Creating the ultimate warehouse workforce

We can confidently say the pandemic has had a huge affect on the Australian warehousing and logistics workforce. In general, employment has fallen 6.7% between March and May 2020 (National Skills Commission). And despite starting to see improvements, the nature of a post COVID-19 supply chain workforce is vastly different to what we knew before, and attracting the best talent for your warehouse is becoming even more a challenge.

4 workers gathered in warehouse.

For warehousing, this has been a monster issue for some time. But with pandemic-added pressures like social distancing, mass unemployment and mental health challenges, recruiting is only the first step. Businesses need to address how they can maintain productivity, manage the challenges of a changing workplace and ensure safety procedures are prioritised in order to create thriving warehouse workforces.

Where to begin…

How effective leadership leads to supply chain success

In today’s mercurial environment (and by mercurial, we’re talking pandemics, technology and not to mention the global political landscape), supply chain’s need to be adaptable, agile and flexible, which means their supply chain leaders also need to be adaptable, agile and flexible.
If leaders have these, these are filtered down to warehouse teams, and when teams can manage change confidently, supply chains become indestructible.

When it comes to any business, any role, and any industry, success becomes achievable only when leadership is strong. While some employees may be autonomous and not needing strict management protocols, others may require more direction. Leaders must cater to all.

Leadership just doesn’t mean management, and when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent, businesses need to consider who it is they’re trying to recruit. For Millennials, leaders need to look at creating positive workplace cultures where employees (especially the younger generation), are happy and feel like they are contributing to a greater cause.

For Baby Boomers, following the chain of command is more common as a favourite, and are happy with following direction towards organisational goals.

Let’s deep dive further into recruiting and retaining top talent…

Here are some uTenant ways to get the right people through the door:

Make your job ads more appealing

The reality is that young people are looking for very different workplace environments post COVID, including healthier work/life balances and greater mobility. Young people especially are looking for exciting roles, and what’s more exciting than working for an industry that contributes to 8.6% of Australia's GDP, 1.2 million jobs for Australians and a $130 billion annual injection to the national economy?


Making warehousing and logistics sound appealing is another challenge within itself. We recommend focusing on the flexibility the role can offer as a leading selling point, swiftly followed by the technology potential of the industry. We have seen these two elements work firsthand with potential job candidates.

Training, Internships and Apprenticeships

Warehousing and logistics need to get themselves out more, and own a firm position with educational facilities to attract young talent. How many have you fell into the industry without a real plan? It’s a common story but there is so much opportunity to open doors for the next generation. Offering and advertising internships and other entry-level programmes will increase visibility into a warehouse and logistics career path.

Advocate for different skills and cross-train your workforce

Having a highly specialised warehouse workforce can be limiting. By celebrating the variety of skills that the warehouse sector needs, you can boost productivity a lot. Roles that offer cross-training opportunities are attractive to candidates and provide you with a solid talent pipeline. The most valuable workforce you can have is a team with a good understanding of the industry as a whole, so when turnovers are high and you lose a specialised worker, your efficiency isn’t affected.

>> More on creating the ultimate warehouse operations <<

Retaining talent and establishing a high-performing culture

One of the challenges that warehouse managers face is ensuring their teams are motivated and productive, especially as warehouse tasks can get repetitive. Let’s look at some ways to manage this:

Creating a high-performing workplace culture

Workplace culture plays a huge role in motivating your teams, and will ultimately determine how your business performs. Balancing a fun and creative warehouse culture with productivity and high-performance is the key to your overall success. There are some additional ways you can create a positive workplace environment including company events and monthly competitions.

Add variety to work schedules where possible

To help you create more productivity, we briefly spoke about providing workers with a cross-functioning workplace skillset. This means they are able to switch tasks when needed. Not only does this help with replacing a specialised worker if needed, but it also helps increase focus and motivation if tasks can be switched up throughout the weeks and months.

Financial gain as a key motivator for staff

We’ve spoken to a number of businesses who have used financial gain as a tool to increase employee motivation. Increase in salary when productivity increases is a great way to do this as it creates a continuous improvement in workforce productivity. But, be careful to address productivity that happens at the expense of safety or quality. A good way to do this would be to penalise undesirable behaviours but also celebrate suggestions to improve overall warehouse efficiency.

Managing an ageing workforce

The reliable and skilled Gen X workforce is now ageing, at the same time the millennial workforce is becoming less and less attracted to the warehouse and logistics sectors. This poses a real issue for warehouse managers and the industry as a whole. Millennials make up the largest percentage of the warehouse workforce. Retaining these teams needs to be a priority for businesses.

Warehouse KPI’s

We have compiled a list of 6 essential KPI’s for your warehouse.

We hope this helps!

For any further information about how to optimise your warehouse operations, book an obligation-free chat with our Solutions team.

Published: 3 May 2021