7 Ways to Upskill and Reskill Your Warehouse Workforce

In its Future of Jobs Report 2020, the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, humans and machines will be working an equal amount of time on current tasks. This change is largely due to the lockdowns and economic decline brought about by the pandemic. Also, the adoption of technology by companies is an important factor as it allows for greater automation.

Disruption and redundancy brought upon by increased automation will negatively impact the human workforce. But your organization can minimize the displacement by addressing existing gaps in skills. Reskilling and upskilling your employees are critical to ensure your warehouse staff remains efficient and productive.

Workforce development programs require an investment of both money and time. While it may prevent you from implementing them, simply ignoring it will put your long-term business goals at risk. Conversely, upskill-reskill efforts ensure that you stay competitive in the industry 4.0 era.

This is especially true for enterprises that rely heavily on warehousing and logistics. Digital upskilling of workers may not always mean that you need high-end technology. Innovative digital training software like how.fm, allows you to train your workers by simply using tablets. The good news about digital upskilling is, that it also empowers them to make real-time and educated decisions on the shop floor. In the long run, the increased efficiency and productivity will positively impact your bottom line.

What Are Employee Upskilling and Reskilling?

The terms may sound the same, but they are two very different solutions to the challenge of stagnating workforce capabilities.

Briefly, Upskilling means teaching your workers new skills to perform their jobs better, while Reskilling is training them on new skills for a different job. Both are powerful strategies to counter skills shortages.

Upskilling your people with continuing education on new or advanced skills will provide a deeper understanding of their contribution to the whole organization. It encourages them to carve a solid career path while staying in the same job. In turn, you increase employee retention and decrease turnover.

On the other hand, Reskilling allows lateral transfers of employees within the company. It involves earning a certification online or in a trade school, and maybe even a new degree at university. Tapping your existing human resources with related skills helps shorten your hiring process when new positions open and is also a great way of motivating your workforce and promoting loyalty.

See Also: 5 Tips to Attract and Integrate New Warehouse Workers

Upskilling and Reskilling the Workforce in Logistics and Warehousing

With technology ushering in the fourth industrial revolution, your logistics and warehousing must be prepared for increased automation. Digital upskilling and reskilling of your workers will equip them with the necessary tools to successfully adapt to the transition.

There are 7 ways to upskill and reskill your warehouse staff:

1. Safety Upgrade

Automation translates to additional machinery. More machines mean a higher potential for injury in your workforce and liability for your organization. Thus, safety training must automatically be a part of new machinery orientation. This involves everyone in the logistics and warehouse environment, from the pickers and packers to the chiefs and heads of divisions. And to maintain excellent business ethics, no new machine should be operated without safety training.

Download: Digital Health and Safety Whitepaper for Warehouses

2. Operational Upskilling

Manufacturers of warehouse equipment usually offer training on the operation, maintenance, and repair of their machinery. Some may be conducted in-house, while others are done at the premises of the providers. This is a great opportunity to upskill part-time and full-time mechanics and technicians; necessary if you want your warehouse to run like a well-oiled machine.

A how.fm course introducing warehouse workers to picking and packing.

3. Project Management

Streamlining operations is a critical aspect of logistics and warehousing to ensure men and machines work together in synergy. Your current Team Leaders on the warehouse floor are already qualified to manage people and are experts in their LOBs. They are ripe for project management training that will empower them to integrate technology into their people and operations management skills.

Also See: Lean Warehousing to Stay Competitive in the Industry 4.0 Era

4. Specialized Compliance Analysis

Your company’s warehouse and logistics compliance teams need to upgrade their skills to keep pace with impending warehouse automation. Digitized logistics and advanced machinery present a different set of potential threats to manual workers. This requires expertise in operations compliance according to evolving technology and labor laws. As you expand tech applications across systems,  team members in quality assurance may be reskilled for Compliance Analyst roles.

5. Solutions Design Specialization

Your current logistics coordinator, warehouse clerk, and shipping and receiving clerk are your future Solutions Design Specialists. The job role comprises the management of end-to-end administrative processes between your organization and your clients. These include collection, account receivables, credit, and disputes. Solutions design requires upskilling to a capability of integrating warehouse processes with other departments in the company, such as finance, procurement, and client and dispute services. Your current account executives may also be reskilled for the position.

6. Cybersecurity

Protecting your organization’s supply chain data should be the topmost priority. One of the downsides of warehouse and logistics automation is that almost every link in the workflow is connected to the internet. This makes your sensitive and proprietary information vulnerable to cyberattacks. Therefore, regular upskill training on cybersecurity must be conducted for all employees. Special courses are likewise needed for workers engaged in repetitive manual labor, such as order selectors, warehouse pickers, inventory counters, sorters, scanners, and material handlers. They must be able to recognize red flags while undertaking routine monotonous tasks.

7. Warehouse Systems Management (WSM)

Upskill your current warehouse and logistics supervisors and associates with WSM certifications so that they can quickly adapt to your company’s digital systems upgrade. This training will enable them to smoothly run your warehouse and troubleshoot tech issues that may obstruct the workflow. The knowledge they obtain from the course will also be helpful in the communication system within your logistics.

Benefits of Upskilling for Employees

Technological changes demand adaptability. Regularly upskilling warehouse workers not only improves their skills but also trains them to embrace change. These takeaways ensure their staying power in your company.

Upskill training is also an opportunity for employees to explore their dormant strengths and abilities. It may be a healthy venue for discovering talent that is ripe for reskilling to other roles waiting to be filled.

Digital upskilling, in particular, leads to a more productive workforce. And workers who accomplish more tend to feel a higher degree of satisfaction.

For younger employees, upskilling is equivalent to career development. It prepares them to tackle bigger challenges that accompany a higher position. In fact, a whopping 91% of millennials think that career progression through upskilling is the best benefit a company can give them.

Why are Companies Like Amazon Upskilling Warehouse Workers?

The Amazon $700 million training is a strategy of the retail giant to “ensure that our employees can make meaningful career changes into more technical roles, whether at Amazon or elsewhere, through training and career support.”

Aimed at upskilling and reskilling about one-third of its US workforce by 2025, the training schemes will be available to Amazon employees in their corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers (FCs), retail stores, and transportation networks. Thus, FC workers with IT knowledge may be reskilled to be support technicians, for example.

But long before Amazon took this huge leap, Walmart had already created the Walmart Academy in 2016 to help new and existing in-store associates with career growth. It provides upskilling that offers a clear path to advancement. The result was an astounding 215,000 employees promoted in 2018, including an Overnight Stocker who became a Support Manager after graduation from the academy.

Other giants in the Logistics sector, like Mahindra and Flipkart, are already upskilling both blue-collar and grey-collar workers to meet their demand for more skilled employees. This move is in response to their shift towards automation and digitization.

For most CEOs, to upskill or not to upskill is no longer the question, according to the 2020 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Annual Global CEO Survey. They are now becoming aware of the rewards, such as “a stronger corporate culture, greater innovation, and higher workforce productivity.”

Bar graph showing how employees feel about receiving upskilling or reskilling training.

Final Thoughts

Current trends in warehousing and logistics predict that by 2023, 22% of all retail transactions will be done online. Your organization must adjust to this change in consumer behavior. Upskilling your current and future workforce will insure their jobs, provide them with better career paths, and ensure your business growth.

Digital training for your employees will prepare your company for inevitably increasing fulfillment demands. With training solutions like how.fm, you can empower your warehouse workers by delivering easy-to-understand training in their native language.

*15 mins and no commitment

Download the Warehouse Operations Management ebook here.