490: Addressing Warehousing Labor Challenges with Inviscid Consulting

In episode 490 of The New Warehouse Podcast, Steve Hopper, founder and principal of Inviscid Consulting, joins the show to discuss the ever-pressing topic of labor. With decades of experience in the industry, Hopper brings a wealth of knowledge in optimizing warehousing, distribution, and logistics operations. Inviscid Consulting specializes in streamlining processes to reduce costs and enhance service levels. In this episode, Hopper delves into the persistent labor challenges in the warehousing sector, the nuances between labor performance and productivity, and innovative approaches to addressing workforce shortages without solely relying on increased staffing.

Navigating Labor Challenges in Warehousing

Labor shortages have been a longstanding issue in the warehousing industry, exacerbated by recent events like the pandemic and an aging workforce. Hopper explains that many view warehousing work as unappealing due to its physical demands and repetitive nature. This negative perception, evolving worker qualifications, and language barriers create a perfect storm for labor shortages. Despite these challenges, Hopper emphasizes, “You can’t just throw bodies at the problem. You must look at alternatives to get more out of your existing workforce.”

Enhancing Productivity Through Strategic Measures

Hopper discusses the critical distinction between productivity and performance in warehousing operations. Productivity is a raw metric of output divided by input, such as units per hour. Performance, however, encompasses a broader range of factors, including the pace of work, the methods used, and the overall utilization of time.

“Many businesses overlook simple yet effective strategies to improve productivity,” Hopper says. He suggests that instead of immediately turning to automation, companies should focus on optimizing their current resources. Implementing best practices, improving worker training, and ensuring effective use of time can significantly enhance performance. Hopper uses a vivid analogy: “Think of Michael Jordan. His performance was a combination of pace, method, and utilization. It’s the same with your workforce.”

Addressing Labor Shortages without Increasing Headcount

Inviscid Consulting helps businesses tackle labor shortages by optimizing existing processes and resources. Hopper explains that many companies fail to manage and measure their workforce actively, leading to inefficiencies and high turnover. “Many are just throwing people into the warehouse and hoping for the best,” he observes.

By conducting thorough operational assessments, Inviscid Consulting identifies areas for improvement. Hopper stresses the importance of setting realistic goals, managing workforce engagement, and fostering a positive work environment. He highlights innovative solutions like gamification and flexible working hours to attract and retain younger workers.

Key Takeaways

  • Addressing labor shortages requires more than just hiring more workers.
  • Productivity and performance are distinct metrics; improving both involves optimizing pace, methods, and utilization.
  • Implementing best practices and active workforce management can significantly enhance productivity.
  • Innovative approaches, such as gamification and flexible working hours, can help attract and retain workers.

Listen to the episode and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Guest Information

For more information on Inviscid Consulting, visit their website or connect with Steve Hopper on LinkedIn.

For more information about warehouse labor challenges, check out the podcasts below. 

447: Warehouse Labor Management with Takt

473: Warehouse Staffing: A Deep Dive with Traba’s Read Egger

Unlocking the Secrets of Labor Market in the Warehousing Industry: Insights from Kim Vidrine of Employbridge

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© The New Warehouse. All rights reserved.
© The New Warehouse.
All rights reserved.