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How To Attract and Retain Warehouse Talent

Three workers wearing safety vests organize dozens of boxes for shipment inside of a warehouse.

Warehouse and distribution centers are cautiously optimistic about their future. A recent Insider Intelligence report forecasts that U.S. companies will need to create approximately 330 million square feet of new warehouse space by 2025 to meet growing demand. However, the ongoing labor shortage —impacting warehousing and other industries — is a critical barrier to growth.

We spoke with Aerotek Strategic Account Executive Joe Parisi, who has over a decade of staffing experience in the warehousing industry. He notes that warehouses have a strong need to fill roles for "pick-and-pack" workers, inventory specialists, forklift operators, and maintenance and electrical systems specialists.

To attract and retain talent with these skills, he suggests employers review their pay rate, upskilling programs and hiring requirements.

Competitive pay and speedy hiring attract top talent

The first question companies need to answer, says Parisi, is “how do we attract a larger candidate pool to select the top talent?” If employers aren't getting the best candidates, they’ll have a hard time keeping up with their competitors.

Parisi believes to attract top talent companies first need to ensure they offer wages in the top 50% of rates for the candidates they're looking for. Parisi also advises that streamlining the onboarding process and getting new employees in the door as soon as possible is key. Candidates are more likely to accept a job offer when the company can have them start quickly.

"Those two factors — expanding the talent pool and speeding up the onboarding process — are what’s making companies win right now," says Parisi.

Upskilling opportunities make loyal employees

Once employees are on board, companies need to provide a path for advancement for their workforce. It’s expensive to hire and train workers, so losing and replacing them only drives up costs. Parisi advises companies to upskill existing employees by providing leadership and certification opportunities. Providing a path for employees to get certified to operate equipment like a forklift or an order pickup machine can help you identify the most valuable employees while incentivizing them to stay with the company to pursue a better career path.

Benefits like these make a difference for companies working to improve employee retention. "People will leave organizations if they don't feel safe or valued," explains Parisi.

Look for a mix of hands-on experience and valuable soft skills

It's important for employers to set a distinction between the skills needed for equipment operators and non-equipment operators. To meet the high safety standards set by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), equipment operators must have previous experience handling equipment. In this case, a certification doesn't replace hands-on experience. Candidates who have operated equipment at a distribution facility will be more valuable.

For roles that don’t require operating machinery, companies can prioritize candidates who demonstrate attention to detail, perform repetitive tasks consistently and are highly reliable. "Distribution centers typically have quotas to meet. Having a worker who packs 250 boxes miss a shift means 250 boxes won't get shipped."

With e-commerce continuing to boom, this is a great time to find top talent to staff your warehouse or distribution center. To find the right staff for your warehouse, reach out to Aerotek today.