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Top Challenges When Managing Warehouse Labor

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Warehouse Challenges - Managing Labor - Woman in a warehouse
Steve Thompson
Steve Thompson
June 11, 2021

Overcoming the top challenges when managing warehouse labor will be the key for storage facilities to survive within supply chains. Many manufacturers are in the process of reassessing their supply chains with a focus on moving toward more automated processes. Digital transformation is underway as warehouses invest in IoT devices for improving real-time inventory tracking. Here are fundamental challenges warehouse managers will face in the future regarding labor and productivity.

1. Maintaining Accurate Inventory‍

Warehouse worker checking inventory

One of the top challenges when managing warehouse labor is keeping inventory accurate and orderly. Thanks to RFID technology and IoT devices, it's possible to monitor every inventory item accurately in real-time. Traditionally, the picking process has been where the most inventory errors originated. Investing in a software platform that connects with every product through RFID communication gives a warehouse operation an edge over competitors who fail to adopt the technology.

It's common for initial inventory counts to be flawed in the picking process due to their hurried nature. Aside from time factors, improper inventory might also result from a lack of sufficient employee training.

2. Optimizing Warehouse Space And Layout‍

In order for inventory to be as efficient as possible, warehouse space must be utilized appropriately based on layout. When stock is set up in a way that's easy to understand for pickers, it can reduce slowdowns and speed up the shipping process. The key to efficient use of space is not so much how much space is available but appropriate optimization of space to prevent the use of unnecessary labor. Layout considerations should be based on the frequency of patterns for moving certain items.

3. Replacing Redundant Tasks With Automation‍

Artificial Intelligence inside the warehouse

Automation is one of the most critical technologies for a warehouse to invest in because it speeds up processes. Machine learning is beneficial for integrating with automation because it can draw from a wealth of data to precisely track down items. Combining these technologies is a key to tracking down missing or misplaced items quickly. Today using AI in warehouse automation is essential for any large operation.

The best reason to use automation software is to handle redundant tasks that can be done more efficiently. Labor issues arise when workers feel sleepy or tired of the repetition, which can slow down productivity. An automated solution can get more work done more accurately at a faster pace. Many companies are concerned automation will replace workers and don't want to be known for contributing to job loss. The solution is to utilize workers more for analytical skills while relying on automation to get routine tasks done more efficiently.

Automation has been used in warehouses for decades, such as robots that move items to physical locations. Keeping up with advancing automated technologies such as autonomous vehicles equipped with cameras will be both challenging and a superior strategy for business survival.

4. Meeting Labor Costs‍

Keeping labor costs under control is one of the most critical factors in the success of a warehousing operation. Labor costs can account for as much as 65 percent of operational expenses for warehousing. It's common for a warehouse to employ a large workforce of managers, administrative personnel, pickers, and cleaners who oversee expensive equipment. Due to this nature, it's imperative to hire trustworthy employees who don't steal and are competent at locating items properly.

The pandemic led to many workers getting laid off or quitting because they got tired of their jobs. One of the rising issues in the near future will be how employers can rebuild staffing in an era when workers are demanding higher wages. When evaluating labor costs, it's crucial to keep in mind that sudden cost-cutting can lead to workplace disruption and fear of further tightening. This situation may cause workers to look for other opportunities. Too much turnover can lead to inefficiencies, such as increased spending on training.

Maximizing labor can be achieved by using automation where it's most needed and making the workplace enjoyable for a team atmosphere. Offering flexible hours and incentives are keys to attracting and maintaining an appropriate workforce. Motivating workers to be productive can be accomplished by nurturing a team spirit and acknowledging each individual's contribution to the team.

5. Improving Quality Control‍

Worker doing quality control on products

It's common for the quality control department of a warehouse to consist of regular picking and packing personnel. That's fine if they are well-trained and understand inventory management and how supply chains work. Promoting general warehouse workers to quality control positions is a step toward improving employee loyalty. Making individuals responsible for inventory accuracy is vital for nurturing future managers devoted to learning about the company as much as possible and protecting its reputation.

Combined with automation, seasoned quality control managers can improve a firm's accountability and stock rotation. Once the quality control department is refined with the right personnel and automation, warehouse management becomes simplified and predictably reliable.


Focusing on the top challenges when managing warehouse labor has growing importance in the logistics industry. Warehousing will become more competitive in the future due to the need to improve customer satisfaction with timely deliveries. For a warehouse to be most productive, it must be well-organized with well-trained and motivated workers. Learn more from custom pallet manufacturers about making your warehouse more efficient and positioned for future success.