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Will Luxury Amenities Attract Warehouse Workers?

Nov. 18, 2019
If you’re not offering competitive wages and benefits, don’t expect to attract new talent with nail salons and free pizza.

If you build it, they will come. While this might apply to baseball fields, I’m not certain it will apply to coffee stations at warehouses.

A baseball field would actually be a good idea since warehouse workers could use the exercise that comes with playing baseball to strengthen their muscles, which might help prevent back injuries which are so common.

However, in this case we are talking about providing upscale amenities at the actual warehouses. The thinking is that if a company can offer coffee bars, lounges, patios, discounted dining venues, gyms and walking trails, it will make warehouse jobs more desirable and bring in workers that are so desperately needed.

For instance, clothing company ASOS recently designed a distribution center that includes two basketball courts, a soccer field, a gym, a pizza and grill station, and a pop-up nail bar.

While these amenities are nice and would be appreciated by employees, I think that what warehouse workers really want, like any other worker, is to be paid well, receive good health insurance, have a safe work environment, predictable schedules, reasonable policies and room for advancement. (Every year we ask readers what benefits they most appreciate, and not once has anybody said, “pop-up nail bar.”)

While warehouse wages have risen 6.7% in 2018, they are at $13.30 an hour, which is not at par with the $15 an hour minimum that companies are starting to adopt. Why work in a warehouse when you can work at Target for $15 and it’s a lot less taxing on your body?

Let’s look at health insurance. While Amazon says its warehouse workers get the exact same benefits as other employees, I’m not sure how common that is at other companies. Looking at how the warehouse sector stacks up: 82. 6% have health insurance, according to an index ranking of major businesses as created by 24/7 Wall Street, based on Census Bureau data. As far as benefits as a whole, 9% of this sector has no major benefits.

Safety is a continuing problem in the sector. The fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average for all industries. Enough said.

Now onto reasonable work schedules. Too many companies still don’t have predictable schedules and either require a lot of overtime to fulfill customer orders or cut back hours when business is slow. Often employees have no warning to be able to adjust their financial obligations.

Others still have rules that are unduly harsh. Some companies will fire employees if they are late for work a few times. Taking disciplinary action for tardiness makes sense, but to fire someone seems awfully unfair.

As for career advancement, this area is showing improvement. Walmart has announced it will offer subsidized college tuition for its 1.4 million workers in the United States.

In July of this year Amazon announced that it’s spending $700 million to train 100,000 employees for higher-skilled jobs over the next six years. The company will pay up to 95% of the cost of tuition for fulfillment center workers looking to earn a certificate or diploma in a field that’s in high demand.

While paying for training is excellent news and is a huge step in the right direction, the industry still has a long way to go in the other areas.

Putting money into employees’ pockets directly, and through a good benefits program, rather than offering coffee stations or nail salons, is the much smarter investment.

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