Employee Retention

6 areas of focus for your warehouse worker retention strategy

January 18, 2023

Retain Workers for the Long Haul

RESOURCES 6 areas of focus for your warehouse worker retention strategy

Though we might finally be transitioning to a post-pandemic world, the market remains erratic, recession looms, and inflation is at or near 40-year highs.

Labor strains and volatility will continue, but by focusing on warehouse worker retention, supply chain companies can establish a firewall to ensure their organizations remain flexible and responsive regardless of what the future holds.

Looking for a comprehensive warehouse worker retention strategy that delivers results? WorkStep’s employee retention software provides a powerful platform for reducing turnover rates, improving engagement, and building a more loyal and motivated workforce.

Here are six of the most pressing retention strategies to consider in 2023 that we cover more in depth in our just published eBook.

1. Pay

Though WorkStep research consistently shows that pay isn’t the #1 factor employees cite for turnover, in our most recent analysis pay jumped from #7 to #4 in just one quarter — understandable considering the extraordinarily high rate of inflation. Your warehouse employees are working just as hard but the value of their pay continues to decrease, so it’s only natural that they would be concerned about compensation.

Meanwhile, the minimum wage for hourly workers increased across half of the U.S. in 2022 and will continue to rise in the new year, and already high salary increase budgets are predicted to remain elevated through 2023.

Salaries are going up and the market has moved closer to employee compensation expectations, so if you’re not paying competitively, you’re not even in the running for retaining employees because they’ll have taken jobs elsewhere to begin with.

2. Career growth

For the fifth consecutive quarter, career growth remained #1 in WorkStep’s Q3 workforce turnover study. Many frontline employees struggle to overcome growth barriers including a disconnect between what employees want and what employers think they want, and a lack of resources. Stay ahead of your competitors by prioritizing employee career growth and promoting from within.

Don’t overlook seasonal or temporary employees. After all, you’ve already trained them so why let them go elsewhere and waste the onboarding effort?

3. Human-centric leadership

Employees today look for and thrive under leadership that promotes self-expression, addresses both workplace and personal life needs, and offers flexible, tailored workflows.

Be genuine and transparent, lead with empathy, and empower warehouse supervisors and managers with the directive and authority to set reasonable job expectations for their team members.

Supervisors and managers should communicate roles and responsibilities clearly, provide ongoing training that evolves alongside employee skill sets, and communicate to employees how they’re contributing as both an individual and part of the larger team.

4. Stability and security

Between the pandemic, inflation, overall economic uncertainty, war in Europe, and political tension, people everywhere are exhausted emotionally and weary of change.

Change fatigue is real and organizations would do well to create an environment in which employees feel secure that there won’t be drastic shifts from one day to the next.

Of course, change is sometimes inevitable. But if you encourage open dialogue with employees and involve them in planning, they will feel more secure in the organizational changes that do occur.

5. DEI

The need for DEI initiatives within any organization remains as acute as ever but a top-down strategy is only the first step. Policy must be met with a sense of shared responsibility among all departments, so every employee feels like they are welcome at work, treated fairly, and offered the same opportunities as their peers.

Warehouse employees need trust in leadership to believe that DEI initiatives will result in a better work environment. Involve your frontline by considering their specific needs and engaging them in the strategy planning process.

Supervisors need to have clarity on the steps they should be taking to foster DEI, and if execution falls short they must understand that DEI is not a “nice-to-have” but a requirement that demands necessary adjustments be made to improve performance.

6. Feedback and the 90-day goal

The 90-day rule suggests that if you’re able to secure an employee for 90 days, they are likely to stay much longer. WorkStep research shows that the first 30 days are even more crucial.

Onboarding should be thorough, inclusive, and useful. Increase touchpoints between leadership and warehouse workers to build trust from day one, immediately set expectations, train adequately, make sure employees are in the best possible role for their skill set, and treat them fairly.

Engage with employees early on by checking in through quick, simple methods at ongoing intervals throughout their employment journey — and consider an open line of feedback so they can communicate concerns and issues at will.

Most importantly, always take action on the feedback you receive so employees know their words are registering and hold weight with management.

Retain warehouse workers

By incorporating these key components as part of your overall warehouse retention strategy, you should be well on your way to strengthening your retention efforts and reducing employee turnover.  Learn more in our 6 Key Warehouse Employee Retention Strategies eBook which delves deeper into the concepts introduced here.

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Kristina Finn

Kristina Finn, Content Marketing Manager | kristina@workstep.com