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Logistics Workforce Management: Top Changes Needed

Alex Stark | May 07, 2015

KANE recently collaborated with Peerless Research Group on a survey of 252 top logistics and supply chain managers. The topic: workforce management in the warehouse.  Check out the report

workforce-management-research-briefOne of the questions asked was how the management of logistics labor can be improved to deliver the greatest value to the supply chain. Several themes emerged:

More training and education of associates

This was the most prominent theme. There was a sense, among survey respondents, that investing more time and effort in improved hiring and training would create more productive individuals making fewer mistakes. Representative comments included:

“We should aim to have fewer, but better educated and trained people.”Division Manager, mid-sized chemical company
“We need better methods of recruiting/training new hires.” Operations Manager, paper company

More use of advanced technologies and automation

Solutions such as GPS systems and more real-time reports/metrics contribute to streamlined operations and cost savings, according to survey respondents.

Experience and training drives management success slowly, but success can be realized much faster with the assistance of a logistics and labor management system.” VP of Distribution, large consumer goods manufacturer

While one out of four shippers (26 percent) assert that their labor management tools are very effective, two out of three (64 percent) said they are only somewhat effective, and 11 percent claim their current applications are ineffective.

When it comes to the use of formal labor management systems (LMS), roughly one out of five shippers (18 percent) currently have such a system in place, while another 26 percent use non-LMS technology software to manage labor productivity.

Better labor forecasting, planning and scheduling

Many shippers continue to feel that a lack of information about future volumes is increasing their labor costs. Maximizing productivity is one thing, but if poor forecasting makes it difficult to schedule the right labor to meet demand, productivity becomes secondary.

Better accountability on performance

Respondents talked about the need for better ways to give associates real-time information about their performance. Some discussed the ability to link associate productivity to the actual profitability of the account or the facility, so workers could see their role in a broader context.

“We need to tie recognition more closely to facility performance. This would help associates to see the impact they can have on the company’s bottom line.” — Logistics Director, large retailer

The importance of workforce management in the warehouse

With labor cost pressures and management challenges not expected to wane anytime soon, companies that employ good internal strategies and/or turn to reliable Warehouse Labor Management will come out the clear winners over the next few years. In return, those companies will see benefits ranging from cost reductions and workforce productivity to improved customer satisfaction and more streamlined supply chain operations.

Workforce Management Research Brief