Your distribution and fulfillment employees are what we at Wearwell call “industrial athletes” - workers who give it their all, all day long, as they bend, reach, stand and crouch. Their workplaces pressures and demands on their bodies not unlike those of a professional athlete. As we welcome a new year, it’s a great time to take a few moments to reflect on these employees and on your current practices. It’s important to evaluate what’s working, what’s not, and what your goals are moving forward.

Here, find four ways that you can support your fulfillment and distribution workers in 2019.

1. Create career paths for your employees.

This year is a great time to ask yourself a few questions: Do I offer my employees chances to grow and develop new skills? Am I able to provide a structured path for my distribution center workers to advance in their careers? Am I able to reward them for staying long term? How can I attract and keep the most qualified employees?

People working in your distribution centers may be looking for opportunities to advance within your company - and if they don’t find them with you, they may be willing to leave for an employer who can offer them paths for growth. Distribution center turnover can cost $3000-10,000 per employee, not to mention the costs of errors and customer service mistakes that result from turnover and utilizing temporary employees, so keeping your workers committed to your brand with career paths is mutually beneficial for all involved.

2. Give your workers a better floor to stand on.

Workers who spend the majority of their day standing or walking (sometimes upwards of 10 miles per shift!) on unforgiving concrete quickly develop a host of physical ailments - from shin splints to swollen legs and feet to musculoskeletal disorders and more. These physical symptoms can also lead to increased negative feelings regarding work and decreased productivity, as well as an uptick in absenteeism.

Fulfillment and distribution workers are incredibly susceptible to these issues simply because of the nature of their daily job. By installing anti-fatigue matting and giving your employees a better floor to stand on, you are letting them know that you value them and their wellbeing. If you’re not sure where to begin when looking at industrial anti-fatigue matting choices, our experts are ready to help with a free site survey.

3. As much as possible, offer predictable hours and shifts.

Employment in distribution and fulfillment means, by definition, working long shifts and changing employment needs with each season. It goes without saying that there will likely be some variety over the course of a year in your employee’s hours. As much as possible, however, offer predictable, consistent shifts to your workers.

Unpredictable shifts with hours that change from day to day increase work-home conflict and decrease morale. Invest in giving your employees the most consistent schedules that you can, and you will reap the benefits of their loyalty as well as their morale and productivity boosts.

4. Create a positive workplace culture.

When you are managing a distribution center, your responsibilities are many and your daily tasks can seem innumerable. It’s important, though, to take some time every day to step away from your desk and get onto the actual floor. Time spent interacting with your workers will help them feel supported and significant, will help you with troubleshooting and problem solving, and will help your company through increased productivity, higher morale, and fewer mistakes. Need some other ways to develop a positive culture in your distribution center?

  • Offer incentives - Rewarding employees for work that goes above and beyond (and ultimately brings savings to your company) is a great way to boost productivity and quality. At the same time, employees who receive incentives will be motivated and inspiring to others. While it requires some planning and foresight at the outset to make sure you get it right, developing such a program may be a great way for you to focus on the positives within your work environment.

  • Celebrate successes - If you’re not ready to implement an incentive program, you can still take the time and resources required to celebrate your team’s successes. Set achievable fulfillment goals and be consistent in acknowledging their achievement. Your employees will feel acknowledged, supported and appreciated.

  • Provide support in a changing industry - The fulfillment and distribution industry is changing. Many companies are considering, or have already implemented, greater use of automation within their warehouses. This can be nerve-wracking and off-putting for your staff. Take time to talk with them about what the future looks like, what the long-term plan is, and how they will fit into it. Offer professional development training to help your employees adapt to their new roles, and provide incentives to encourage them to participate. The more support they have from you to adjust to changes, the more productive they will ultimately be.

Your fulfillment and distribution workers are the foundation of the success of your business. Let 2019 be the year that you focus on offering them the support that they need to do their greatest work yet.