PeopleGuru Blog

How to Attract and Retain Talent in Warehouse and Distribution Roles

Posted by Guest Post on Jan 25, 2022 8:45:00 AM

warehouse talent

A recent study by Deloitte revealed that there will be an anticipated 2.1 million unfulfilled roles in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution in the USA. Due to their unglamorous image, and the rise in the number of such roles caused by the explosion of eCommerce during the pandemic, warehouse and distribution roles are becoming harder to fill by the month.

Companies that hire for such roles need to change the way that such roles operate and are advertised to make them more appealing to candidates. 

We will explain a few ways that we have consistently managed to source talent for the distribution centre of our tire retailer. These strategies should be able to be applied to any hard-to-fill warehouse, distribution or manufacturing role.

Offer a clear career pathway from the warehouse floor to management

One of the reasons why warehouse and distribution centre roles can be difficult to fulfill are that they have a reputation for being “dead end” jobs that offer little in the way of career prospects.

Even if this reputation is deserved, it is up to employers of these positions to change people’s perception of warehouse roles by offering clear pathways that warehouse operatives can take to get into middle and senior management positions.

Some ways that companies can do this include:

  • Offering secondments to warehouse operatives where they can shadow leaders in other areas of the business.
  • Having a policy where a proportion of applicants for management positions need to be sourced from within a company.
  • Having mentoring programs where warehouse operatives can have one-on-one training with leaders in the company.

If a company has “career case-studies” of people who have risen from the warehouse floor to senior management positions, these should be used in recruitment-marketing materials to help overcome candidates’ objections that warehouse roles are jobs with little in the way of career progression.

Offer benefits that directly make up for the rigors of warehouse roles

A lot of candidates are put off applying for warehousing roles because they know that the job is physically demanding, relatively dangerous and often require staff to work anti-social hours.

Employees in these roles should therefore be offered compensation packages and benefits that directly address any problems that could be faced as a result of working such a role.

The most obvious of these is offering higher pay than more clerical work that requires the same level of expertise and experience. Since warehousing roles are physically demanding, and that accidents are more likely to happen if employees are physically fatigued, staff should have a salary that means that they do not feel the need to work overtime just to make ends meet.

Warehouse staff should also be given company benefits that directly remedies the strain on their body that their job can cause. This can range from increased access to medical professionals such as physiotherapists or occupational therapists, as well as an increased number of sick days that they are allowed to take.

Make your warehouse roles as easy for temporary staff to fill as possible

Warehouse positions are particularly popular among temporary workers due to the fact that many roles do not require a huge amount of experience. Organisations that hire warehouse staff should take advantage of this fact by running their warehouses in ways that make them as easy to work for on a temporary basis as possible.

Some ways that warehouse managers can do this include:

  • Have dedicated onboarding specialists for temporary recruits so they can hit the ground running.
  • Divide your roles into ones that can be done on a short-term basis and ones that cannot so that temporary workers do not feel overwhelmed
  • Organise your rota so that for every temporary worker on shift there is at least one permanent, experienced worker. This again can prevent overwhelm and reduce the amount of accidents that happen in a warehouse
  • Keep specific lists of temporary workers in your local area that you can reach out to and fill vacancies quickly. You can also use these databases to offer permanent positions to employees who have worked on a temporary basis with you previously.

In short, making your warehouse a place where temporary workers want to work involves both managing your warehouse in certain ways and streamlining the way you communicate with these pools of candidates.

Frame your warehouse job postings in a way that overcomes common objections to the role

Job advertisement copy should be seen as any other type of sales copy in that one of its primary functions should be to overcome objections that candidates may have to applying for the role that you are offering.

The more specific you are in addressing these objections, and the more precisely that you explain how you are remedying these concerns, the better your job posting will “convert” and the more applicants you will get.

Below are some of the most common objections that people have to taking on warehouse operative jobs and some ways that you can directly overcome these in your job post copy.

  • Low pay: State exactly what hourly/annual salary you are offering. Most job postings do not do this so this can be a huge differentiator
  • Poor career prospects: State what schemes you offer to aid career progression and show examples of current employees who have benefitted from these programs in the past.
  • Physically demanding work: Explain what you do to address this problem, be it comprehensive medical care or offering additional days off. Say that you offer this specifically because you appreciate this downside of the job.
  • Anti-social hours: Say what the maximum number of anti-social hours employees are expected to work for. Honesty is the best policy here. If you offer better pay for working anti-social hours than say so specifically.

Where possible, try to solicit feedback from potential candidates as to why they are not interested in a role and try to address these in both the way you manage and compensate warehouse employees and how you advertise roles.


This article was written by Mike Skoropad and may not be copied or published without PeopleGuru’s express written consent. Mike is the Co-owner and General Manager at tire retailers United Tires. He has been working in eCommerce fulfillment for 8 years.



Topics: Recruiting, Staffing

Human Resources Today

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts