How Employing and Training Older Workers Can Be Your Solution to Talent Shortage


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How Warehouse Managers Can Solve the Talent Shortage

A generation change is causing a troubling talent shortage throughout the logistics industry. This is making it harder for many warehouse employers to meet their staffing needs. Global studies have estimated that demand for supply chain professionals currently exceeds supply by a ratio of 6:1, or even 9:1 in some cases. Hiring mature workers is one solution to this problem that has often been overlooked because of unfounded fears that older workers are not up to the task. However, the benefits of hiring older workers to fill warehouse positions are worth considering. 

Generation Shift in Logistics

The pool of candidates to hire is shrinking because many people in the blue-collar workforce are now headed towards retirement. At the same time, due to decreasing birth rates, we are facing a smaller young generation. Studies predict that it will shrink by no less than 7% by 2050. Simply put, there are more old than young workers in the job market.

Furthermore, young people now enter the labor market later and many choose higher education over a career in one of the blue-collar industries. They may decide against manual work like a warehouse position. Either because of a negative stigma or because they think that a college degree can lead to jobs with higher wages.

The Benefits of Employing Mature Workers

Do not be discouraged by the competitive labor market for young workers. There are still many workers from the older generation who are continuing to work due to pension reforms.

Although many employers might jump to the conclusion that mature employees have a negative impact on a warehouse’s performance, this is a mistake. The precious experience, knowledge, and skills older workers bring to a job, combined with their strong work ethic, outweigh concerns about absences or physical weakness. This is especially true since an increasing amount of the most physically demanding tasks are being automated. As long as the baby boomer generation is on the job market, warehouse managers should take advantage of the skills and insight they have to offer. 

Employing and Training Older Workers

Older workers have different needs and considerations than their younger counterparts that you should keep in mind when working to attract and successfully train them. Although studies show there are fewer accidents among older workers thanks to their on-the-job experience, they also face a greater risk of longer lasting injuries resulting from lifting heavy items or working in odd postures and they might require a longer recovery period if injured. Good training and ensuring all workers follow the proper health and safety protocols in the warehouse are extra important for this reason. 

Older workers often have decades of experience and training already when they begin working for you. Surveys show that these workers might need more convincing about the value of additional training than their younger, less-experienced colleagues who are only just starting out in the industry. Although they will likely change their minds after seeing how useful additional, ongoing training is for their warehouse knowledge and skills, you should take steps to ensure the more experienced workers are not trained exactly like an inexperienced worker. 

By separating your trainees into smaller groups based on their experience level and specific tasks (e.g. digital tools, activities), the training will be more efficient. You can ensure you get the best return on your investment in worker training sessions by enabling your trainers to create materials and methods that fit each group’s unique needs.   

Training Older Workers to Use Digital Tools

Warehouse managers and trainers have to remember that older employees grew up without computers and smart devices. They might never have been in touch with them in their work environment at all. However, that does not mean you will have to cut out all computer-based technologies from your approved methods from training younger employees. 

It is important for you to give your mature workers enough time to get used to technical devices. Be sure to give thorough explanations and routinely offer appointments for individual questions after demonstrations. This will not only save time during the training, but it will also help your older workers feel more comfortable discussing challenges they might be having that they are not comfortable addressing publically. 

Older workers may frequently use smart devices in their every-day lives, such as WhatsApp or Facebook. Use their personal experience to show them the advantages of the software used in the warehouse. They will be more open to a new program if they see that it has something in common with the apps they already know. This will also encourage mature workers to be more open to future technologies, since you have already proven they can learn to use new digital tools for their work.

When designing your training sessions, keep in mind that older generations might prefer a touchscreen over a mouse. You can also make the learning experience even more realistic and intuitive by using voice-operated training solutions.

Key Takeaways

With the demand for warehouse workers exceeding the supply of available young workers, you will likely need to rely on hiring older workers to maintain your warehouse workforce. Attract and keep older workers on your warehouse team with these useful tips: 

Help Older Employees Get Used to New Technologies

  • In the digital age, warehouse jobs are more high tech than ever before. Do not neglect to train older employees on digital tools.
  • Use voice-operated training solutions. Touch-screens and other convenience features to make the learning period shorter and more enjoyable for less tech-savvy workers.

Customize Your Expectations According to Workers’ Abilities

  • Don’t push (any of) your workers to cross their physical limits.
  • Allow your older staff to access different working hours, shorter shifts, longer breaks, lower expected piece rate, etc.
  • Take health and safety training seriously.

Show Your Appreciation for Your Warehouse Staff

  • Offer fair salaries and working conditions.
  • Motivate your team to learn by clearly explaining how training leads to job security in your warehouse.