Traditionally, retail and e-commerce sellers must accommodate increased order volumes toward the end of each calendar year—especially between Black Friday and the end of December, when American consumers purchase most of their holiday gifts. This event is something that most retailers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers have learned to handle in their fulfillment centers after years of experience, often by hiring temporary warehouse workers to help out with the higher volumes.
However, peak season has now become more difficult to manage thanks to the pandemic and the disruptions that followed. According to research from Supply Chain Dive, 59% of supply chain professionals expect the 2022 peak season to be even more challenging than in 2021. In addition, this report cites labor shortages, turnover, and retention as major concerns for almost half of the survey respondents.
Onboarding Warehouse Temp Labor in a Labor Shortage
Staffing up in the middle of a labor shortage isn’t easy, which makes it essential to do it right and minimize turnover. Most retailers and 3PLs work with temp agencies that provide warehouse labor or, more generally, industrial or manual labor. In years past, this has worked fine. In 2022, however, warehouses will likely find that their usual staffing agencies can’t deliver the same number of candidates they once did.
There is no reason to panic, but warehouse operators will need to take additional steps this year to ensure temporary warehouse associates stay on as long as needed. Here are some tips for creating a positive onboarding experience that equips your temp labor to succeed:
- Streamline documentation. There’s no need to have temp workers spend half the first day filling out forms. Instead, send tax documents, emergency contact forms, or any other relevant paperwork via email in advance and ask them to bring it with them on their first day. Better yet, create a digital resource hub that new temp employees can access from home with all relevant documents, safety policies, and manuals they may need.
- Make videos. Creating video content can help your new temp employees visualize the work they need to do. Create short videos for each of the major steps in the fulfillment process so that your new temp workers can see how things are supposed to get done.
- Offer incentives. Try incentivizing temp workers to complete training steps. Offering snacks, free meals, gift cards, or other incentives costs very little for the warehouse but can go a long way toward improving the warehouse associate’s experience in the first few days on the job.
- Provide mentors. Choose some of your trusted full-time warehouse staff as mentors for temporary laborers who may have many questions as they get started. When temp laborers have clear direction about what to do when they don’t know what to do, they won’t feel as stressed if they come across a situation they don’t know how to handle yet.
Retaining Warehouse Temp Labor Throughout Peak Season
Once you’ve successfully onboarded your temp labor for peak season, you must ensure your laborers stay with you through the holidays. Given the current state of the warehousing labor market, your temp worker can easily take a few weeks of experience and get a job in another warehouse if they aren’t happy at yours. These tips will help you improve your warehouse environment and hang on to your temp labor:
- Offer more incentives. The warehouse down the street might pay 10 cents more hourly, but do they have free snacks and lunches? Company-sponsored happy hours? Pool tables for use during breaks? Hourly wage is a primary motivator for any employee, but creating a good culture that recognizes and rewards hard work might make your temp worker stick in place when another offer comes along.
- Communicate. Don’t just tell your temp workers what they’ve done wrong. Instead, also tell them what they’re doing right. Thank them for doing a good job. Offer constructive advice if they need improvement. They may only be around for a few months, but positive reinforcement and good communication might bring them back again next year.
- Run a safe warehouse. If people are constantly getting hurt in your warehouse, you’re likely to scare off your temp workers. Ensure that all permanent and temp workers are thoroughly trained on how to safely do the job.
- Create full-time opportunities. Many temp warehouse workers are only doing temp work because they haven’t found a full-time job yet. Make it clear that top performers have opportunities for temp-to-hire after peak season ends.
About Phoenix Logistics
Strategic Real Estate. Applied Technology. Tailored Service. Creativity. Flexibility. These fundamentals reflect everything we do at Phoenix Logistics. We provide specialized support in locating and attaining the correct logistics solutions for every client we serve. Most logistic competitors work to win 3PL contracts, and then attempt to secure the real estate to support it. As an affiliate of giant industrial real estate firm Phoenix Investors, we can quickly secure real estate solutions across its portfolio or leverage its market and financial strength to quickly source and acquire real estate to meet our client’s need.
Mr. Frank P. Crivello began his real estate career in 1982, focusing his investments in multifamily, office, industrial, and shopping center developments across the United States. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Crivello assisted Phoenix Investors in its execution of its then business model of acquiring net lease commercial real estate across the United States. Since 2009, Mr. Crivello has assisted Phoenix Investors in the shift of its core focus to the acquisition of industrial real estate throughout the country.
Given his extensive experience in all aspects of commercial real estate, Mr. Crivello provides strategic and operational input to Phoenix Investors and its affiliated companies.
Mr. Crivello received a B.A., Magna Cum Laude, from Brown University and the London School of Economics, while completing a double major in Economics and Political Science; he is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Outside of his business interests, Mr. Crivello invests his time, energy, and financial support across a wide net of charitable projects and organizations.