By Jeremy Hudson, August 13, 2019
How WFM Contributes to the Future of the Supply Chain Industry
Warehouse workers are in short supply. In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we explored the pressures that are bearing down on you today in staffing your warehouse, as well as the kind of relief that workforce management software (WFM) can bring. As we move toward the future, companies need help facing the challenges of the 24/7 ecommerce market. WFM provides benefits to warehouse managers and staff, while ensuring that your warehouse will always be capable of meeting its demands. Discover what may lie ahead for your warehouse and WFM in this final section of this series.
Look at the future – the Campus method
If we’re to imagine what warehouses are going to look like in a few years, based on the trends we’re seeing, a large part of this will be campus-based. A stand-alone, single warehouse is going to struggle to staff effectively when you take into account the need to respond to consumer habits, the available labor pool, the amount of warehousing that’s going to be necessary, etc.
We’re already seeing 3PLs doing campus-based warehousing. What does this mean and how do you manage and staff that effectively? With automation and software simplifying tasks and roles, that translates into being able to do the exact same thing in multiple locations, making staffing across multiple warehouses much more easily accomplished. The same worker may be assigned to one warehouse on Monday, a different one on Tues/Thurs and a different one on Friday.
AI and ML are going to play a large role as well, predicting what consumers want before they know they want it. It’s already out there, it’s happening.
How can we leverage that in staffing our warehouses effectively and how can we leverage this next step of having campus-based users and users that are able to rotate from building to building and log their skill sets?
Ultimately this is where WFM is going to play a huge role. Warehouses are siloed. That can’t be if we expect to retain good talent and train that talent effectively.
WFM will help companies answer questions like, “How do I employ someone I can only give 12 hours a week to, but next week is 16 and maybe after that its 20?”
What does Workforce Management offer?
Flexibility / Empowerment
We are competing across a larger, wider pool for labor in the warehouse. We want that flexibility and enablement. WFM can give you the power that the tech companies have, the ones leveraging the gig workforce. Consider WFM the gig workforce software for warehousing. Companies are responding to consumer habits. Consumer habits are driving the need for warehouses to be extremely responsive and flexible. This generation wants flexibility and empowerment in their employment. In offering that flexibility to the warehouse worker, we’ll be better positioned to continue to be flexible with serving those consumer habits.
Forecasting / Visibility
Forecasting will give you the ability to create staffing schedules based on statistical data. You’ll be able to reach out to temp agencies for exactly what you need and not overspend. You’ll be able to give visibility to employees for performance, profiles, availability, accruals – all in an app and presented back to you as a manager.
There are a number of workforce management solutions that tie into Labor and Warehouse Management. You really want a platform that’s going to give you flexibility and compliance and allow you to look at your workforce holistically so you can see associated costs, not just what’s inside the four walls.
Are you organizationally ready to handle the type of workforce that you might not even know is available to you now?
Some companies are part of the way there in using temporary workers. Some companies are making use of college students who may be open to taking evening shifts more than the average warehouse worker.
We cannot continue to have 15 – 25% turnover – it’s too costly. As you work through considering alternative types of employees and examining platforms, these things ultimately lead to one goal which is retention of employees by offering them flexibility in a way that works for them – and for you.