How do you deal with staff shortages?

20 October, 2021
BMaarten de Bakker from CaptureTech
Maarten de Bakker
Marketing Manager
Warehouse worker voice picking beer in a distribution center
20 October, 2021
Maarten de Bakker
Marketing Manager

‘Tight logistics labor market now bigger than ever,’ headlined a few months ago. Figures from Randstand showed that the number of open jobs in transportation & logistics increased by a whopping 61 percent from last year. There is a labor shortage of 5,700 warehouse or logistics workers. Last week it was even announced that in Brabantia’s DC at Pelt, CEO Tijn van Elderen himself is joining in on the shop floor. Although one might wonder if we are dealing with a publicity stunt here.

Why is there a staff shortage?

The causes are well known. Historically low unemployment, large numbers of job openings in a variety of sectors and the growth of e-commerce are creating fierce competition for staff. Especially now that the uncertainty surrounding the corona seems to be easing, measures have been relaxed and the economy is picking up. For example, logistics companies are now competing again with employers in the hospitality, aviation and events industries. How do you deal with this acute staff shortage?

Keep the back door closed

It sounds obvious, but many employers struggle with keeping employees permanently committed to the organization. Attracting and inducting new staff takes a lot of time and money, so then retaining them is perhaps even more important. It is therefore a good idea to first take a critical look at reasons for turnover and the work atmosphere and to structurally measure and improve employee satisfaction.

Satisfied and engaged staff is loyal and proud. According to Effectory, engagement provides no less than:

  • 18% better performance
  • 16% more productive employees
  • 15% fewer sick days

With engagement, you not only keep the back door closed but your current staff becomes an important means of attracting new people. Finally, they are your signboard. Therefore, enable them to actively participate in the recruitment process through incentives such as a referral bonus, for example. Although truly engaged employees will not need an incentive. Give employees the tools and incentives to promote the organization as a great place to work.

Deploy personnel and resources efficiently

How do you then ensure that your engaged and motivated workforce is used as efficiently as possible? Of course, planning is essential here. But also consider providing the resources that staff need to work efficiently and ergonomically. For example, at flower and plant wholesaler W.K.Heyl, productivity has increased by 50% since implementing Voice Picking. With this technique, each order picker has a voice terminal and headset with microphone. They receive spoken instructions naturally and confirm commands verbally in real time.


Voice picking at flower wholesaler W.K.Heyl


Wearable devices can also allow more work to be done with fewer people. By having your hands free during different actions and by scanning faster, because you don’t keep picking up a handheld and putting it away.


Pick orders faster with the ProGlove MARK Display wearable scanner


On top of that, such techniques increase employee satisfaction simply because it is nicer to work with. Implementation presents another opportunity to encourage employee engagement by including them in the process, always communicating the status of project steps, and asking and listening for feedback. Finally, the key to the success of IT implementations often lies in user adoption. Employees who are included in the organization’s developments feel involved and will feel the need to develop themselves.

An improvement in efficiency is also achieved by ensuring that mobile devices used by staff are always working. Through solutions such as CaptureTech Protect, terminals’ software is always up-to-date and the WiFI network is managed remotely.

Faster onboarding

It won’t solve your staffing shortage right away, but induction of new employees still takes a lot of time at many organizations. Often even the best workers are used to induct the new warehouse workers. This is a waste and unnecessary. Using an onboarding method such as Honeywell Rapidstart greatly speeds up onboarding by allowing the employee to work completely independently.

In addition, learning to work independently in the warehouse is also much more enjoyable for the new employee. They feel more comfortable and confident, which will make them more positive about work, resulting in lower turnover. In any case, should there be or remain a lot of turnover due to other circumstances, at least the induction has not cost you a lot of lost time and you quickly and easily reinstate replacements.

With a digitized onboarding system, you also measure the suitability of the new employee much better and faster. On your dashboard, you can see the progress the new employee is making, take immediate action and ultimately make an informed decision about whether or not to retain the employee. With this measurability, we have also arrived at my next point.

To measure is to know

Are all your logistics processes really running optimally? Much is invested in automation and other process optimizations, but if not measured properly or too little, there can be invisible bottlenecks in the picking process, for example. Collecting relevant and detailed information in real time during the picking process reveals these bottlenecks. Small changes to the process on the floor can yield attractive efficiencies. For example, by moving a label printer to a different location that shortens your walking route. Or by identifying and solving problems in individual order pickers. CaptureTech Insight is a proven tool for this.

A complete package

It is always a combination of factors that creates productivity improvements and increased employee satisfaction. But how do you know which techniques, software and hardware are the best fit for your organization? Through a thorough analysis of your logistics processes and future plans of your organization. Because every organization, every industry and every business process is different.

How do you solve your staffing shortage?

With a quick scan or DC Walkthrough, our specialists perform analyses of business processes and our clients receive almost immediate guidance for efficiency improvements. Always tailored to daily practice in the warehouse or DC. Wondering what such an analysis can give you? Fill out the contact form and we’ll get back to you.

bass jansen
Bas Jansen

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