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Warehouse Staffing Pressures – What Can Relieve the Pain?



Warehouse Staffing Pressures – What Can Relieve the Pain?

Warehouse Staffing Pressures are High. Is Automation the Answer? Does it Offer What Managers Need?

Everyday, managers are feeling warehouse staffing pressures and pain. They’re losing workers for as little as $0.25 more per hour and facing increasing demands.

How do organizations relieve the pain?

Workforce Management software may be the solution. In this three-part series, we’ll explore the demands and pressures that are stacking up against companies for attracting and retaining workers. You’ll discover what workforce management software is and what it can do for your operations.

Your greatest asset.

Your workforce is one of your greatest assets today. The demand and pressure around retention of that warehouse workforce is becoming greater and greater. Particularly in the last three to five years, many of our clients have seen a dramatic shift in their warehouse labor. How do you retain these workers and what can you really find that will help?

There are many tools, platforms and capabilities to help relieve some of that pain and pressure. How ready are you internally as an organization to provide some of these tools to your warehouse workforce?

Before we dig into the tool of Workforce Management itself, first consider the impact of wages, demand and automation on your business.

A huge warehouse staffing pressure is wages. And they keep going up.

On average, wages increased by 10% between 2013 – 2017 – that’s much higher than the inflation rate across that same time period. We’re seeing more distribution centers move back into large metropolitan areas which increase wages and can make it more difficult to staff.  What affects your bottom line the most? Human capital does, and a huge portion of your budget revolves around it. How can you leverage software to reduce the expenses of human capital and effectively manage your workforce?

Demand is another warehouse staffing pressure. And it’s going up.

It’s basic economics, supply and demand. Over the last two years, we’ve seen an increase of about a half million workers in the supply chain, especially the warehousing industry. Brick and mortar are disappearing but concrete and racking isn’t disappearing because people are still buying things; they’re just getting it from a warehouse instead of a store. Warehouse workers are in short supply – thus the cost goes up. Warehouse staffing pressures are increasing.

Automation could provide some relief.

We know automation is going to help – it will reduce the number of workers needed eventually. What automation is doing currently is making us more efficient. We’re strictly trying to keep up right now. And the effect? While automation is simplifying the jobs, it’s not replacing the workers. Automation is changing something else for us all. It’s creating a huge shift in who’s able to manage operations because a facility isn’t just humans anymore; it’s automation and the humans that work with this automation.

Here are two examples of what can happen when warehouse work is simplified:

Scenario 1 – Due to automated equipment, there’s less need for forklift drivers. I’m no longer limited to who has forklift training, so that helps expand my labor pool choices. Unfortunately, I’m now also competing for workers against things like Uber, grocery and retail stores on top of other warehouses. I need a tool to retain my warehouse workforce, something that gives my employees flexibility and empowerment.

Scenario 2 – It’s approximately 10,000 hours for a robot before it needs an overhaul. That’s eight full time workers – you’ll need to find workers to fill that gap. Depending on the extent of the overhaul, you won’t know if you need to fill that gap for a month or six months depending on the part needed.

What do Managers need?

The warehouse staffing pressures are only getting bigger for managers. Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. How can I avoid over scheduling?
  2. When it comes to forecasting – how do I understand who we need, when we need them?
  3. How do I manage peak season? How do we manage the influx?
  4. How do I look at previous years/months/weeks?
  5. How do I understand what buyers’ habits are?
  6. I need help managing our temporary workforce and contracted labor. It’s a wonderful thing to have those to leverage, but it presents a huge management challenge. What are the risks vs. the rewards? What are my savings with this type of workforce?
  7. How do I keep up with things like the labor laws, how many hours someone has worked, how many rest hours are required, how many breaks, lunches, etc.?

Turnover is rampant, people are sometimes ditching for as little as .25/hour. Turnover is also a challenge because of the costs to retrain – it’s at least $2k each time you have to hire someone new (higher in more metropolitan areas).

How do we resolve those challenges and give supervisors and managers real data they can use right now to help them make better, more informed decisions?

What does the warehouse workforce want?

A typical worker wants the ability to grow their skill set. With WFM, you can more easily find the commonality of your workers skill sets and move them into another area within the facility to offer them more and different work experiences. It will help you utilize the workforce you have now and give them flexibility using a simple app.

The average worker is 28 – they want flexibility, choosing when, how and where to work. Warehousing can’t be what it’s always been in order to satisfy the clicks of the consumer. Ecommerce is 24/7 and a warehouse always need to be capable of fulfilling. It’s changing the landscape of how and who we’re staffing.

Closing Thoughts

Wages and demand are going up. Automation is going to help, but turnover is still rampant. Understanding what a warehouse workforce wants and needs is the first step to solving the challenges that lie ahead, but it’s going to take more than identification to solve those issues. Workforce Management could be the tool to help. Watch for Part 2 to discover how this software could be a solution to your warehouse staffing pain.

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Jeremy Hudson

Vice President of Client Services

Jeremy’s focus is on the products and services clients need to stay competitive. Open Sky Group’s mission is to deliver technology-enabled solutions that allow our customers to achieve more while having the flexibility to adapt to change. Jeremy lives the core values and mission by bringing the best experience possible to our clients. He is an essential member of implementation teams, working alongside clients, and encouraging them to use innovation and best practices instead of customizations for success.

Jason Yantiss

Vice President of Client Services

Jason provides leadership to a variety of teams focused on implementation and integration. With 27+ years of experience holding operational and technical management roles in transportation, billing, and warehousing across a vast array of industry verticals, Jason is adept at driving multiple complex projects, understanding customer needs at all levels of the operation and providing viable solutions. Jason’s resume of 150+ implementation projects include Warehouse, Labor, Transportation, Yard Management and multiple AR/AP Freight Pay and Customer Billing systems. 

Eric McPherson

Vice President of Client Services

Mac works to oversee implementation and integration projects. A former Marine officer and military police officer, he brings over 27 years of supply chain experience, including 11 years at Blue Yonder in both delivery and service sales. Mac is a dedicated, team-oriented professional with a background in business management, professional services, customer service, and supply chain technology. His specialties include sales support, supply chain execution systems, project management, fulfillment operations, distribution operations, and GSA contracts.

Shannon Caflisch

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Shannon is responsible for the strategy and management of all sales, business development, and marketing programs. With over 25 years of sales experience and 15 years focused in the supply chain space, Shannon focuses on building strong relationships with clients and partners and strives to deliver the right software solutions to help conquer supply chain challenges. Shannon believes in learning by listening to understand clients’ goals, struggles, and what is important to their business to build lasting, successful relationships.

Alan Prillaman

Senior Vice President of Client Services

As Senior VP of Client Services, Alan oversees all consulting services and account management at Open Sky Group. Possessing over 30 years of combined industry and consulting experience, Alan leverages his unique background in IT, logistics, quality management systems, manufacturing and distribution operations, and facility and strategic account management to provide clients with creative resolutions to complex challenges. His core philosophy and passion are to deliver tangible value for and establish long-term trusted partnerships with our clients.

Mike Noble

Senior Vice President of Technology

As Senior Vice President of Technology, Mike leads Open Sky Group’s Managed Services, Software Services, Infrastructure Services, and Information Technology teams bringing 35+ years of experience in Supply Chain Execution and Information Technology. Mike and his teams ensure we maintain the highest levels of customer service in a secure and reliable environment, constantly reviewing and evaluating new technologies, their appropriateness and applicability so we can safely and securely transact our own business – and help our clients accomplish the same.

Chad Kramlich


Joining Open Sky Group in 2015, Chad, served as Chief Revenue Officer for three years prior to his appointment to CEO in 2022. With over 25 years of experience delivering results for high-growth software and consulting organizations, Chad is leveraging his background in building efficient and effective implementation teams, establishing high-impact services operations, achieving revenue growth, and deepening executive-level client relations to help propel Open Sky Group into a very successful future.

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