9 Foolproof Methods For Training Your Warehouse Temporary Staff

Training warehouse temporary staff is an important prerogative for warehouses – and, a key to retaining them. 35% of warehouses experience seasonal surges that require 20% more workers. 8% of warehouses have surges over 100% (Forbes). During peak seasons, these warehouses may have more temporary workers at times than permanent ones.

The better you train your seasonal workers, and the longer you keep them, the more smoothly your warehouse will run. Here are 9 foolproof techniques for training and retaining warehouse temporary staff. We also include a step-by-step checklist that will help you keep your warehouse temporary staff longer and improve their performance.

Why Is Training and Retaining Warehouse Temporary Staff in a Warehouse Important?

It can be tempting to under-emphasize training for warehouse temporary workers. After all, temporary workers may only be with your warehouse for a couple of months or even only days. Why invest valuable resources into training a temporary worker? In fact, it’s extremely important that you train temporary workers properly.

Training Can Turn Temporary Workers Into Permanent Staff

When you implement a great training program, you may find that temporary workers are less likely to remain temporary. Temporary workers who get good training from the beginning are more likely to stay for the long term. Some temporary workers may become seasonal workers, coming back regularly during the peak seasons when you need them most.

Good training shows that you care about workers for however long they stay. Workers who feel invested are more likely to be loyal to your company as well.

Training Is Necessary To Prevent Injuries

Good warehouse managers don’t want any of their workers to be injured on the floor, including temporary workers. However, you have not only a moral imperative to keep workers safe but a financial incentive as well.

According to OSHA, a serious injury like a crushing injury can cost as much as $140,700. A less serious injury like a sprain can cost over $64,000.

A temporary worker can be expensive if they’re injured on the job because of insufficient safety training. A warehouse that makes a habit of ignoring safety training may suffer serious financial ramifications.

Get the Job Done Right From the Beginning

Temporary workers may pick up what they need to know with the help of managers and co-workers. However, they’ll make significantly fewer mistakes if they’re trained well from the beginning.

Workers who speak a different language from supervisors and peers may have an especially hard time. It’s important that they have training in their own language, at their own pace, from the second they clock in.

As an added benefit, you may find that managers and existing workers do their jobs better when training and retaining warehouse temporary staff is a priority. Their jobs will be easier when they don’t have to constantly answer questions from temporary workers.

9 Ways To Master Training and Retaining Warehouse Temporary Staff

1. How Do I Set up a Warehouse Training Program That Focuses on Temporary Workers?

Are temporary workers important to your warehouse? You need a training program that focuses on their needs. You can’t expect to build a successful temp force if you don’t consider temp workers in your warehouse training program.

Your training program applies to two kinds of workers: temporary and permanent. You need to train your permanent workers on how to interact appropriately with your temp force. Teach workers when they are responsible for helping and answering questions and when they should direct temporary staff to managers.

It’s good to encourage your permanent workers to keep an eye on temporary staff and report any problems promptly. However, you must also make sure that these duties aren’t interfering with their work.

The solution is to create a training program for temporary staff which allows them to proceed at their own pace. By letting them access training as they need it, you can prevent overload and confusion.

This kind of training program reduces strain on your permanent staff and managers. It simultaneously makes it much easier for temporary staff to succeed.

2. How Do I Onboard Temporary Employees?

When you first bring on your temporary workers, you have the opportunity to set them up for success. It’s much easier to learn new information than unlearn the wrong way of doing things. You’ll find it worthwhile to train your employees to avoid any bad habits from the start.

Teach Them How To Ask For Help

When you first onboard your temporary employees, start out by putting avenues in place for them to ask for help. Make sure that they completely understand where they can go for the kind of assistance they need at any time.

Put fail-safes in place. If the temporary worker can’t get a problem resolved by one manager, they should know who else to talk to. It’s much better for a temporary employee who’s not sure how to do something correctly or who has made a mistake to ask for help than try to figure it out on their own.

Don’t Teach More Than They Need To Know

You may want your temporary warehouse employees to become full-time. However, you don’t necessarily want to train them like they’re going to be full-time.

Too much training can be overwhelming for workers who don’t intend to stay with your company for long. If you swamp your workers with unnecessary details, they are less likely to retain the information they need to know.

Show Don’t Tell

When you demonstrate tasks to your workers, your workers will learn better. This is especially true when it comes to physical skills like those involved in warehouse work. Rather than doing most of your training in a meeting space, send workers out on the floor.

warehouse worker training using how.fm
Using how.fm’s training couch, workers learn at their own pace.

Provide workers with training from how.fm that lets them learn as they go. Workers can learn at their own pace as they encounter challenges with the aid of just a smartphone.

3. How Do You Train a Warehouse Worker for Temporary Work?

When onboarding is over, training should continue. In fact, temporary workers should keep training for as long as they’re with your warehouse. The more training a warehouse worker gets, the more likely they’ll be to continue to advance with your warehouse instead of moving on. You may not need all of the temporary workers you have on a permanent basis.

However, good training can help you to determine which ones are good enough to be worth offering full-time work. Workers can consult the digital training delivered through how.fm as they need to and progress at their own pace. You may be amazed by how quickly your temporary workers blend in with your full-time warehouse crew once they can take control of their own training.

4. How Long Does It Take To Train a Warehouse Worker for Temporary Work?

If you only have a worker for a couple of days, you don’t want to spend a day on training. On the other hand, making training cursory or skipping it entirely can result in serious issues in your warehouse. The best solution is to train workers on the job with digital training software like how.fm.

Offer a brief onboarding as discussed here, make sure employees know what to do if they need help, and then let them take control of their own training. Reduce your in-person briefing time to minutes or hours without overlooking any of the important training you need to cover.

5. How Can You Help an Employee With a Language Barrier?

Language barriers are a huge challenge for temporary workers in warehouses worldwide. Temporary workers are often migrant workers or recent immigrants. In a single warehouse, you may have workers speaking dozens of different languages.

Needless to say, this can result in some challenges when it comes to training. The traditional style of training in which new hires are gathered into a group and lectured won’t be very effective with this kind of language diversity. In-person training from managers or current employees won’t be particularly effective either if there are language barriers.

training workers in over 30 languages
how.fm app showing training possibilities in 30+ languages

Using how.fm, you can create a training program that each employee can access in their own language to overcome language-related barriers.

6. How Do You Engage Employees in a Warehouse?

You may not want all of your temporary hires permanently, but you probably want them until the end of the peak season. Ideally, the temporary hires with the most to contribute to your company would be incentivized to stay longer.

To keep temporary hires for as long as possible, engage them. One of the best ways to keep employees engaged is to give them opportunities for advancement. However, it can be hard to recognize opportunities to offer advancement to temporary workers, especially before they become demotivated.

A great solution is to offer incremental training so employees can keep taking on new challenges as they master their current work. Is a worker a whiz at picking and packing? Perhaps they’d be interested in taking on forklift operation training. Does a temporary warehouse worker show a knack for leadership? Give them the opportunity to complete management training.

Giving employees paths to greater responsibility is the best way to keep them engaged.

7. How Do You Manage Temporary Employees?

Managing temporary employees is often more challenging than managing longer-term employees. Managers who work with lots of temporary employees at a high turnover warehouse can feel like they’re constantly onboarding.

Add to this the language barriers that are all too common in temporary employee-manager relationships, and you have a real challenge on your hands. Excellent training is a good way to prevent problems before they start.

Anticipate common issues, mistakes, and incorrect ways of doing things. Train employees to avoid them before they even have a chance to make them. Reduce the dependency that temporary workers have on permanent staff and managers to reduce disagreements.

Even if there’s a language barrier to surpass, managers should make an effort to ask about the lives and expectations of temporary employees. Knowing that managers can make a big difference in the experiences that temporary workers have.

8. How Can I Make a Warehouse Job Easier for Temp Workers?

Warehouse work is physically and mentally demanding. Temporary workers often have additional challenges like unstable housing, separation from friends and family, or dependents traveling with them. By making a few small changes that likely won’t have much effect on warehouse productivity, you can make it much easier for temporary workers in your warehouse:

  • Flexible scheduling: Workers trying to fit their jobs around family and other responsibilities benefit hugely from scheduling that lets them work irregular or inconsistent hours.
  • Varied Work: Warehouse work tends to be repetitive, as well as physically demanding. This makes repetitive motion injuries more likely and can cause workers to burn out. Where possible, vary the work to make it more interesting and easier on the body.
  • Find where they fit: Instead of thinking about temporary workers as being hired for a specific job, think about them as employees of the warehouse in general. Offer training for various areas to see where they work best.

9. How Do I Keep My Warehouse Staff Motivated?

Do you sometimes feel like your entire warehouse staff is a temp force? With turnover for warehouse workers at over 40%, it’s clear that keeping warehouse staff can be a challenge. High turnover can be expected in this industry, but very brief average employment time may indicate an issue with morale.

The same techniques that create a motivating environment for the majority of your warehouse staff are also very beneficial to temp employees. Try a few of the following to motivate all of your staff, temporary and permanent:

  • Instead of looking for outside hires for higher positions, do all that you can to promote from within.
  • Offer training for next-level positions to all of your staff so that they have the opportunity to pursue their own advancement.
  • Create easy-to-understand metrics for good performance and provide bonuses and raises where appropriate.
  • Ask employees about their work experience, listen to the answers, and incorporate what you learn into protocols and training programs.

What Is the OSHA Temporary Worker Initiative?

This initiative ensures the health and safety of temporary workers when they’re employed under both a staffing agency and a host employer. The same Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the OSH Act) protects temporary workers as it protects all permanent warehouse workers.

However, when temp agencies supply workers to warehouses, implementation of this act poses new challenges that this initiative attempts to address.

What Other Benefits Can I Offer My Temp Staff?

Warehouse managers are often too quick to think about only the bottom line when it comes to temp staff. Try getting creative when it comes to the company culture at your warehouse. 

Create a rideshare program, make it easy for workers to trade shifts or cover each other’s vacations, or offer discounts at a daycare for workers with children. Talk to your temp staff to see what they need and look for ways to make them want to keep working for you.

Am I Supposed To Provide Safety Training to My Temp Staff?

You may be reading this list and thinking that training your temporary staff is just too much trouble when there is so much turnover. However, they are serious legal ramifications for not providing temporary workers with safety training. This is particularly true if something goes wrong and a worker is injured.

OSHA holds warehouses responsible for the safety of their temporary workers, in combination with temp agencies. Failing to provide appropriate warehouse-specific training for the jobs your temporary workers do can result in liability for your warehouse.

Furthermore, safety training sets your temp staff up for success in operating safely at your warehouse. Even if they’ll only be there for a short period, it’s still important to offer solid safety training for your temporary staff. Keep in mind that when training with how.fm, you don’t have to devote a lot of in-person training time to your temp force.

Template: Make Training and Retaining Warehouse Temporary Staff a Breeze With This Template

Do you want to keep temporary staff longer and enable them to perform better in your warehouse? A great training program from the very beginning can make a huge difference in your experience with temporary workers at your warehouse. 

Download this template to make sure that nothing is overlooked as you implement training for temporary staff into your training protocols.