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Warehouse Peak Season

How to Prep for a Busy Peak Season

Sept. 19, 2022
Take steps ahead of time to ensure your warehouse team is prepared, efficient and well-recognized for their efforts.

Thanksgiving is less than 90 days away. And as you probably know, the holiday season can easily make or break your facilities’ distribution and operations targets. This is peak season for most of our country’s supply chain, and given the challenges of the last couple of years, we can expect a particularly challenging period ahead.

How are you preparing your hard-working (and sometimes overworked) facility teams for that tough season ahead? What are you doing to ensure that your managers and team members are mentally, emotionally and physically equipped for peak efficiency?

1. Reevaluate Your Time Tracking Process

Do you have a streamlined process for tracking the hours worked by all team members? Do you have at-a-glance access to this tool? If you don’t have a fast and efficient way to check in on your team’s time, then you can’t ensure the effective use of your resources. You also won’t be able to catch potential issues with overwork and exhaustion. When your employees are overtired and overworked, they’re not only more likely to make mistakes that could lead to operational issues or safety incidents, they’re also more likely to get burnt out on the job and leave.

2. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Huddles

I lead operations for a company that specializes in improving safety and uptime for some of the country’s largest industrial facilities. One of the ways we reach, engage, inform and retain our facility teams—especially in the lead up to busy periods—is to encourage, facilitate and support peer-to-peer huddles on key topics. For example, we encourage our team members to lead their own info sessions on topics like hydration in the heat of summer, or the proper execution of basic first aid. Every team member is an expert in something, and has something of value to share. This peer-to-peer engagement can help you achieve myriad team goals simultaneously.

3. Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Average Employee

Few leaders take the time to really put themselves into the shoes of their average team member. Among your frontline—the folks who are doing some of the most physically demanding and stressful work to maintain the operations of your business—your turnover is likely higher than anywhere else. Have you ever tried to shadow one of them, interview them or experience their day-in-the-life experience? This exercise could be a telling way to identify pitfalls and problems ahead of a season when peak productivity really matters.

4. Mandate Breaks and Lunches

We recently launched a summer incentive program to encourage our facility teams to take their allotted breaks and lunches. This involved providing a financial incentive of $25 a day ($250 per payroll) for every technician who logged 90 hours in a payroll period. This stipend—specifically promoted as money for lunches, snacks and hydrating beverages—went a long way toward nudging our team members toward appropriate breaks.

5. Establish a Special Recognition Program

In anticipation of an extremely busy season, and in recognition of all the dedication your team has already shown, I recommend establishing a special recognition program for your team members—specifically intended to run for the duration of your peak time. This might mean recognizing a whole facility team based on the number of days without a vehicle incident, or it could mean calling out a specific team member every week or even every day of the season.

With these tips in place, your warehouse employees will be empowered into a great position to succeed (and stick around) this holiday season. In times of peak business, it’s critical that you take steps ahead of time to ensure your team is prepared, efficient and well-recognized for their efforts.

Alyssa Toney is senior director, national operations & customer care at Miner, the docks and doors special division of OnPoint Group.

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