How do you build the strongest warehouse team? According to Jeffrey LeClair, VP Manufacturing and Supply Chain at Basin Holdings LLC, a culture of retention and accountability is a big help. He should know. He has over 30 years experience in supply chain management, working for top companies in the industry.
LeClair knows logistics is a risk-averse, old-school industry. But he’s quick to note the old ways aren’t always the best. “In the old days, we didn’t communicate. We were just expected to ship whatever we were told at the last minute.” That created a number of problems on the floor. “It created a lot of costs. We had tons of inefficiencies on the floor and labor issues.” The result was a lot of time playing catch up and putting out the proverbial fire. Engaging your employees, however, can empower them to greatly exceed your expectations.
Standardization Creates Clear Expectations
Today, the push is on standardizing everyone’s role in a company. “The best companies are standardizing. We document and standardize every job.” That might sound like the opposite of empowering engagement, but it actually facilitates the type of dynamic, communicative environment you want to cultivate. Standardization creates clear expectations, ensuring employees have the tools to do the job in advance. “We expect the work to be done by the guy actually doing the job. So we ask for their input. And we let them know what to expect, so they actually understand before it’s 2 a.m. on a Friday and they’re in the middle of a rush.”
“Standardization makes people more engaged and more capable,” says LeClair. “You give them the tools to do the job. There’s no better way to get results.” Standardization can also cut down on labor costs. “You have fewer bosses standing around saying ‘thou shalt do this’ or ‘thou shalt not do that.’”
Creating a Warehouse Safety Culture
Engagement should also inform a culture of safety. In too many cases, organizations only emphasize safety for the first working week. However, LeClair says organizational solutions like small group work or daily five-minute check-ins can go a long way toward creating a culture of safety. The overall impact of showing genuine concern for safety is that employees work safer on a daily basis. They have a greater concern for their fellow employees, meaning that a lot of small things that make the workplace safer actually get done. According to LeClair, they’re also more likely to stick with your company, even when times get hard.
Empowered employees are employees who don’t dread coming to work. This makes them more productive, safer workers who will stick around longer. Just a little bit of effort on your part can reap big rewards.Want to learn more about how to make the most out of your workforce? Read our white paper on organizational and technological solutions to common labor training and efficiency challenges confronting the logistics industry today.