Warehouse operators can’t afford to lose laborers right now. Poor working conditions at warehouses owned by some retail chains have made national and international news, making it difficult for even the best warehouse operators to attract new talent to the industry. Furthermore, unemployment in the warehousing sector continues to hover under 5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which means most people interested in working in warehouses are probably already working at one.
As a result, most warehouses are struggling to fill open roles for associates, forklift drivers, and various other essential positions. But warehouse managers must ensure that their focus on external hiring doesn’t reduce efforts to keep existing workers engaged and productive.
What is Quiet Quitting in the Warehouse?
You’ve probably heard the term “quiet quitting,” in which an employee makes a quiet commitment to doing the least amount of work necessary to avoid getting fired. Looking at it from the employee’s perspective, they may view it as setting better boundaries for work/life balance or only committing to the level of labor they get compensated for.
However you look at it, the point here is that warehouses are not immune from quiet quitting. If a warehouse employee doesn’t feel appreciated by their employer, they may choose to disengage from the work rather than going above and beyond for a job where they don’t feel valued. Some signs of an employee quiet quitting in the warehouse may include:
- No longer volunteering for overtime.
- Not wanting to train new hires.
- Making frequent negative comments about the job or company.
- Noticeable drops in productivity metrics compared with past data.
- Isolating from other warehouse team members.
- No longer providing feedback during meetings or training.
If these signs sound familiar, your warehouse might have a quiet quitting problem.
4 Ways You Can Fight Quiet Quitting
A warehouse manager’s knee-jerk reaction to the quiet quitting trend may be to fire any employees that seem checked out. However, if numerous warehouse employees seem disengaged, that may signify a need to make systemic changes in your facility. Here are some ways you can push back against quiet quitting:
- Get better perks
Suppose compensation and benefits in your warehouse are on par with other similar facilities in your region. In that case, you may need to offer some perks to help you stand out as an employer and inspire your workers to reengage with the job. Some low-cost perk options might include:
- Free coffee/snacks
- Free meals
- Indoor and outdoor break spaces
- Non-performance-related contests with prizes, like event tickets or paid days off
- Cash or prize incentives for meeting KPIs
- Access to gym equipment
- Address burnout
Burnout has become a significant problem in warehousing and logistics, especially for those associates who were in warehouse jobs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Even now, the logistics labor shortage often means that existing employees get assigned required overtime because there’s nobody else to work. This sort of environment is unsustainable over the long term and will eventually cause warehouse workers to quiet quit (assuming they don’t outright quit altogether).
Everybody needs time to reset. However, given the labor crunch at most warehouses, managers can easily create an environment where associates feel bad about taking vacation—even if that environment was created unintentionally. To avoid burnout, encourage your workers to use all their paid time off (PTO). If possible, bring in temporary workers to cover shifts rather than forcing other full-time employees to cover vacations.
Beyond PTO, find other ways to take pressure off employees. That could mean making additional hires. It could also mean onboarding new technologies that can reduce strain, such as software solutions that help to anticipate demand and facilitate more accurate scheduling.
- Engage warehouse associates
If you aren’t sure what your employees might want or need to feel appreciated or how to help them come back from burnout, then try polling them or asking workers directly to see how you can improve their experience on the job. Most unhappy employees will have opinions about ways the job could be better.
Once you have a few ideas about possible positive changes, follow through on making them happen. Then, when your employees see action on their ideas, they should start to reengage and provide you with even better feedback about their experiences on the warehouse floor.
- Build a better culture
Realistically, the previous suggestions come down to a culture shift at your organization. Find a way to balance your revenue sheet with the needs of your employees, and your employees will notice. Some cultural elements to focus on may include:
- Providing clear expectations about performance.
- Offering paths for career growth.
- Ensuring reliable access to healthcare and mental healthcare.
- Create processes for employees to communicate complaints and ideas.
- Promote work/life balance as much as possible.
Remember, the best way to combat quiet quitting is to create a workplace where people don’t want to quit.
About Phoenix Logistics
Strategic Real Estate. Applied Technology. Tailored Service. Creativity. Flexibility. These fundamentals reflect everything we do at Phoenix Logistics. We provide specialized support in locating and attaining the correct logistics solutions for every client we serve. Most logistic competitors work to win 3PL contracts, and then attempt to secure the real estate to support it. As an affiliate of giant industrial real estate firm Phoenix Investors, we can quickly secure real estate solutions across its portfolio or leverage its market and financial strength to quickly source and acquire real estate to meet our client’s need.