Labor doesn’t just dominate warehouse fulfillment costs. It’s also been dominating the thoughts of supervisors, managers and top executives throughout our industry as it becomes increasingly difficult to attract and retain workers at every level of the supply chain.
Although not the only industry struggling to find workers, what with the U.S. unemployment rate resting at 4.1% at the end of 2017(the lowest jobless rate since February 2001), with the exponential surge in e-commerce, supply chain labor has been an oft-reported topic in both trade and mainstream media. Indeed, nearly every month last year saw a different news report or survey on the topic. Among them:
- The Brookings Institute reported that 1.2 million workers are already employed in general warehousing, storage and e-commerce distribution centers across the country, representing a 48% surge in employment from 2010 to 2016, whereas employment across all private industries rose just 12% in the same timeframe.
- The Wall Street Journal noted that even as retailers and third-party logistics (3PLs) providers open new facilities faster than ever to keep up with e-commerce customer demands, they’re struggling to find workers to fill them.
- Respondents to ASQ’s Annual Manufacturing Survey say their top challenge for 2018 will be finding skilled workers, surpassing the economy for the first time since 2013.
- Material Handling & Logistics magazine reported that companies making site selection plans for locating new warehouses and manufacturing plants now prioritize workforce availability over location, infrastructure and business-friendly climate.
Finding the people you need, and keeping them both happy and productive, has perpetually been one of the most popular topics at the Warehouse Education and Research Council’s (WERC) Annual Conference for Logistics Professionals. This year’s 41st such event—held May 6 to 9, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina—is no exception. Among the 80 sessions, several thought leader presentations, TED-style talks and Peer-2-Peer discussions will explore best practice approaches to most effectively managing and supporting the people who keep your company’s promises to its customers.
In thought leader sessions and TED-style talks, experts will share with WERC Conference attendees:
- Culture-based strategies for hiring, training and engaging the available workforce in your market to attract and retain top talent.
- Ways to win the hearts and minds of your employees by modeling positive attitudes, empowering beliefs and committing to patience.
- How to create an organizational culture that values continuous improvement through leadership development.
- Techniques and approaches to provide warehouse associates with real-time feedback about performance.
- Using analytics for visibility into labor behavior, to drive higher engagement and as a means to hire and retain the best employees.
- How to foster better relationships between warehouse operators and transportation drivers and carriers for a smoother in-bound and out-bound process.
- Setting expectations for personnel at every level—from top management to hourly workforce—on both sides when embarking on a new outsourcing partnership to ensure a successful transition.
- How to integrate employees with disabilities, a virtually untapped talent pool, into your operations.
- Approaches to significantly reduce workplace injuries by gaining employee awareness and buy-in.
- The latest research into the workplace preferences of hourly logistics employees as a resource to create effective attraction, training and retention strategies.
Further, in Peer-2-Peer discussions, participants will discuss their personal experiences working with drivers and carriers; the challenges and opportunities facing women in the industry; successful approaches to developing warehouse supervisors into more effective leaders; and injury-reduction programs.
You won’t want to miss this valuable opportunity to discover the latest trends and best practices to help your people succeed at the WERC 2018 Annual Conference. For more information and to register, visit www.werc.org/2018 today.
The author Gerald Perritt is Vice President, U.S. Contract Logistics, Kuehne + Nagel and WERC 2018 Annual Conference Chair