Seasonal warehouse workers give distribution centers the extra capacity that they need to take on the busy holiday season — and it’s only getting busier.
Last year, online sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 reached a total of $91.7 billion, more than 10 percent higher than the previous year. Search marketing firm NetElixer projects an increase of another 10 percent for this year’s online holiday sales. It’s safe to assume that warehouses and distribution centers are flooding their floors with temporary employees as we speak.
So how can employers ramp up seasonal workers in time to keep productivity high, but before the season ends for another few months of more relaxed throughput? There are three categories to consider when empowering temporary staff to succeed: Training, equipment, and ergonomics.
Seasonal workers, by definition, will only be with you for a short time. Too many warehouse managers are loath to invest the time and resources in a robust training program for employees without a long-term commitment.
However, what if you viewed your temporary workers as a potential hiring pool for when you need to ramp up production on a more permanent basis? That would make the training worth your while. Moreover, remember that keeping all staff comfortable is a crucial part of running an efficient operation — and protecting your brand.
So invest heavily in training. Start hiring a few weeks early. Consider pairing all seasonal workers with a friendly, experienced member of your staff who can answer questions on the fly. Proper training has ramifications that extend far beyond this year’s holiday season.
Like anyone, your temporary staff need the right tools for the job. As you ramp up on hiring, you might need to invest in extra equipment to make sure every employee can be as effective as possible.
Plus, contemporary, easy-to-learn technology cuts down on training time. Choose devices that are familiar and intuitive, such as tablet computers with integrated scanners. As for material handling equipment, this leads us to our next point.
Without adequate material handling equipment, employees can’t complete their tasks. But it’s not enough for this equipment to be adequate; it must also be safe.
No one wants a workplace injury, particularly not in the middle of the busiest season of the year. Keep your staff healthy and productive with ergonomic material handling equipment. Use positioning equipment like Tilt Tables and Pallet Carousels to prevent the strain associated with reaching, bending, and stretching. Be sure to stock plenty of Order Picking Carts or other custom material handling carts that match the items on your shelves.
You want your staff to go home healthy and happy after every shift. Without ergonomic material handling equipment, that’s hard to pull off.
This Winter’s Seasonal Worker May Be Next Summer’s Shift Leader
Ultimately, temporary jobs provide benefits to both the workers in those positions and the companies that hire them. Seasonal jobs often lead to permanent work; after all, there’s no better hiring pool than one you’ve already trained, gotten to know, and fully integrated into your staff. Even in the midst of the holiday rush, it pays to take the long view. Seasonal warehouse workers have a way of sticking around to become vital members of the team.
Dymond, Diana. “2017 Holiday Forecasts Revealed (With Insights).” NetElixer. NetElixer, 22 Aug. 2017.
Entis, Laura. “With $91 Billion in Online Sales, Retailers Had a Record-Setting Holiday.” Fortune. Time Inc., 5 Jan. 2017. Web. 9 Oct. 2017.
Lamphier, Eric. “Plan, Prepare and Prosper: How to Master the Busy Holiday Season.” MHLNews. Penton, 29 Sept. 2017. Web. 9 Oct. 2017.