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What Warehouse Workers Want: A Strategy for Informed Workforce Decision-Making

Feb. 29, 2016
A new survey reveals what is most important to warehouse workers when they are looking for a job.

Our decision (first made in 2007) to annually survey our warehouse employees, experienced job applicants and our clients’ workers was an easy one. Why? Because we know that most strategic workforce recommendations, decisions and actions have a significant impact on overall productivity.

Insight into the workforce is critical in order to make informed and positive decisions—but not just questions like, “What is most important to you?” or “What is least important?” What was needed was a ‘deeper dive’ into the issues, asking questions not often included before in these types of surveys.

We wanted insight into subjects that—while maybe not top-of-mind to some employers—are very important in the day-to-day world of the warehouse worker. We believe the answers to questions that are not often asked have value. We wanted to go deeper to find out what makes our warehouse employees tick. What are their opinions about subjects like pay, supervision and shift preferences? What do they think about unions? If they switch jobs, what are the most common reasons?

The ProLogistix Warehouse Employee Opinion Survey was created to answer these questions, and apply the findings so we and our clients can together make sound strategic and tactical warehouse workforce decisions. We knew we had to get this survey right, because the answers can help guide us toward informed workforce strategies in an environment of knowledge, insight, alignment, transparency and communication.

We conducted the survey online, in our ProLogistix branches and at our client sites. Over 3,800 employees completed our most recent survey. An independent third party collected and recorded the results. We believe it might be the biggest and most comprehensive survey of its kind.

Our survey is intentionally broad-based, across warehouse sectors, geographic areas and skill sets. We wanted a bigger perspective on workforce issues.

And, since we have been conducting it annually for 10 years now, we are able to identify trends which allow us and our clients to more proactively manage this critical part of the business.

Here is a sneak preview of one survey result, and note how consistently pay ranks at the top:

How can findings like the one above be used to inform strategic workforce decisions?

Over the course of this four-part series of articles, we will report more survey results, examine trends, and add commentary to help put those findings in a meaningful context. Next, we will tackle the ‘so what’ type of questions, such as, “How can I take this information and apply it to my workforce?” Finally, we will offer our own recommendations on how these survey results can help you create a more productive and engaged workforce.

Keith Wisner is vice president of workforce and supply chain analytics at EmployBridge, a light industrial staffing company, which includes a portfolio of supply chain workforce solutions specialty companies, including ProLogistix, which focuses on warehousing and distribution.

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