Hire top warehouse talent, avoid e-fulfillment bloopers, ward off pesky hackers
Heads Count The last thing you want to read is yet another study that talks about the labor crunch. But check out a new report from the Warehousing Education and Research Council that offers a refreshingly different take on the subject, providing an inside look at how warehouse operations tackle the situation. “Hiring Practices for Entry-Level Personnel,” published in December 2000, offers information on turnover rates, recruiting methods, skills that employers find most valuable, and perhaps most important, the adverse consequences (increased workload and operating expenses, poor productivity, and weak morale, among others) of not filling vacant positions.
In July 2000, WERC mailed 820 questionnaires to a random sample of manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, third-party logistics providers, retailers, and government/utility companies of various sizes in industries such as consumer goods, food, paper and printing, automotive, office products, computers, and electronics. The survey drew 180 responses.
Respondents are not particularly satisfied with their efforts to attract high-quality candidates; on a five-point scale, 38.5% indicate a “3,” and 22.9% say they are “very dissatisfied” with entry-level warehouse workers hired in the last 12 months. Dependability is by far the most desired skill – and also the one most frequently lacking. (As the researchers put it, rather redundantly, “It is extremely difficult to operate a warehouse efficiently if half the personnel do not come to work!”) Of 164 respondents, 129, or 78.7%, rank dependability as one of the top three skills they seek, and almost 30% rate it as the most important skill. About a third of respondents, 32.9%, mention dependability as the quality most usually absent among applicants for entry-level warehouse jobs.
The Internet has made considerable inroads into business processes, but traditional ways of finding employees are still your best bet. Of the 78.1% of respondents who place newspaper ads, 33.9% say they are the most fruitful recruiting method; of the 59.6% who use employment agencies, 30.5% consider them most effective. Other old standbys are employee recommendations (68.5%) and word of mouth (49.4%).
Cheapskate employers, listen up: According to the survey, the number one factor for hooking qualified candidates is competitive pay. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents – and an overwhelming 90.5% in the automotive industry – say salary is the star attraction, followed by benefits (56.4%) and company reputation (54.2%). In the benefits area, look to the unorthodox to woo talent. Health, dental, and life insurance packages are widespread, but perks like profit sharing, tuition reimbursement, optical insurance, and pension plans are less common in the warehousing business and may tip the scales in your favor. With demand for entry-level hires expected to rise (17.1% of respondents predict a “drastic” increase) in the next 12 months, gaining the slightest edge can make a difference.
For more information, contact WERC at 1100 Jorie Boulevard, Suite 170, Oak Brook, IL 60523-4413; phone: (630) 990-0001; fax: (630) 990-0256; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: www.werc.org.