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Logistics Labor Management

4 Tips To Manage Temp Labor in the Warehouse

Alex Stark | November 05, 2015

Labor is the largest operating expense in a warehouse, eating up anywhere from 50% to 70% of the budget.  One common warehouse labor management strategy of third party logistics providers (3PLs) is the use of temp labor to handle volume spikes.

A KANE-sponsored study by Peerless Research Group found that a flexible workforce is one of the main features that companies seek from 3PLs.


But managing temp labor in the logistics warehouse comes with its share of challenges, not the least of which is maintaining the same levels of productivity and accuracy that you would get from your full-time staff. 

Because temporary workers may be one-time, short-term hires, managing them requires a slightly different approach to that used with your permanent workforce. The following four tips will help you adjust management tactics to get the most from these short-term, yet valuable additions to your team.

#1: Safety first

A good agency will already have trained your temp workers in basic health and safety practices, but you should supply new hires with a written policy and a guide to working safely in your facilities. Managing temps involves a duty to protect short-term staff from incidents and accidents.

#2: Allocate tasks wisely

In her article on Preparing Your Supply Chain For Seasonal Peaks, Deborah Ruriani suggests utilizing temps on warehouse tasks that are not complex or critical to strategic imperatives. Simpler tasks require less training, enabling short-term workers to hit the ground running.

#3: Hire temp labor on a repeat basis where possible

When working with a temp agency, keep a record of the employees the agency provides. Wherever possible, ask for temps by name, seeking to use those who have worked well for you previously. This reduces the amount of time your permanent staff spends on training temps who are new to your operation.

#4: Train, train, train.

Following tips 2 and 3 will minimize the amount of training hours needed, but quality training is an essential element to onboarding temp labor.  Because temporary workers are coming in during peak volume periods, it’s tempting to rush the onboarding process and get them out on the floor. But this can backfire if errors rise and warehouse productivity plummets. Establish a training program to familiarize new temps with your company’s culture, policies and the specific processes they will be implementing. And make sure you plan ahead so you can allocate the proper time to this orientation.

The Value of Temp Labor in Logistics

Temporary labor can add value to your organization by giving you the headcount you need, only when you need it. With the right approach to managing temps, you can maintain and even improve productivity, while controlling your largest warehouse expense.  

To learn more about labor management strategies in the warehouse, download this research study on the topic developed by Peerless Research Group.  The study summarizes the responses of 250 top supply chain managers to various labor management challenges and strategies. 

Workforce Management Research Brief