Finding and retaining the best workers

Feb 01, 2007 10:30 PM  By

In almost every case, extraordinary distribution centers are distinguished by the quality of their staff. The better your people, the less money you spend per transaction, even if the average hourly rate is higher. Plus the quality of your order fulfillment also increases, meaning improved customer satisfaction and fewer returns.

How do you find and retain the best? Here are a few ideas:

  • Offer above-average pay and benefits

    By offering a wage or benefit package that is a bit higher than the average, you can interview higher-quality applicants. If you can land a top performer, the extra few dollars you pay per hour may equate to a 50% or greater improvement in overall performance, and the result will be a net savings for your company.

  • Provide recognition and achievement

    Good associates want to do a good job, they want to know how they are doing, and they want to maximize their performance. So you need systems in place to evaluate and measure performance. A measurement and feedback mechanism not only enhances the performance of your top achievers, but it also establishes a culture of performance for other employees.

  • Continue to supervise, train, and communicate

    The best supervisors understand that it is their primary job to support their people. New associates should be paired up with someone who can help them learn the job and get questions answered quickly. Managers should not be afraid to get their hands dirty and help out during crunch periods. The focus on quality, performance, and achievement is communicated from the starting gate, and new associates are given the tools to succeed right from their first day.

  • Remind workers that they are not just employees in a distribution center

    Your associates are a critical link in providing your company’s goods to customers. By focusing on their job and doing it at the highest level of their ability, they are enabling your company to be more competitive and to maintain happy and satisfied customers. And this helps create an environment of stability and competitive benefits and wages.


Sam Flanders is president of Durham, NH-based Warehouse Management Consultants.