Efficient onboarding for temporary warehouse workers

The temporary workforce is on the rise. Roughly 900,000 temporary workers were employed in Germany in 2019. This accounted to 2.3 per cent of all employees. Of them, 27 per cent worked in the transport and logistics industries. Almost 16 million temporary and contract employees are hired throughout the course of a single year in the USA. These staggering figures are increasing across Europe, too.  

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The skills gap, worker shortages and an ever-increasing workload as a result of COVID-19 mean logistics industries are increasingly dependent on temp workers. The 3PL sector is prone to fluctuating demand. So hiring temporary workers is a great way to respond to business cycles. While the advantages of lowering costs and bridging bottlenecks are clear, the true cost of hiring temp workers are often higher than expected. Securing productivity, safety and quality standards amid fluctuating staff isn’t that simple. Maximizing efficiency needs quick yet thorough onboarding measures, structured training and continuous performance support. 

Temp workers solve the problem of getting staff on short notice. It can even lead to hiring qualified, full-time workers. Positives aside, managing temporary staff presents its own challenges. 

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The pros of hiring temp workers

During times of talent shortage and high employment, temp agencies offer a solution for logistics companies needing warehouse workers to match the service-level-agreements of their customers.

The greatest advantage of using temporary workers is their immediate availability. They can help you meet the demands of a heavy period of work rather than risk employee burnout because of dramatic overtime. Temp workers can also come with a specialized skill set for a short term task. 

Temporary employees can also be a great place to start looking for permanent hires. Often they go on to become full time workers after proving themselves to be an invaluable asset to the company. 

Likewise, if you aren’t satisfied with someone’s performance, you can simply end their contract. 

The challenges of using temp workers

The greatest challenge faced by companies who employ temp workers is meeting the demanding volume of onboarding temp workers. 

Temporary workers come from all walks of life including a myriad of cultures and languages. This poses a challenge for training everyone simultaneously.

Temp workers often change jobs to secure better working conditions. High turnover rates mean you’ll be onboarding and training new hires constantly. This takes your seasoned employees away from other duties and can affect overall productivity.

Training and onboarding temp workers is crucial

Despite arriving with a specialized skill set, procedures always vary from workplace to workplace. Temp workers often need time to adapt their skills to a new context. This is even more difficult for temp workers tasked with performing hazardous jobs, such as operating machinery on production sites. 

 

One issue which emerges continually is the safety of the workers.

A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine confirmed that temporary workers average a much higher rate of injury claims than regular employees. This can be due to their unfamiliarity with a workplace environment, but also stress factors such as demanding physical and mental workloads. Sometimes workers simply may not fully understand the work instructions due to missing languages skills. 

The best way to reduce the risk of injuries is through safety training. While this is particularly important for younger and less experienced temporary workers, all temp employees should be thoroughly familiarized with procedures and equipment. Ideally, training should take place before the job starts and continue throughout the contracted work period. In a perfect world, training would be offered in the native language of the workers to ensure everyone understands how to stay safe. 

 

Effective training is also the best way to ramp up worker productivity and lower error rates. By providing proper training, you give workers a real chance at success. 

 

Since a temp worker is, no surprise, “temporary”, the key to onboarding is efficiency. If the worker is merely filling gaps for a limited period of time, it makes no sense to instate a long training process. Rather, consider training purposefully. Bring new hires up to speed and able to start fulfilling their tasks while offering continued training support for the entirety of their work period. 

6 Popular Yet Effective Training Methods for Warehouse Workers 
Team how.fm
Posted by Team how.fm
November 26, 2020

6 Popular Yet Effective Training Methods for Warehouse Workers 

how.fm_blue-collar-training-methods

No matter how much technology enters the factories, blue-collar workers still serve as the backbone of most businesses. Due to factors like seasonal changes and high fluctuation, there is an increasing demand for blue-collar workers across the world. These challenges are particularly present in the logistics industry.

For most warehouse managers, the high production season means they must staff their teams more thoroughly. So, it only makes sense to focus on training to make these jobs more attractive.

Training in the blue-collar world is often an afterthought. Many organizations invest in only minimal training programs or sometimes have no training at all. After all, many manual laborers are “hands-on” workers who make great strides by jumping into a job and learning on their own. While there is nothing wrong with this method, you should use it merely as an addition to your training program.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of training methods that you can use to ensure that your warehouse workforce understands their tasks and performs them safely and effectively. 

An Overview

Methods

Pros

Cons

Recommended for Situations

Performance Support

It integrates learning into the workflow.  

Not time-consuming.

Creates higher productivity. (Source)

This method can only fill gaps, basic knowledge must exist beforehand.

Performance Support does not equate to learning but is more about fast support at the workplace. (Source)

When the basic knowledge already exists and only needs support in the learning process, for example,  precise questions or problems.

Learning on the Job

One of the most effective ways of training employees. 

By seeing how the systems operate in a real-time environment, workers learn applicable skills that are specific to their company. (See Learning on the job

Has a high practical focus. (Source)

Errors must be expected, causing possible disturbances or delays in the workflow.

Long-term training that takes place during work hours. 

Shadowing

A new worker can see the physical aspects of the job and ask questions to gain more understanding.  

(See Shadowing)

It’s time-consuming. 

Workflows can be influenced by the presence of an observer and can differ from the norm. (Source)

Suitable for the start of new workers.

Mentoring

Offer advice and give knowledge about the job and company functions. Can also provide moral and emotional support.

More focused on personal development. (See Mentoring

Covers a wide field of needs.

Success depends very much on sympathy and the relationship between the mentee and mentor.

Does not take place at eye level. (Source)

Suitable for the start of new workers, but also for further development.

Coaching

Provide professional presentations and evaluations; improving performance throughout the department. (See Coaching)

Takes place at eye level. 

Should be based on consent and voluntariness and not be forced. 

Can be expensive. 

More focus on improving an existing routine than on introduction / basics, so it’s recommended for experienced employees or if there is a clear goal. (Source)

Classroom Teaching

It can be useful to take some time away and simply learn about the job in a classroom of peers.

To-the-point sessions. (See Classroom Teaching)

Not the favorite method for warehouse workers.

This can be particularly beneficial for topics where it is not advisable to allow "practical" demonstrations, e.g. safety training.

Read More
The Impact of a High Employee Turnover Rate in Logistics
Team how.fm
Posted by Team how.fm
November 15, 2020

The Impact of a High Employee Turnover Rate in Logistics

Fifty-six percent of workers in blue-collar industries are at risk of quitting.  With the national unemployment rate at ~3.7%, the lowest in the last...

Read More

Current training methods

There are many existing training methods for onboarding temp workers. Onboarding should include a full orientation of the company policies as well as your expectations of the employee. 

Distributing training materials is a great way to introduce new employees to their work environment. Training materials need to be fully updated and prepared in advance to ensure the best learning experience. Employees should receive initial information regarding their daily work procedures before they begin. Training materials should not only offer general knowledge but also careful instruction on how to approach the different procedures they will face. This sets up the worker for success. 

Using digital solutions eliminates the possibility that you will have various, outdated versions of your training materials. Plus, it makes it much easier to update the content.

Group training might be an efficient use of training time, if you have a heterogenous group of workers. Health and safety training can often take place in a group setting. Plus, it offers workers a chance to build relationships with one another and feel more incorporated into the company. 

Shadowing is another way new hires can benefit from the experience of regular employees. Temps learn best practices by following seasoned employees through the daily routine and seeing how they approach the work. Temp workers learn their job and gain the confidence to perform their tasks by imitating their experienced colleagues. 

To take it one step further, consider assigning a mentor. Experienced employees are assigned to temporary workers to offer support in daily activities, respond to arising questions and give advice on completing tasks. Mentoring is one aspect of training on-the-job as mentors help temp workers gain confidence in their ability to complete tasks and greatly lower error rates.

The downsides of traditional training methods

Even though these methods help to train and onboard temporary or seasonal workers, there are some downsides, especially concerning cost-efficiency and speed. 

While training materials offer relevant information, they do not offer real-time support and feedback. They also fail to provide shift training off-the-job. The days of watching training videos on a tiny television in a stuffy office should be a thing of that past.

Group training is great if you’re dealing with a heterogeneous group. However, temporary workers often don’t speak the same language.

Shadowing and mentoring are costly and often slow down other employees. Many experts believe that overall company productivity decreases with temp workers because of the time spent on training the new hires. As the time of seasoned employees is limited, these approaches are not really scalable nor efficient.

So what is the perfect approach?

Training should empower new and temporary workers to learn the job quickly. The best approach to training and onboarding temp workers is one you can implement efficiently in order to ensure productive performance. 

It is critical that any training materials, but most importantly health and safety instructions, are available in a wide array of languages to meet the needs of our globalized workforce. Work instructions have to be carefully documented and continually updated to ensure high standards.

Combining off and on-the-job training is the basis for success. Learning on the job is the best training method when partnered with instant and ongoing performance support. Combined they reinforce training concepts  and allow new hires to perform with confidence.

Train temp workers digitally

Based on expert opinions across blue-collar industries, going digital with your onboarding and training programs is the perfect solution. 

By turning your company procedures into digital instructions, you are empowering temp workers to learn at their own speed. Furthermore, you can offer training in several languages. 

Digital instructions combine audio with visuals into entertaining content more likely to hold their attention than print-outs or an outdated VHS video. 

Plus, a digital coaching method like how.fm, is fully scalable and offers 24/7 performance support for workers. Since it works on mobile devices like tablets or smartphones, workers feel fully equipped and can access information both off- and on-the-job. 

By speeding up onboarding and making training materials always accessible, workers can review procedures whenever they need.  It gives them the confidence to start fulfilling tasks much faster and continue learning while they work.

To conclude, companies need to really invest in training and onboarding temp workers. Otherwise, they face low productivity and issues with quality and safety in the workplace. 

Training methods need to be scalable in order to be cost-efficient and give continuous support to guarantee training success. Digital coaching and work instructions offer precise advantages by providing full-time availability and easy-to-use training. 

While this solution has clear benefits for temporary workers, it likewise positively impacts new and regular employees. 

Discover the secrets of efficient warehouse worker onboarding

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