Recruit warehouse workers like a pro

January 29, 2020 Casey Nighbor

With the current job market and everything related to the pandemic, finding and hiring qualified warehouse workers is most likely a challenge.

At distribution and fulfillment centers, recruiters need to possess a higher level of ingenuity and skill than ever before. The expansion of eCommerce, coupled with unpredictability in the market, has produced a rising need for workers throughout the supply chain.

In fact, our recent survey showed that as many as half of employers are struggling to fill open positions in their operation.

The reality is that you need more warehouse workers, but you’re competing with other companies (and even with different industries) for a shrinking pool of available talent in your area.

So how do you give your operation the edge?

We put together this handy guide to help you attract warehouse workers to your manufacturing, distribution or fulfillment operation.

1. Start early and make sure you’re headed in the right direction

The best time to start recruiting for an open spot, of course, was yesterday, but today is the next best time, so don’t delay.

Denise Park, a recruitment manager at Staff Management | SMX, believes that timing is everything.

“Many people make a mistake by starting the recruitment process when it’s closer to the time frame for the workforce requirements given that month by the distribution or fulfillment center,” says Park.

“Unfortunately, the candidate pool has usually dwindled by then, so the recruiter winds up being reactive rather than proactive, which leaves the recruitment team grasping at straws for candidates.”

This lesson is fairly straightforward. You need to build a candidate pipeline and that means you need to start recruiting right away. You should aim to have new warehouse workers on the job at least a couple weeks before your peak.

It’s also important to start your recruitment drive by putting the right foot forward. When you create a job description, you can’t immediately assume job seekers will be on the same page as you.

“Be as specific as possible,” says Gurvinder Dhaliwal, who also works as a recruiting manager at Staff Management | SMX.

“Not all warehouse work is the same. If you post for an ‘order picker,’ that can mean walking for 8 to 10 hours and picking items off of a shelf, or it could also mean operating a powered industrial truck (PIT), which reaches a height of 50 feet to pick items.”

For a successful recruiting process, you and your candidates need to be synced up. If you start the hiring drive early, you’ll also have time to do multiple rounds of interviews with different people in your department, a strategy that can help clear up any misunderstanding between companies and job seekers.

If you’re struggling to come up with creative recruitment ideas to attract the right people, check out our quick guide to help get you started.

2. Lean on referrals to help you find the best candidates

Referrals are a tried-and-true recruiting tactic and they can be really useful for finding and hiring high-quality warehouse workers. This strategy allows you to tap into networks of people who might otherwise not see your job ads.

Referrals work for a simple reason. Workers who support the company want to facilitate connections with the family members and friends they think might be a good fit.

In addition to instituting a formal referral program, informal social events can help facilitate referrals too.

The first benefit of using referrals to attract warehouse workers is information. You already have firsthand insight into the applicant’s character and work history.

Many job seekers in this field don’t have resumes detailing their experience, so a friend or family member of theirs, who knows the job, will be able to take an educated guess about whether or not their referral can do the work.

Additionally, if you do hire a new team member through a referral, the new worker will already know one of their colleagues, making them more likely to be engaged on the job.

Perhaps most importantly, your veteran worker will be able to give their referral an informed perspective about what makes your workplace or job offer stand out compared to other available jobs in the area.

3. Know your community and make your job offer distinct for the region

This last tip is only possible if recruiting managers keep their ears to the ground in an effort to find out what the job seekers in their community are looking for.

The idea is that you don’t have to compete for warehouse workers solely using your wage rate. There are perks that make your workplace distinct when compared to other distribution or fulfillment centers, and when compared to job opportunities in other industries.

The key is to tailor those features to the needs of your community. At Staff Management | SMX, one of our special job offer benefits, which is an optional component of our onsite staffing solution, is flexible scheduling.

Sometimes you have to get creative too.

If your distribution center is located somewhere that’s hard to access using public transit, providing a free shuttle for workers can help increase your candidate pool.

Education can be a great perk too. As with other occupations, industrial workers are often drawn to jobs where they’ll have the chance to learn new skills or gain knowledge and certifications that could help them progress in their careers.

Once you understand the needs of the talent pool in your community, you’ll discover new opportunities for increasing the appeal of your job offer, and you’ll stand out when compared to other workplaces in the area.

Rise to the recruiting challenge

Recruiting for distribution and fulfillment centers can be uniquely challenging these days. More and more businesses are attempting to draw talent from a smaller pool of applicants than ever before. If you want to know how to attract warehouse workers to your company, there are some simple strategies you can follow.

If you feel like your plate is full when it comes to recruiting warehouse workers to fill positions at your facility, our onsite staffing teams are experts at recruiting contingent workers. We can help you scale your operation during peak season as well as during other times of demand volatility.

Want to learn more about what we can do for your warehouse? Contact us today to get started.

About the Author

About Casey: Content marketing manager, frequently reading, aspiring chef, failed plant mom, connoisseur of tater tots, beauty products and airplane food.

Follow on Linkedin More Content by Casey Nighbor
Previous Article
Material Handling Technology: 4 Keys to Successful Implementation
Material Handling Technology: 4 Keys to Successful Implementation

New technology can really help you streamline material handling processes in your warehouse or fulfillment ...

Next Article
Cybersecurity for Industrial Control Systems: Attacks Are Everyone’s Concern
Cybersecurity for Industrial Control Systems: Attacks Are Everyone’s Concern

As industrial control systems become more complex with the expansion of the IIoT, mitigation of cyberattack...