5 Skills for Warehouse Workers and Tips on how to build them
The warehouse sector is a crucial link in the worldwide supply chain and is essential to the success of companies in a variety of industries. The need for warehouses is rising as e-commerce expands, which is growing market size and income. That is why qualified warehouse workers are essential for successful businesses. Warehouse workers need to have specialized professional abilities connected to warehouse production, such as forklift operation, knowledge of warehouse jargon, and possession of practical abilities like organization and physical stamina. Find out how to recognize those skills during the work interview.
The number of warehouses worldwide reached almost 151,000 in 2020. North America was home to 25,000 of them. By 2025, there will likely be 180,000 warehouses operating worldwide as a result of the e-commerce boom (Statista). Modern warehouses are complex environments and managing them requires a synergy of accuracy, efficiency, and adeptness. To keep up with trends nowadays, warehouses are using a lot of new technologies.
Warehouse workers are important
The importance of warehouse workers is growing as these dynamic hubs develop into sophisticated logistics and distribution centers. In the US, the number of workers in the warehousing and storage sector has almost tripled over the last ten years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said there were 707,000 workers in 2013. That number increased to 1,933,000 in 2023 (BLS). To maintain smooth operations and maximize productivity, it is crucial that these people have the appropriate skill set.
What skills should your warehouse keepers have?
Warehouse skills are a combination of cognitive and physical abilities that enable people to carry out tasks related to warehouses with a high level of competence and professionalism. Some abilities are of a technical nature and intricately related to the specific requirements of the job, such as the ability to maneuver large machinery, because 85% of warehouses worldwide use forklifts (G2).
While some of these abilities can be acquired through practical job experience, it is necessary to be aware that some of them are gained naturally from birth. Only by a combination of them can you achieve the highest level of efficiency in your warehouse operations. Understanding the symbiotic relationship between learned abilities and innate skills emphasizes the comprehensive approach necessary to reach the highest performance levels in your warehouse workplace.
1. Effective communication
Communication is key to every business, logistics included. The majority of warehouse occupations entail communicating with clients, employers, and employees. To make jobs easier to complete and avoid costly mistakes, effective communication skills are essential. Make sure your workers can team up and communicate with each other. How can you achieve that?
Organize team building
We have prepared 5 team building ideas, differing in length of preparation and budget.
- Simple icebreaker games, such as Two Truths and a Lie or Human Bingo, are quick to set up and require no planning. They are great at establishing rapport between new coworkers.
- Bring board games or card games into the room for a laid-back team-building activity. Pictionary, Codenames, or Uno are fun games that don’t require any planning.
- Plan a warehouse Olympic game around the office or in the neighborhood. You’ll need to prepare places, disciplines, and equipment.
- An outdoor adventure day that includes things like canoeing, biking, and hiking can be a great activity. Even though it involves more preparation, it can be an effective team-building activity.
- Prepare a multi-day team retreat with team-building activities, workshops, and team-building exercises. This is the most complex option, involving logistics, accommodation, and significant preparation.
Choose the right communication tools
Communication is crucial for any warehouse operation. Effective communication can improve all processes. It is more than important to choose the right communication tools and platforms. Every tool has its pros and cons, so using a combination of them can be beneficial. Here are a few of the most commonly used communication tools in a warehouse:
- Radios and walkie talkies.
- Phones and tablets.
- Scanners and barcode readers.
- Speakers and PA systems.
Ensure that there is adequate training and support available for staff to learn and use the chosen tools effectively. Also, continuously gather feedback from warehouse staff to adapt and improve your communication tools based on their experiences and evolving needs.
Attend communication workshops
Identifying appropriate topics for communication workshops involves considering their unique needs, challenges, and areas where improvement is necessary. Here are some essential topics and suggestions for the workshops:
- Effective listening skills.
- Safety communication.
- Team communication and collaboration.
- Conflict resolution.
- Customer interaction skills.
2. Problem-solving skills
Working at a warehouse frequently includes solving immediate difficulties. Workers must demonstrate their capacity for problem-solving without the assistance of a manager. Although more complex difficulties may need the attention of trained workers, the worth of your warehouse workers will grow if they can handle occasionally occurring, less complex problems. For example, overstocking goods or lack of space. Help them to become more independent.
Tips for testing and gaining problem-solving skills
Case studies in the interview process
Using case studies in an interview is a great way to assess a candidate’s behavior in a real-world scenario, as these case studies often mirror the actual situations they may encounter in their position. Check the following two examples of case studies to evaluate the candidate’s ability to solve problems.
- You get a delivery of goods one day. However, there are some damaged items in the shipment. Furthermore, the contents of the cargo do not correspond to what is listed on the packing sheet. To guarantee smooth operations and maintain inventory accuracy, you must take immediate action. Can you describe any strategies or improvements you would implement to minimize such issues in the future?
- Imagine you work in a warehouse that stores a variety of products. One day you discover that you have a shipment coming in two days and that the stock of a popular product is getting low. But because of a problem with the supplier, the shipment is a week late. The demand from consumers for this product is still growing. How would you handle the situation to ensure that the inventory doesn’t run out, and customers remain satisfied?
Making brainstorming exercises can be quite challenging. Select a knowledgeable facilitator who can lead the meeting well, fostering a welcoming and concentrated conversation environment. In order to interest people, it is essential to provide reading materials and discuss how relevant the issue is.
Encourage idea-generating and creative thinking throughout the session using various strategies including mind mapping and group discussions. Include hands-on activities and visiting experts to improve communication skills as well as keep the interest of employees. Encourage teamwork among employees, offer chances for feedback and Q&A, and guarantee active engagement.
Since warehouse workers frequently work under tight deadlines, efficiency is of the utmost importance in a warehouse scenario. Staff members must keep up a pace that upholds both quality and safety standards. The value of those who can work quickly while putting up top-tier performance is greatly increased.
How can you help your employees become faster and more efficient?
- Training and onboarding: Providing organized training that places a strong emphasis on best practices and time management is crucial not only for new hires but also for existing workers.
- Efficient workflows: Continuously streamline warehouse processes and workflows to eliminate bottlenecks and reduce unnecessary steps. Encourage your employees to suggest improvements as part of the company culture, which supports ongoing improvement.
- Technology integration: To increase accuracy and efficiency in jobs like order picking and inventory control, implement technology like barcode scanners, inventory management software, and automated systems.
- Performance metrics: Create key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure employee output and establish performance objectives. Review these metrics and offer feedback based on them. It’s an effective way to motivate your employees.
4. Computer skills
Many warehouse workers put in years of effort without ever setting foot near a computer. Try to keep up with the trends and never stop innovating. There are many softwares that can save you time, a bunch of money, and help your employees work faster and more effectively. Teach your employees how to use them. You can test employees’ computer skills during interviews, giving them basic tasks to complete on a computer.
What you might not know: EasyCargo knows that the younger you start to study, the easier it will be. That is why we decided to offer schools, universities, and other educational logistics-related institutions one year of free access to the load planning app with all the features and updates. Find out how you can become part of the program and help your students gain a great skill advantage for their future career path over the competition.
Work accidents are a problem in every work environment. In the warehousing and storage industry, there were around 5.5 workplace accidents for every 100 full-time employees in 2021 (BLS). The most common types of accidents are falls and slips. Make sure your employees are well-rested and fully concentrated. Also giving your employees regular safety training may prevent some health injuries.
A multifaceted strategy is needed to prevent workplace accidents. Start by putting strong safety rules into place that handle typical dangers in the warehouse, such as correct equipment use, safe handling of heavy loads, and efficient hazard identification. Regular safety audits should be carried out to spot any risks and quickly address them. Encourage staff members to report safety issues and near-misses without worrying about retaliation because doing so fosters an environment of openness and constant improvement. Additionally, give all staff members thorough safety training that covers emergency response techniques.
By making safety a primary priority, you not only lower the likelihood of accidents but also foster an environment where workers feel appreciated and safe.
For warehouse keepers, skill acquisition is essential for their work. Try to help them improve as much as you can so you can get the maximum potential out of every one of them. Since you have knowledge about the need for warehouse skills and how to achieve them, you can start to upgrade other aspects of your logistics business.