How Warehouses Can Improve Workforce Stability During Peak-Hiring Season

A man and woman wearing face masks, safety vests and hard hats look over the interior of a warehouse.

Warehouse and distribution companies are in a tough spot. The demand for storing and shipping products is booming, but the ongoing labor shortage and rising wages are making it difficult to staff enough workers to meet rising demand. This difficulty is expected to affect companies throughout peak warehouse hiring season — which lasts from July to December.

Facing fierce competition for labor, employers are launching aggressive hiring campaigns and casting a larger net that is attracting workers with various levels of warehouse experience. The unintended consequence of this approach, however, is high turnover and attrition. We spoke with Senior Director of Strategic Sales B.J. Lennon — who has over 25 years of experience in high-volume staffing — about what warehouse companies can do to create a stable workforce with talent of all experience levels.

Stability starts with screening

Warehouse employers have been loosening hiring requirements for months. Lennon says that businesses are more willing than ever to adjust their screening process to adapt to a more competitive labor market.

“I’ve seen a lot more flexibility in the last six months than at any time in my career,” says Lennon. “Requirements have loosened up in terms of what clients are screening for in terms of drug and background checks.”

Being flexible helps employers attract the number of workers they’ll need during peak-hiring season. However, Lennon warns against an “I just need people” mindset which can lead to attrition and other negative impacts.

Screening can also be adjusted to find experienced talent that is better suited to grow with the company long term. It just takes some time researching your current staff.

“We work with clients to build a success profile for candidates. Clients tell us about their best workers and the traits they possess. We also want to know what hasn’t worked out in the past”

Onboarding can minimize workforce attrition

An engaging onboarding process helps to ensure both parties are entering a mutually beneficial relationship. Make the process more interactive by showing talent around the facility and introducing them to current staff that can provide a glimpse into the company’s culture. Experienced candidates can then make a more informed decision before accepting the offer and will be less likely to abandon the role early.

The onboarding process is a good time to highlight workers who have valuable traits other than warehouse experience. Businesses should consistently seek candidates who possess valuable soft skills no matter their experience level. Once they are onboard, employers need to put them in roles that maximize those soft skills.

“If you’re hiring someone who has worked at a mobile phone store and has good communication skills, I’m not sure if putting them on a CNC operation line is going to work. But their skills may align better elsewhere in the facility,” says Lennon.

Finding the right roles for talent with little warehouse experience will prevent them from feeling overwhelmed or misplaced. The more comfortable a worker feels, the more likely they’ll want to stick around.

Leverage retention and referral programs for long-term stability

In a competitive labor market, employers should look beyond short-term remedies for their staffing challenges. Warehouse workers know they have options and will explore other opportunities they feel align better with their goals. Implementing retention and referral strategies will help you secure workers for the long-term.

“Once you have these employees, what are you doing to keep them?” questions Lennon. ”Frankly, you should be improving their resume — either through training, upskilling or education.”

If increasing additional training can’t be done immediately — focus on what makes your company attractive to your current employees and how they’ve progressed.

“I always ask clients ‘When someone’s been there two to three years what does it look like, how did they get there?’ If we can highlight those experiences to candidates and show them where current employees started and where they are now, it gets them to consider the long-term opportunities,” says Lennon.

The companies that invest in an employee’s future have an easier time retaining workers. They’ve also set the foundation for an effective referral program that turns workers into ambassadors for a company’s job openings.

“Internal referral programs are very effective, especially in high-volume recruiting. These candidates likely have a positive view of your company based on your worker’s experience,” says Lennon.

Creating an environment where experienced talent can amplify your hiring needs allows you to tap into a very receptive audience — their friends and family. They may not have their experience, but they enter the relationship with a positive outlook and sense of comfort.

High-volume hiring for warehouse positions is getting more complicated. It goes beyond offering a competitive wage and hiring based solely on work experience. Finding the right mix of skilled and novice employees and providing opportunities to keep them engaged stabilizes your workforce in the short and long term.

We’d love to learn about your high-volume hiring challenges. CONTACT US to learn more about our staffing services.