The U.S. is seeing a competitive job market, where applicants are in the drivers’ seats and employers are competing for their attention. By the end of 2019, the jobless rate hit a 50-year low. Warehouse operations managers have to get creative to attract and retain high quality warehouse workers.
Let’s take a look at warehouse staffing by the numbers, including how jobs in this field have grown in the last 20 years — and are expected to continue to grow over the next decade. We’ll also cover ways to get applicants’ attention, as well as tips that will help hiring managers compete for the best applicants.
First, warehousing by the numbers.
Jobs in Warehousing Expected to Grow through 2028
Jobs in the warehousing and transportation industries have increased over the last decade, and the demand for workers is expected to increase through the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why the increased in demand for warehouse workers? The answer should be no surprise: The increase in ecommerce added 70,000 jobs from 2018 to 2019, according to The Wall Street Journal. As major online retailers open fulfillment centers across the country in an effort to fill customers’ orders and deliver goods quicker, postings for warehouse-related jobs have been increasing.
With average wages hovering just over $20 an hour for warehouse workers and decreased unemployment rate in this field, experts predict that wages will increase over the next 10 years, which could mean a more expensive workforce for you. Thomasnet reports that major metropolitan centers are already seeing wage increases of 10% or more, because they are fiercely competing for workers. But it’s not just wages that employers are competing with.
Companies that expect to stand out among prospects will need to think about adding perks such as:
- Signing and retention bonuses
- Paid time off and breaks during the work day
- Paid incentives like performance bonuses
- Flexible work hours and shifts
The biggest takeaway for employers is that the demand for warehouse workers is growing faster than the supply. Add to that an 18-year low in the U.S. unemployment rate across all sectors, and the message is clear: Warehouse managers are competing for quality workers, which means the costs to attract, hire and retain quality workers are very likely to increase.
Now, on to the good stuff: How to compete for workers in a tight employment market.
Tips to Compete for Warehouse Workers
How does an employer get competitive about attracting warehouse workers? It’s more than just wages and benefits. Our experience with fulfilling warehouse jobs tells us that culture and perks are just as important.
Here are three tips for creating job postings that attract quality workers:
Write job postings that you’d want to apply for:
When you post for open positions, write job descriptions that grab job-seekers’ attention. Remember that this is a job-seeker’s market. If your job posting comes across as stiff, formal and like a list of do’s and don’ts, prospects are likely to skip your opening and hit the “next” button. Let your job postings communicate your company culture. Your applicants want to know what it will be like to work for you by using “you” more than “we.”
- Instead of this: “We offer competitive benefits. We hold our team to high quality standards. We are looking for the right candidate for this position.”
- Try this: “If you’re looking for a strong company culture, competitive benefits and a long-term employer-employee relationship with growth opportunities…”
Don’t use your job description for job postings:
Your job descriptions are like legal documents that, when you hire people, will define your workforce’s goals, duties and responsibilities. Your managers will use the job description as a basis for performance reviews. A job posting is a sales pitch that says to your prospects, “Here is what we are looking for, here is what we can do for you, and here is how to apply.” Don’t copy and paste job descriptions as help-wanted postings. Take time to rewrite them, and use a conversational tone, as if you were describing the position to someone sitting next to you at a coffee shop.
- Instead of this: “Workers are expected to work 40 hours per week and must be able to select, pick and ship customer orders efficiently and in a timely manner. You must be able to stand for extended periods and carry up to 50 pounds…”
- Try this: “Our warehouses are just one stop on the long journey from the people who make things to their customers. We’re looking for enthusiastic workers who are ready to join an exciting and growing company. You’ll need to be able to think quickly on your feet – literally. The people on this team stand for extended periods and lift and carry up to 50 pounds. It’s a full-time gig (40 hours a week) with excellent benefits…”
Tell your humble yet proud story:
Employees want to work for someone whom they can relate to and whom they can feel proud to work for. To capture their attention, share your history. What values does your company hold? What makes you as an employer stand out from your competition?
- Instead of this: “Our company is a Fortune 500 company that employs more than 2,000 workers around the world.”
- Try this: “Founded in 1980, our company has grown from a single storefront to one of the most respected organizations, thanks in large part to our workforce. Our 2,000-and-growing workers are in more than a dozen countries around the world. We live and breathe by our core mission…”
Using Inclusive Recruiting to Create a Larger Pool of Applicants
In addition to doing a better job up front of presenting your organization as a best place to work, you can use a tactic called inclusive recruiting to cast a wider net to attract a bigger pool of applicants. Sometimes the term is used when a company wants to build a more diverse workforce, but it’s more than just diversification. Inclusive recruiting is also about making sure you don’t skip over candidates that, on paper, might lack the hard skills you need, but in reality may have the soft skills you are looking for.
Ways you might use inclusive recruiting to broaden your pool of applicants:
- Emphasize soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, strategic thinking and time management instead of hard skills (which can be trained) such as equipment maintenance, data entry, software comprehension and inventory tracking and management.
- Consider hiring retirees for part-time or contract positions. They bring decades of experience and may be looking for supplemental income.
- Use a “rubric” for scoring candidates based on criteria that are important to your organization and the position. For example, you might score them on years of experience, technical knowledge, leadership experience, education and work history. If you find you are not attracting high quality candidates, you might consider changing your criteria or minimum acceptable scores.
- Work with an industrial recruiting firm to help you through the arduous task of screening applicants. Partner with a recruiting firm that has a proven track record for building temporary and permanent warehouse staff.
The last point, working with an industrial recruiting firm, warrants more details. The last section will help you understand how working with a recruitment firm can cut hiring costs, build a more reliable workforce and reduce the burden of hiring for your managers.
Use an Industrial Recruitment Firm for Hiring Warehouse Workers
Your job as a human resources professional extends beyond posting for open and temporary jobs, vetting candidates and conducting job interviews. You’re one part accountant, one part career counselor, one part conflict resolution specialist, one part events coordinator and one part recruitment manager.
You have a lot to do, so working with a recruitment firm to fill positions quickly with well-qualified and trained candidates is key to your and your company’s success.
The advantages of working with a recruitment firm to hire warehouse workers are numerous. Look for a firm that offers the following:
- A large pool of workers, ready to work at a moment’s notice
- Safety training
- A custom-trained workforce, specific to your company
- Tactics for sourcing “hidden” talent
- Screening for success factors, such as reliability, efficiency and dependability
- Skill evaluations, so you get only the best, most qualified candidates
- E-verify and other worker verification services
TERRA Staffing Group uses a proprietary workforce management system to build a large pool of qualified candidates for your job. We’ll do as much screening and workforce preparation as you need. We’re designed to plug into your organization, whether you need full-service human resources management or just a pool of applicants to fill seasonal, part-time or full-time positions in your growing organization.
Learn more about recruiting and talent acquisition by viewing one of our most popular webinars, presented by TERRA Staffing Group CRO, Jenifer Lambert, called Talent Acquisition Insights — 2019. Jenifer covers TERRA’s total talent management approach to staffing, as well as even more tools for increasing your pool of talent. Connect with TERRA Staffing Group today for in-depth warehouse staffing solutions and keep your organization competitive.