3 Steps to Improve Warehouse Worker Efficiency

Coby Geddes
Updated on April 12, 2021

In our last blog post, we discussed how accessibility, product flow, and storage maximization affect warehouse efficiency and productivity. Keeping with the topic of warehouse efficiency, we want to focus on the role your warehouse workers play in creating an efficient warehouse work environment.

Even the best equipment and systems still need employees and workers to run them and pick-and-pack the orders. With each employee hired, time is spent on safety training and specific position requirements. New hire training allows your employees to work cohesively on a team or crew to process, pack, and ship orders to your customers.

Besides the initial training, what else can you do to improve your workers’ efficiency?

Learn how to improve your warehouse workers’ efficiency and productivity in three simple steps. A high level of warehouse efficiency can lower costs and boost revenues.

Cross-trained workers can keep your warehouse running efficiently at all times.

Step One: Cross-train Employees

Every employee should receive task and equipment training for at least one other position on the team. If an employee requires time off, cross-training allows you to easily fill the void until the employee returns. You won’t have to contact the temp agency or spend time trying to find a suitable short-term replacement.

Cross-training allows you to fill-that-void with someone who:

  • Is already familiar with your products and processes
  • Doesn’t require on-the-fly training before starting work
  • Knows the other team members and their roles/duties
  • Doesn’t require new employee paperwork to complete, submit, and wait for approval
  • Can start work immediately

It’s easy to see how cross-trained employees allow you to work around a scheduling issue when someone is out sick for a few days. The cross-training strategy can eliminate scheduling conflicts when an employee is out for an extended timeframe, such as maternity and paternity leave and PTO (Personal Time Off).

A safe workplace reduces worker distractions and improves employee efficiency.

Step Two: Implement and Enforce Safety Standards

Every warehouse company has a safety policy in place and a process for reporting potential safety issues. Problems arise when there are only annual inspections, with policies and procedures tweaked based on the inspection results.

From an employee perspective, this creates the appearance that safety concerns are an afterthought. Monthly or quarterly training can keep safety top of mind for your warehouse workers.

Warehouse Distractions Can Impact Safety

  • If employees are worried about that loose stair tread or slightly wobbling handrail giving way, they are distracted from their work.
  • If employees are worried about the forklift driver with the lead foot screaming around the corner again, they are distracted from their work.
  • If they worry about the conveyor starting up without warning again, they are distracted from their work.

Warehouse distractions impact your employees’ efficiency and production. If you multiply that “distraction” out over several employees, or across an entire team, warehouse workers’ efficiency can quickly drop by double-digit amounts.

Implementing and enforcing safety standards creates a safer workplace for everyone. A safer workplace can minimize safety hazards as well as increase warehouse productivity.

Regular equipment maintenance can eliminate work slow-downs or stoppages.

Step Three: Regular Equipment Maintenance

The old mentality of “if it’s not broken, why fix it” has no place in the warehousing industry. Every piece of equipment in your warehouse requires regular or routine maintenance to keep working optimally. Parts can break or wear down, rendering the equipment useless until it can be repaired or replaced.

  • Equipment breakdowns can slow or completely shut down your warehouse operations.
  • Imagine if your only forklift suffers a breakdown. Vertically stored items will not be accessible until your forklift is running again.
  • Conveyor rollers can get packed with dirt or debris. This means your product isn’t going anywhere until the conveyor gets adequately serviced.
  • Pallet jacks with low fluid levels or leaking seals won’t work correctly, impacting worker efficiency yet again.

Improving warehouse worker efficiency leads to increased productivity and profits.

Maintenance Plans Can Prevent Unwanted Repairs or Equipment Replacement

Many of these breakdowns can be avoided by creating and following a regular maintenance plan. If you don’t have the service manuals already in hand, you may be able to find them via a Google search.

Assemble the maintenance information for your warehouse’s equipment and machinery, create a maintenance plan, and put it into place. Regular maintenance or service keeps your equipment running or working at maximum capacity, which allows your warehouse workers to operate at maximum efficiency.

  • Simple things like checking fluid levels, inspecting belts, and examining hoses can prevent major mechanical breakdowns.
  • Other pieces of equipment may only need regular lubrication and cleaning to keep working like new.

Streamline Warehouse Productivity through Workplace Efficiency

Through cross-training, continual safety training, and equipment maintenance, you can keep your warehouse running productively and effectively. Increase your bottom line with warehouse worker productivity and warehouse efficiency.

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