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7 Ways to Help Your Warehouse Employees Work at Peak Performance

Justin Wilbanks | 29 December 2020

For years, logistics consultants, material handling engineers, and supply chain execution providers have been slicing-and-dicing warehouse statistics in a quest to enhance employee performance for the ultimate purpose of bringing profitable dollars to the bottom line.

While having tangible statistics and historical records of warehouse operation is important, I suggest that these benchmarks alone will not drive peak employee or warehouse performance. Let's assume that you have a supply chain execution product, such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS), to monitor, collect, and report employee productivity. How do you use this information? Better yet, how do you get your warehouse employees to exceed the standard of expected performance?

You must find a way to effectively relate company goals with personal performance standards. Bringing clarity to how each person's efforts bring value to the company is very important. Therefore, building a team of high achievers has a lot to do with how you manage several human factors, such as employee morale, work conditions, and recognition.

Here are a few ideas to consider if you want to improve employee performance:

1. Hiring

Hire well-qualified employees. Today’s warehouse operations can be much more technical in nature than 10-15 years ago. The more automated your operations become, the more technically astute your IT staff and maintenance personnel will need to be. Identify what team skills you can help better support through a new hire. In general, look for reliable, competitive, and results-oriented people that will work well in your team atmosphere.

2. Align company goals with personal goals

Clearly express to your employees the company’s objectives or mission statement. Understanding the big picture is important. Encourage your employees to buy-in to the company’s purpose and how it relates to their specific job. If you can align individual and company goals, you will have an incredible combination.

3. Bottom line impact

Be sure your employees understand how their job impacts the bottom line. Make their role and responsibilities tangible. Place dollars and cents in relation to different degrees of performance. If it fits your model, consider pay incentives for extraordinary, as well as progress that helps to support achievement in the future. Many companies are doing this with great success as their employees feel a greater connection and sense of ownership in the progress that their company makes. A company win is a win for the individual, and vice versa!

4. Performance goals over time

If done right, this can be a fun experience! Present the expected “standards of performance." Next, explain how the standards were created and why they’re important. Competitive people love a challenge, so allow your employees to be creative in developing new methods to accomplish goals. A team meeting, for example, is an effective means for developing new methods. I also suggest assigning a team leader that is not a corporate manager. This sends a strong message that this is the employee’s idea versus management’s idea. Management should always set the expectation, but employees can develop the winning solution. Additionally, if a goal is worth creating then it’s worth having a timeline for completion.

5. Practice and track

When new methods or procedures are being developed – practice them. Be sure to get direct employee feedback and continually make improvements. Once the newly developed techniques are exceeding the goals, document them and report them frequently. Post large graphs or charts so that everyone can see the expectations and the accomplishments. This continual scoreboard let’s people know how their doing each and every day.

6. Recognition

This could possibly be the most powerful tool in your arsenal. People love recognition for a job well done. There have been thousands of books written on the importance of recognizing people for their accomplishments. So, why don’t we applaud our people more frequently? Why do we make this a “task” then push them to the back burner? Because it takes effort! The more thoughtful and genuine you can make recognition; the greater employee return you’ll receive. I suggest reading “The Carrot Principle” by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton for ideas.

7. Have fun

Work environments should be fun, competitive and rewarding. Mixing in different activities to build employee pride, establish teamwork and principles, can be well-received by team members and have a lasting impact that they’ll carry through to their work. With today’s social distancing environment, connection and communication is more important than ever.

Bastian Solutions consultants can not only help you gather the data but also sift through it to more clearly pin-point opportunities for optimization and efficiency. Beyond equipment and material handling, let’s look at your process as a whole and align your goals for a successful year ahead.

Author: Justin Willbanks

Justin Willbanks is a Consulting Engineer within the Consulting division of Bastian Solutions. His primary areas of focus are Labor Management System implementation, Operational Engineering & Distribution Center/Automation Design. He has more than a dozen years of experience in supply chain operations and consulting.

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