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4 Strategies for Finding and Retaining Warehouse Labor

Posted by Paula Hise

Labor continues to rank as a top priority for warehouse managers working tirelessly to keep up with skyrocketing volumes and supply chain disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic. While certain industries such as restaurants and hotels have seen operations come to a halt, supply chains serving consumer packaged goods (CPG), grocery, and other eCommerce channels continue to face volume increases, making finding and keeping labor to handle it, vital. As heavy volumes will likely persist in a post-COVID world, labor market competition will remain fierce, calling for warehouse managers to deploy not only innovative, but human strategies to effectively support their operations.


These four strategies will help shippers find and retain the labor needed for their warehouse operations.


1. Pay appropriately

Warehouse operator wages have seen positive shifts in recent years, a welcome evolution from the relatively flat levels where they’ve resided for over a decade. Keeping up with wages and having the economic and demographic data to do so is crucial to attracting labor and enhancing the quality of life for those who chose this career path.

With operations dependent on adequate labor, Kenco views its robust compensation team as a leading asset responsible for holding on to its, and its customers, most valuable resource – people. The team allows Kenco to keep a pulse on the factors impacting labor across all major markets it serves – Who else is hiring? What are they paying? What are the average commutes? What are the unemployment rates in surrounding communities? Our team is constantly leveraging this data to ensure Kenco’s strategies are competitive and this info is consistently shared with customers, allowing them to effectively prepare for all types of market scenarios.


2. Recognize warehouse labor as essential

People want opportunities to do their best. The pandemic has created a newfound appreciation for workers in the logistics industry. For the first time, the supply chain’s unsung heroes have stepped into the spotlight and are being recognized for their dedication to keeping our economy running through first-of-its-kind disruptions.

People want opportunities to do their best and make a difference. By supply chain companies continuing to help the world recognize warehouse and other logistics professionals as essential parts of the economy, we can help attract future generations and spur industry growth and innovation.

3. Reimagine job training

The competitive nature of the current labor market is raising new questions with reimagined solutions regarding hiring and training. In this essential business where forklift operators and warehouse professionals are gravely needed, but not all job applicants are 100% qualified; is it time to reevaluate traditional training procedures as an industry?

The answer is likely “yes.” As an industry, we need to create training programs that give potential employees real opportunities to learn new skillsets – no one is born knowing how to drive a forklift or an 18-wheeler. By evaluating training plans that invest more time in educating candidates, warehousing and other supply chain professions can attract the vast numbers of job seekers from highly affected industries looking to pivot careers and get back to work.

4. Foster a culture of collaboration

Finding labor is difficult, but keeping it can be equally, if not more, challenging. Every associate, regardless of industry, wants to feel like they're contributing to their company’s goals and being heard when they have ideas. Creating an environment that fosters these feelings of cross-functional collaboration and idea-sharing is necessary to retain top talent and the great ideas they bring.

Kenco’s GM Bootcamp – a training curriculum created to make warehouse general managers the most effective leaders possible – focuses on empowering all associates to share their ideas on process improvement, value creation, and workplace ingenuity with managerial teams. Our philosophy is that the people doing the job will always have the best ideas, so we promote leading by actively listening to what our employees have to say.

While strategies for finding and keeping labor continue to dominate supply chain boardroom discussions, offering people a clear path to a quality life starts with executing the seemingly simple things – providing competitive pay, recognizing effort, offering real opportunity, and creating purpose-driven work. Learn more about Kenco’s dedicated warehousing services and how we can help you find the labor your need to exceed customer expectations.


Paula Hise

Written by Paula Hise

Group Vice President - Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals


We'd like to hear about your supply chain and discuss ways Kenco can help address your business needs.

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Kenco provides integrated logistics solutions that include distribution and fulfillment, comprehensive transportation management, material handling services, real estate management, and information technology—all engineered for Operational Excellence.