Warehouse Production Workers — The Unsung Heroes of the Jobs Economy

Warehouse workers working in a warehouse with hard hats and safety jackets

Like many of us, Matthew Naples is a busy man, serving as an account recruiting manager in Piscataway, New Jersey. But, the unsung heroes of the job economy that Matt’s team somehow keeps recruiting, might just be busier than us all.

Matt told us why. “One of our clients is a large auto parts distributor. At any given time, we have between 80 and 110 employees working out there, across four shifts, six days a week. These folks work harder than almost anyone I’ve ever met. When you factor in overtime, most are putting in six days a week, as much as 12 hours a day.”

On the job

We asked Matt what sorts of jobs these people were doing. “There are three main jobs performed in warehouse production environments like this. One group of employees receives inventory from the factory, scan the products into an inventory system and place it on the warehouse shelves. Then there are the pickers, who roam the aisles of the warehouse with a readout of the items that need to be shipped. Finally, there are the employees that process the shipments and send the auto parts — alternators, batteries, valve covers, you name it — to your local mechanic when you need them.”

That human factor

Driven by the innovation and competitive pressures from major online retailers redefining e-commerce, warehousing and related supply chain logistics is a major growth industry. Even with increasing levels of automation, humans are still in high demand. We asked Matt what he looks for in the people he hires.

“We usually look to three keys as the measure of a great warehouse worker. The first include the universal life and job skills of plainly showing up. Like in any job, attendance and getting their on-time matters. The second key is productivity. Each worker has production goals they manage. And finally, accuracy. The workers who perform well against these key measures become keepers for the company.”

Going direct

We wondered how many people choose to build a career working in the warehouse production world. “A lot! Once a worker proves themselves, there is an opportunity for them to  become an employee with the company. These workers are proud and happy of their achievement. They often build lifelong bonds with their colleagues and the company management.”

Matt continued. “Many of the people we place are raising families on the money they earn here. Many companies like to hire managers by promoting from within. I recently hired a gentleman who told me he had three kids — one going into college, a five-year-old and a high schooler in between. He needed a second job to be able to make it all work. I could tell he was the type of man up for the challenge, so we hired him and he’s excelled.”

Hero spotlight

It became clear that Matt was privileged to work with some pretty special people. We asked him if he could talk about one in particular for their hero story. “A gentleman applied for a warehouse logistics role about six months back. He had been out of work for several years after caring for his two children and was struggling to find work. He had previous experience operating a forklift, but admitted that he might be a little rusty. I went on the interview with him and he was tested on the forklift. He was nervous and a bit shaky, but he handled the machine well. His determination made it clear that this guy was special, and I convinced our client to take a chance. Two months later, he’s become one of the top guys on the shift and has found renewed personal and professional motivation since returning to the workforce.”

It’s so amazing to see this man provide for his family — and also for the company. He’s even referred one of the other top workers on his shift. It’s truly a win/win — everybody wins when you believe in someone who’s looking for their break.”

Takes all kinds

Companies in almost every category across the US are increasing their demand for warehouse and logistics workers. From e-commerce and light industry, to packaged goods, construction and automotive, warehouse workers are fueling the engine of jobs growth in many regions.

Given the diversity of industries we were curious to learn if Matt felt there was a certain “type” of person that gravitated towards and excelled at this tough work. Was there a model for these unsung heroes?

“Well no, I don’t think there’s a model, but they all do seem to share a certain sense of character, even as they come from so many different walks of life. As far as my experience goes, there’s no single ‘type’ that takes to this work and makes such meaningful livelihood out of it. The baseline requirement for this position is a high school diploma or certification and a proven commitment to hard work.”

Matt makes one final point. “I tell people what I do is special because the people are special. These people we work with in these warehouses are a source of constant inspiration to me and to my whole team.”

If you feel like you have that same sense of special Matt’s referring to, we’d love to work with you. Check out our current warehouse job opportunities and open your free Aerotek career account today.