Friday, March 30, 2012

Overworked Warehouse Staff

I read a recent post on LinkedIn about a warehouse operation that is experiencing growth and was working their people 60 hours a week and is experiencing high absenteeism.

There are a lot of social and business management issues in this topic and it is tempting to run a little bit here.  Unfortunately there was not a lot of detail from the person who posted the article.  It would be nice to know if this was a temporary or seasonal demand situation or did the company tighten its belt in these economic conditions, started to grow again and just is too squeamish to hire anyone new.

The good news is this is a company that is working.  Bad news is they are headed for a brick wall. 

There are all sorts of management issues.  First, why are you using LinkedIn to get answers?  But now that you did, here come some observations. 

The first few responders to our poster’s article were how to get more water out of a stone.  Employees who are respected and treated well do not usually mind working harder for a limited amount of time for the company’s and everyone else’s sake.  When that time period extends too long, then they feel used and not appreciated.  We all heard about employees giving back when the economy started to tank a few years ago and company owners coming to employees seeking help.  A real spirit of cooperation existed then.

Then came some suggestion of how you can split some shifts or alter time schedules to basically get the same hours out of your employees without it looking like they are working the same.

There were ideas about adding temporary workers to fill the gaps.

Some nice ideas came next about publicly acknowledging the workers with small perks, like donuts, gift cards and employee of the month recognition.  Nice ideas as these are, they should already have existed.

Now I am not suggesting the company is greedy and should hire people, but that did cross my mind.  I do not know who they are or what they produce.  Many organizations are still shell shocked by the last few years and do not want to extend themselves in case the economy tanks again.  However, it is just that attitude that is stalling the recovery.  In any case this is not supposed to be an economics lesson.

One person took the time to ask a whole series of questions.  This is a good idea regardless of any circumstances.  Any business should be doing this on a regular basis and if they do not know what to ask themselves, then they should first look for a trusted advisor to help them set direction.

So why am I writing this article?  Simply, not one person stopped to ask or inquire or even prematurely suggest that the systems they are using may not match their current challenges.  First, is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system appropriate?  Is the company currently “big enough” or growing fast enough to implement a fully comprehensive system? 

Perhaps they do have a system.  Maybe that system was adequate years past.  Times change and so do the challenges all organizations face.  Here is where a consultation makes sense.  It should be high level to determine if a detailed analysis should be made. 

Are there efficiencies that can be gained by automating the warehouse operations?  Are they bar coding product and using wireless scanning?  Are they a candidate for an assessment from a warehouse engineer?  Would conveyors make sense?  Could a section be updated with robotics? 

What if we just managed the paperwork better?  What if we bulk picked and sorted?  What if we validated the shipments so that the overhead associated with incorrect shipments was minimized?

The questions can go on for quite a bit.  The idea that should be taken from this post is businesses should not just be looking for ways to minimize absenteeism from their overworked and underappreciated employees, but should also be looking for ways to streamline their operations with potentially a combination of Software and Hardware. 

Give the employees the tools they need to get the job done and then get out of the way.  Empower your people to make productive changes. 

Dolvin Consulting works with Manufacturers, Distributors and Specialty Retailers to help them streamline their operations with ERP solutions so they operate more efficiently reduce costs and become more productive.  Contact us today for aninitial consultation.

1 comment:

  1. It is a very nice Blog to understand the benefits of software in our business growth. Warehouse Software is a best software for management of inventories in a warehouse, and keeping the track of data of warehouse.