4 ways to turn warehouse data into a more efficient seasonal workforce

4 tips for leveraging your peak season, black Friday, and cyber Monday warehouse data to run a more efficient seasonal workforce.

With Peak Season ‘23 underway, the hunt for seasonal employees is in full swing across sectors like retail, grocery, and consumer goods.

Warehousing teams annually enlist an astounding number of seasonal workers to match customer demand — a crucial element keeping these industries operational. However, scaling your workforce so rapidly challenges operational teams to balance quality and cost while delivering on customer service level agreements (SLAs).

Thankfully, data from warehouse management systems (WMS) or labor management systems (LMS) can often be the answer to scaling your workforce while maintaining quality and cost-per-unit (CPU) targets. By leveraging performance data, 3PL, retail, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) teams can seamlessly integrate seasonal staff into their labor pool. Here are four strategic areas where performance data can have the most significant impact on seasonal performance:

1. Integrate Documentation & Coaching into Onboarding Processes

Documentation serves as the backbone of a smooth onboarding process. Ensuring that department standard operating procedures (SOPs), safety protocols, and unit-per-hour (UPH) expectations are well-documented and easily accessible to employees is not just a legal necessity in some states—it’s a key to setting clear expectations. This proactive step streamlines onboarding, making it a scalable, repeatable process for the seasonal workforce.

2. Provide Proactive Feedback Using Performance Data

Providing employees with feedback is key to eliminating unsafe or undesirable habits and ramping employee performance faster. Unfortunately during peak season, supervisors can't be everywhere at once, which means they get far less face-to-face time with new hires. Access to performance data can significantly reduce the burden on operations leads – by letting them know the top-5 and bottom-5 performers on each shift, they can then provide more targeted coaching, aiding those who may not proactively seek support and share best practices from top performers across the team.

3. Optimize Resource Planning to Minimize Travel Time

Warehouses can overwhelm newcomers. Limiting their initial focus to specific tasks or departments reduces movement, curbing excessive travel time. Here, advanced analytics and forecasting models are instrumental, particularly for more accurate resource planning. These models factor in skill sets, predicted volume, and labor allocation, ensuring optimal task assignment and minimal labor sharing.

4. Utilize Data for Motivation & Incentivization

Most organizations have incentive structures for full-time employees but often overlook seasonal staff. By introducing metrics and targets for seasonal employees—such as units shipped or performance benchmarks—motivation skyrockets, driving higher performance. Additionally, this proactive approach decreases early attrition rates post-training and increases the likelihood of converting high-performing seasonal workers to full-time positions.

Leveraging Data: The Key to a Robust Seasonal Workforce

In a landscape where seasonal employment can be the make-or-break factor in achieving corporate revenue and profitability goals, it just makes sense to utilize data to support your warehouse teams.

By leveraging performance analytics across these four key areas, operations teams can quickly onboard, train, and maximize the efficiency of their seasonal workforce. Beyond optimizing peak operations, this approach also increases the likelihood of retaining high-performing seasonal staff as invaluable full-time employees.

As you prepare for the upcoming retail peak, consider these data-driven strategies to not only enhance the productivity of your seasonal workforce but to potentially cultivate a pool of future full-time talent within your organization.

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