As a warehouse manager, your facility is only as good as the team who runs it. As the retail industry continues to move online, warehouses across the country are quickly adding staff to keep up with consumer demand for e-commerce products. Brick-and-mortar stores are largely going the way of the dinosaur, and many of these former retail employees are heading to a local warehouse in search of work.

Many warehouse and fulfillment companies are turning to automation as a way of reducing their overhead costs. However, a recent report from the Labor Center at UC Berkeley suggests traditional warehouse employees aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Warehouse facilities are using technology to decrease the skill requirements of jobs in order to reduce training times and turnover costs.

If you are trying to streamline the training process at your warehouse facility, use these onboarding tips to improve efficiency and reduce your hiring costs.  

Assess Your Staffing and Training Needs

Before you begin hiring and training the next set of employees, consider the long-term needs of your facility. The warehousing industry is quickly evolving at lightning speed, and your employees should be familiar with the latest trends if they are going to succeed in their new roles. 

If you are considering adding new technology or automating certain routine processes, look for employees who have the tech skills you’re looking for. These new workers will quickly adapt to these new programs as they come online so you don’t have to worry about new hires falling behind. 

As it turns out, the warehousing industry is in the middle of a talent shortage when it comes to finding highly skilled workers. Warehouses that use automation are having trouble hiring qualified individuals to work and maintain these machines, which is hindering growth. Do your best to recruit highly skilled workers by increasing the starting rate of pay, expanding your recruiting efforts and updating your job descriptions.

Every warehouse is different so make sure hires have the skills you need to take your business to the next level. Look for workers who can bring valuable skills to the table, such as organization and inventory management and customer service skills for managing orders and interfacing with clients, as well as the technical skills to improve your operations over time. 

Treat every employee like a potential new business partner. Make room for professional development to keep these workers invested in your business. If your warehouse is going to succeed, you will likely need to keep these employees around for the long-term so they can grow alongside your business

Allocate Certain Tasks to Individual Employees

Not all your employees need to complete the same tasks. To increase efficiency, consider allocating specific responsibilities to certain employees. This way, your workers can focus on one task instead of wearing multiple hats at once. 

For example, only a few of your employees may need to learn how to drive and use a forklift when loading and unloading heavy items. Other workers can focus on unwrapping packages and slotting items in different containers, while the rest of your team gets these items into position.

Get a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of your workers as time goes on. If someone has a knack for finding specific items and containers in your warehouse, they can oversee item retrieval. If another worker has experience building up boxes and containers, they can help with order fulfillment. 

Reduce Inefficiency with Proper Warehouse Management

You don’t want to train your employees on an inefficient system. Make sure your warehouse is designed for optimal efficiency before giving new hires the lay of the land. 

To get started, consider rearranging the layout of your facility. Break up the space with stack racks and arrange your inventory in a way that makes sense to you and your team. Keep in-demand items low to the ground and close to the loading dock to reduce retrieval times. Switch to bulk containers to boost efficiency so your employees don’t have to worry about loading and unloading hundreds of individual packages by hand. Use nesting totes and plastic trays to separate dissimilar items, enabling your workers to quickly find what they need on the shelf. 

When training your employees, watch out for certain redundancies and mistakes that can delay your operations. New workers shouldn’t have to touch items more than they need to. Adopt a lean model to reduce the amount of clutter around your warehouse. Your employees should get in the habit of sorting incoming orders right away and organizing your inventory throughout the day. 

Focus on Safety and Proper Ergonomics 

Back and muscle injuries remain all too common in the warehouse industry. Your workers could easily injure themselves if they use their back to pick up a heavy item, handle your products by hand instead of using a forklift or dolly or by getting too close to complex pieces of equipment. 

Teach your employees how to lift items the correct way. Make sure your workers wear protective gear when handling equipment. And give your workers enough space to complete the task at hand. They shouldn’t have to worry about colliding into one another or stepping on each other’s toes. Use collapsible containers to free up additional space around your facility. 

Adjust Your Training Program Over Time

Once you get your new training program up and running, make room for improvements so your warehouse doesn’t get left behind. Continue monitoring the success of your training program to make sure your employees have the skills they need on the job. Monitor item retrieval and order fulfillment times and look for ways to increase efficiency at every turn. 

Creating a training program is one of the most important aspects of running a warehouse. You need your team to succeed in their new roles if you are going to last in this highly-competitive industry. Focus on efficient warehouse management, the latest technological trends and other important factors that can affect the success of your employees.