One of the most vital parts of a high-functioning and efficient supply chain is the warehouse. In fact, the warehouse is the heart of most large-scale logistics operations.
Without well-trained warehouse employees, delays can happen or orders may end up being fulfilled incorrectly. Therefore, it is important that all warehouse staff is trained effectively in the variety of skills needed for their positions and that all proper protocols are being followed with both safety and operational effectiveness in mind.
To achieve this, there must be some sort of warehouse training program in place.
Training is an important investment, as it keeps employees engaged, keeps expectations clear and measurable, assures employees are more likely to perform to standards and lessens turnover.
Below, we have rounded up our top 4 essential tips for creating and implementing a functional and effective warehouse training program.
Need help implementing any of these tips? Contact our team of logistics management professionals for a free consultation.
Assess Your Warehouse’s Training Needs
Before designing a training program that suits the needs of your warehouse, you will need to assess the most important required skills for your employees to do their jobs effectively.
Identify the most crucial skills, then assess and understand the competency levels of the current warehouse staff. Once you have an idea of the current skill levels and needs of your employees, you can then decide what the competency goals are for each required skill set, and analyze where there is a gap in proficiency between current and desired levels.
Doing this allows you to prioritize training in the areas where the difference between desired levels and current levels is widest. Seek feedback throughout this analysis from both staff and relevant management to see if there are other areas of particular concern that can be addressed through training.
Determine Which Method of Training Will Fit Your Needs Most Effectively
A thorough evaluation of the business needs and operations of your company is important before selecting a method of training that will be the best fit. Different needs will require different approaches. Some businesses decide that they will outsource training and use an external training company to both design and implement their training programs, and there are a variety of businesses that specialize in such programs.
If you have decided to create your own training program, you will need to certify trainers from within your company and decide whether you will utilize online training materials, software-based training programs, classroom learning, or a hands-on method.
With internal training programs, you will also need to decide whether to design all the appropriate training materials and software/ online programs or whether you will contract a third-party specialist to do so for you. Depending on your needs, you may even decide on a mixture of methods, utilizing both in-class and online learning, and some prefabricated training modules, in addition, to personally designed ones.
Run Pilot Programs and Have a Clearly Delineated Schedule for Implementation
As you develop your training program, be sure that you are testing each program or course with a good cross-section of employees, including those at various skill levels and both trainers and trainees. Include employees from a variety of teams, especially if the training program will be used for multiple various positions within the company.
Also, it is wise to ensure that you are gathering and using feedback from both the trainers and trainees so that you can adjust and refine the program’s content, materials, and delivery methods to be the most effective.
Once the pilot programs have helped you to put together the finished product, be sure to plan out the training courses and workshops in such a way that allows all relevant employees to receive effective training without short-staffing the warehouse and creating operations issues as this would obviously be counter-intuitive. This may require rolling training, depending on the size of your warehouse staff.
As you implement the programs, continue to gather feedback and further refine the training programs as needed.
Check for Learning Application and Effectiveness
After completing your training, you will need to assess whether the training program you have created is effective. The simplest way to measure this is to decide on an acceptable period of time post-training to observe and then evaluate performance and look for areas of improvement.
To determine the effectiveness, you will need answers to the following questions:
Has the training proven useful?
Are employees able to apply their knowledge as intended?
Has there been a measurable improvement in employee effectiveness?
The final step or component of an effective training program is the creation and implementation of an action plan complete with goals and measurements. This allows for tracking of the effectiveness of training, provides employees with clear expectations, and allows for identification of areas where training may need to be revisited. If after an acceptable amount of time you notice that several employees are still struggling, adjustments may need to be made.
Remember that for training to benefit your warehouse operations and employees, it may take a few adjustments to get right. However, if you utilize these four tips and refine your program throughout its creation, you're likely to get the results you’re looking for, and have a well-trained, engaged, and invested workforce on your warehouse floor.