Lack of management support
  8. A lack of challenge
  9. Lack of joyful environment
  10. Lack of career progression

While the distribution sector is so buoyant there is a lot of competition with the potential to poach your employees. There is also the added challenge of many of the baby boomers now retiring resulting in the need to appeal to a very different generation.

Combine this with the fact that the average cost for losing and replacing an employee is £12,000 (Employee Replacement Cost), and it is clear that you need to do everything you can to retain and motivate warehouse employees.

5 steps to retain and motivate warehouse employees

By improving motivation and better engaging employees, you not only increase retention rates but you are also highly likely to see improvements in productivity. There are few sectors where staff satisfaction has such a direct effect on productivity. Here are the 5 steps we recommend every distribution organisation adopts in order to maximise staff retention and employee engagement.

1) Understand your employees

An obvious point but one that is often overlooked. You can’t improve their working lives unless you truly know what makes them tick. What are their motivations for coming to work? What do they enjoy about their working day? What don’t they enjoy? What barriers do they consider to be hampering their performance? What do they enjoy doing when they leave work?

If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions it is important to understand them. Without these answers you cannot set a benchmark, you cannot relate effectively to your employees and you cannot improve warehouse staff retention rates.

To find out the answers you could carry out employee surveys or ask in 1:1s. Whatever your method, ensure you get as many people involved as possible and explain the reasons for the survey to get buy-in.

2) Review your remuneration package

In such a competitive market, it is always a valuable exercise to review what you offer your employees. From salary, through to productivity incentives and holiday allowances. When warehouse staff can pick and choose their employer, these factors will make a huge difference in their choices.

You may want to carry out research on your closest competitors to understand where your remuneration package sits in comparison. The answers to the questions in step 1 will also guide you on what your employees expect and need.

If you don’t already, you could introduce some productivity incentives in which employees receive a reward when they reach certain productivity milestones. If you do this, the most important factors to consider are; make the targets challenging but achievable and consider your reward carefully. You may even want a few different rewards to cater for different employees. Another option to consider is ‘employee of the month’ which recognises and rewards employees who have achieved their productivity targets or who have demonstrated your company values.

You may also benefit from considering more flexible working hours in your employee engagement strategy. This is something the younger generation are likely to look for and is becoming more expected since the pandemic.

3) Provide a pleasant working environment

A very basic but absolutely vital employee need. An unpleasant vs a pleasant work environment will influence an employee’s decision on whether they stay or leave your company. Here are some factors you should consider:

  • Cleanliness – dirty areas are depressing but also potentially dangerous. Investing in a cleaning regime will always boost the mood of your employees.
  • Machinery and tools – in a job where productivity is measured constantly, anything that hampers an employee’s productivity will cause significant frustration. Where possible, ensure you have the right machinery and tools in place to minimise these frustrations.
  • Space to relax – working in a warehouse is hard work and often noisy. By providing a quiet, comfortable space to retreat to will help your employees recharge their batteries and have the downtime that is so vital in a busy work environment.
  • Use music – as well as improving morale, a study found that playing music improves the productivity of 73% of warehouse workers. This is therefore well worth considering if you don’t already have a music policy.

4) Ensure effective managerial support

Positive working relationships with managers make a huge difference to employee engagement. With the right processes and feedback loops in place a manager’s role in the distribution sector is absolutely critical to staff retention. They can show appreciation for the work the employee has undertaken. They will help the employee with any career progression aspirations. They will identify any training requirements or opportunities. And they will cascade information in both directions.

The role of a manager cannot be overlooked in this sector. They need to be granted the time and processes necessary to carry out effective 1:1s, provide quality support and put focus on employee engagement. This in turn will foster loyalty, all of which contributes to staff retention.

5) Consider your company culture

The final factor that wraps all of the above steps together is your company culture. Your culture should demonstrate the attitudes and behaviours you expect your employees to adhere to. In essence, when you have nailed your company culture, everyone will be working towards the same goals with mutual respect for one another. It is this shared ethos that will create a community and that will create loyalty amongst your staff.

Central to a solid company culture is communication. Your employees need to know what is expected of them and where they fit in the company goals. Likewise, your employees need to feel listened to and have the avenues to provide ideas and feedback. You can achieve this two-way communication loop far easier in today’s world. Technology such as employee communication software provides all of this in a single platform helping you master employee engagement and ensure your employees feel valued and part of the company’s journey.

daniel wright

Daniel Wright

Marketing Assistant

Driven to learn and better myself physically, mentally and professionally.

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