Hiring and staffing in the warehouse space has always been a challenge. But that challenge rose to a different level in 2021 in the face of unprecedented government stimulus, strained supply-chains, and record setting low unemployment. There’s even more constraint on the number of available workers with experience using specific warehouse management systems. Warehouse managers have had to work harder than ever to meet growing demands. They have turned to both alternative hiring practices as well as productivity enhancements to get the job done.
Unemployment in the salaried Transportation and Warehousing sector is down from 9.0% in November of 2020 to 6.1% in November 2021 (after hitting a peak of 15.7% at the beginning of the pandemic in May of 2020) according to the bureau of labor and statistics. As the supply chain continues to open up, there are projections for even more hiring which should drive these unemployment numbers even lower.
One strategy that warehouse managers have utilized to hit their hiring goals has been second chance hiring. Warehouses are turning to places like the SHRM Foundation who have the infrastructure to help job-seekers with criminal records re-enter the workforce. Interestingly, IWLA reports that there is no statistical difference in the performance between those with felonies and those without a criminal background, largely because of the importance of continued employment as a condition of parole. The study also notes that smaller warehouses have an even higher success rate when leveraging second chance hiring. There are also often tax credits available for utilizing second chance hiring programs. As more than 78 million Americans have a criminal record, leveraging second chance hiring with the right process in place seems to be a key part of many warehouse hiring strategies in a competitive market.
In addition to alternative hiring, warehouse managers are also helping solve hiring challenges by using technology to improve the team's productivity. One way they’ve done this is by utilizing software like RoadSync’s remote checkout capability. With remote checkout, warehouses can save time on every transaction, especially those paid with EFS or Comchecks. By eliminating the need to call in and authorize each payment, workers can quickly move on to the next load, enhancing their productivity. Warehouse payments seem to be a part of the workload that can be easily streamlined to help reduce the need for labor.
Another strategy managers use to solve their hiring challenges is pursuing new hiring channels. Many warehouses are creating or increasing their hiring referral bonuses, which can also be a morale boost for their existing teams. It gives them an opportunity to earn extra money. Another strategy includes leaning more on third-party staffing agencies. While these strategies can add to the cost of additional hires, they pale to the costs associated with having an understaffed warehouse.
While the strain on the labor market looks to continue for the foreseeable future, many warehouse managers are staying ahead of the pack by deploying some of the strategies discussed here.
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