The winter presents several obstacles for warehouse workers: cold temperatures, limited natural daylight, increased order fulfillment demands, and fast-paced workdays. Most of these circumstances are beyond the warehouse’s control, but there are steps the owners can take to improve conditions and create a positive work environment during the winter. Here are some strategies we use to improve warehouse work conditions.
Set Reasonable Work Expectations
This is the peak shopping season, and orders are expected to fly out of the warehouse as soon as they come in. With that in mind, workers still should only be accountable for reasonable goals. Even working at maximum efficiency, each step of the order fulfillment process takes time. Try to push those time limits too far, and you end up with stressed out workers who feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated. That stress will hurt production levels, not help them.
Amazon has been under fire for quite some time now because of poor warehouse work conditions. Former employees say that they were forced to take timed bathroom breaks, move around like herds of cattle, and work marathon-style shifts just to reach their production goals. No matter how important efficiency is, employee safety should always come first.
Maintain Pleasant Indoor Temperatures
It’s hard to keep a warehouse at a good temperature during the winter because the docks are constantly open. This lets cold air in that is almost impossible to combat with heaters. Nevertheless, the warehouse work conditions need to be as tolerable as possible. Unused bays should be closed off from the cold, and doors connecting the loading area to the rest of the warehouse should be kept closed as well.
Workers who must be in the coldest parts of the warehouse should be allowed frequent breaks to warm up, and they should be given adequate clothing to reduce the effects of the cold. Thermal gloves, hats, jackets, shoes, and other clothing should be part of the work uniform for the winter. Use independent temperature controls to fight the cold in different areas of the warehouse, and workers will be a lot more productive in the long run.
Keep the Floors Clean
Workers are more likely to trek in snow, ice and water during the winter. This can make the floors slick and unsafe to walk across. Increase cleaning efforts in the warehouse to fit the needs of the season, and place caution signs in areas with high water buildup (near the entry way). You may also require workers to keep their work shoes in the warehouse. They can change out of their personal shoes when they arrive for their shifts and store them in their locker.
Reward Loyal Employees
With the influx of seasonal workers in the winter, it is easy to lose sight of the long-term employees that keep the warehouse running throughout the year. Reward these workers with a holiday party, a Christmas bonus, or something else to show them how much you care. With the right warehouse work conditions in winter, loyal employees will continue to thrive in the new year.
For more information about warehousing, Contact Overflo at 1-800-626-0616