Maintaining your warehouse workforce during uncertain times

By Hisham Khaki

warehouse business
(© Ken Pilon – istockphoto)

Maintaining your typical warehouse workforce during uncertain times can be a frightening challenge. Once you get accustomed to operating in a particular manner, it can be difficult to change these habits. Yet such changes may be necessary to maintain your warehouse staff when you are faced with a global crisis such as the Coronavirus.

Communicating and Connecting with Employees

While communication is always important regardless of the circumstances, it is even more essential during times of crisis. Keeping open and continuous communication with your labor force can help ensure that management and employees are always up-to-date on what’s happening and any changes taking place in warehouse operations.

Consider expanding and using Intranet communication to send your employees immediate updates. This can help provide quick and direct communication without publicizing sensitive information. Additionally, use existing social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to provide additional employee-relevant information, which is suitable for the public.

It is also vital during these uncertain times to make it known that your employees are heard and understood so they don’t feel isolated by the circumstances. Making sure that employees are aware and connected to one another, as well as to management, can make it easier to move through this situation together.

To do so, send out surveys and check-in with employees regularly. Ensure they have a direct line of communication with human resources and offer help as needed. Furthermore, listen to workplace concerns and consider how your warehouse can solve those problems.

Trying New Ways to Work 

In uncertain times, finding new ways to perform tasks and duties is almost necessary. Adapting to the current situation may lead some warehouses to implement work practices that are more beneficial and effective once business returns to normal. This may be the time to innovate and embrace the use of technology when possible.

Find new methods to evolve with existing limitations. Assess shift scheduling possibilities and implement social distancing measures, as possible. Prioritize worker safety and find new approaches to meet warehouse objectives.

Being Realistic about the Situation

Lastly, in order to retain your warehouse workforce, it is important to be realistic about the situation and its foreseeable duration. Uncertain times may force your management team to refocus your company perspective so you can be proactive and not reactive in ensuring the quality of flex labor that you currently employ. This may be an opportunity to set goals that you are not accustomed to so you can appropriately adapt to the ever-changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

Each industry faces a different set of challenges recovering from the coronavirus. The best way to handle these issues is through communication between producers, intermediaries, sellers and workers.

Some changes are required to meet new work or industry guidelines. Others will depend on your workers and emerging trends. To handle an unpredictable situation, craft an initial plan with these different interests in mind. Then, update it as necessary and evolve with new information. Ultimately, addressing uncertainty and creating a plan is the first step to handling a difficult situation like COVID-19.

Hisham Khaki is the founder of HapiGig.

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