Warehouse workers are among the most in-demand employees, according to a recent LinkedIn report, thanks to the boom in e-commerce in the wake of the pandemic. However, despite their popularity, companies are struggling to retain warehouse employees—for instance, Amazon’s warehouse turnover rate is reportedly 150%. Adia, a staffing platform that specializes in warehouse recruitment, suggests that the reasons for exceptionally high turnover in the warehouse sector include:
- little to no feedback;
- minimal recognition;
- no opportunities for growth; and
- a toxic work culture.
In other words, warehouse workers (like other employees) are far more likely to look elsewhere if they feel unappreciated and unable to grow and develop.
So how can you create the kind of workplace that will engage and retain these valuable employees? One study found that the three most important criteria for warehouse workers were pay, job security, and company culture.
While pay and job security are both often affected by external factors, creating an enjoyable and engaging company culture can be managed internally, which opens up a big opportunity for companies to directly improve retention and engagement rates.
Incentive Programs for Warehouse Employees
One sure-fire way to create a more positive company culture is to implement an employee incentive program. Incentive programs are a systematic way to reward your employees for positive behaviors or exceptional performance in the workplace. Incentive schemes can deliver multiple benefits for your workplace, including:
In other words, if you want to create a thriving company culture, an incentive program is the right place to start. The right incentive program can help motivate your warehouse workers and keep your warehouses well-staffed.
How to Build an Effective Warehouse Incentive Program
1. Couple a living wage with performance-based bonuses.
The vast majority of warehouse workers (88%) are primarily motivated by financial rewards, so a bonus scheme can be a great strategy for engagement. Gainsharing (paying out financial rewards when certain productivity targets are met) can make a bonus scheme more affordable.
When developing your bonus program, keep a careful eye on what behaviors you are incentivizing. While increased productivity is usually a good thing, make sure that you don’t encourage workers to cut corners, overwork, or take risks in order to get their bonuses. Warehouse work is so physically demanding that Amazon calls their employees “industrial athletes.” Any bonus scheme should be carefully worded to reward only work that is completed safely.
2. Work with your employees to create a customized program.
When it comes to creating a warehouse incentive program for your warehouse workers, start by finding out what will be most helpful and motivating to them. “Successful incentive programs are built WITH your employees,” explains Anthill’s CEO Muriel Clauson.
To understand what your employees will value most in terms of benefits and perks, you can either use an employee survey system, or take advantage of weekly in-person meetings to discuss what their needs and priorities are. In general, researchers at the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) suggest that warehouse workers will prefer employee benefits with an immediate short-term impact. For instance, for workers living paycheck to paycheck, “a gas card has more value than a 401(k).”
3. Show your appreciation.
80% of employees are more motivated at work when they feel appreciated. To create a manufacturing incentive program that makes every warehouse worker feel valued, try:
- Recognizing values-based achievements, not just efficiency
Productivity is the key metric for warehouse workers, but don’t only reward them for their efficiency. Instead, make sure that you celebrate professional milestones (such as their work anniversaries), or examples of outstanding professionalism (such as training new recruits or improving a standard operating procedure). That way, your warehouse workers feel valued as individuals, not just cogs in a wheel.
- Communicating what top performance looks like, not just targets
Researchers at the London School of Commerce found that 64% of the warehouse workers they surveyed did not understand how their performance was being measured. Small wonder then that nearly half (44%) thought that their managers didn’t treat all employees equally.
To avoid this, make sure that every warehouse worker has a clear understanding of their performance targets, how these are measured, and what values and behaviors are prized in your organization. For instance, include this information in their first day of training and onboarding, and train managers to refer to these performance goals frequently during weekly meetings.
- Recognizing processes, not just results
If you only recognize and reward productivity, then workers can feel under pressure to cut corners. Instead, make sure to also reward your warehouse workers for correctly following safety procedures, completing safety training courses, or the number of tasks completed using the correct process (rather than simply the number of tasks completed).
4. Build an accessible internal communication plan.
No matter how well-designed your warehouse incentive program, it will only benefit your employees and your business if it is communicated well. Many employee rewards programs are digital-only solutions, making them inaccessible to warehouse workers and other deskless employees who don’t have access to a computer during work.
If you want your warehouse workers to feel valued and respected, then you need to communicate your incentive program to them just effectively as you would for other employees. “You can’t send an email to white-collar workers and then only put up posters for blue-collar employees,” Adam Calli, principal consultant of Arc Human Capital, told the SHRM. “You need to show up at each pre-shift meeting to deliver your message.”
You may also need to compensate for language barriers. For instance, 20% of warehouse workers in the UK in 2019 were from the European Union (although this number may have dropped post-Brexit). To make sure that every worker understands the incentive scheme, it can be helpful to identify employees who speak better English and ask them to act as communication leaders for the rest of the workforce. They can also provide you with feedback and suggestions from their teammates about how the incentive program could be improved.
Must-Have Features for Successful Warehouse Incentive Programs
In sum, if you want to create an incentive program that will be genuinely motivating for your warehouse workers, you need to customize it for their specific needs and interests. Below are a few ways Fond’s platform can help support a warehouse incentive program.
- Our mobile app
Fond’s rewards and recognition platform lets you show your appreciation for your workforce, whether they’re in the office or in the warehouse. Our mobile app solution makes it easy for deskless employees to receive appreciation in real-time and redeem rewards directly from their smartphone.
- Offline Recognition
Our Offline Recognition feature also allows employees without access to a desktop or mobile device to be recognized on the spot. Managers and peers can physically distribute unique recognition codes to employees in-person, which can then be claimed for rewards points at the recipient’s convenience by scanning a QR code or visiting the provided link.
- Thousands of relevant incentives
To make sure that your warehouse workers are truly motivated by your incentive scheme, make sure that you offer the perks and rewards they want the most. Fond’s redemption catalog is essentially unlimited and can be curated to meet your employees needs. We offer everything from gift cards to Amazon merchandise to company-branded merchandise to keep your warehouse workers engaged. There’s even a points-to-payroll option for those that would like to exchange their rewards points for cash.
If you’d like to learn more about how Fond can help you create a more effective warehouse incentive program, click here to set up a free demo and we’d be happy to talk.