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Successful training programs are the starting point for efficient, effective, high-volume, streamlined warehouse processes. With highly trained workers, there are fewer instances of waste, fewer errors, and a more confident, productive staff. Well-trained employees also lead to a more positive work environment and less turnover.
To facilitate a success warehouse training program, many companies turn to partnerships with 3PLs such as Redwood Logistics. By doing so, they are able to harness the power of established networks and software solutions such as RedwoodInsight, RedwoodConnect 2.0, or a fully optimized WMS platform.
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A solid training program that will produce these kinds of results should also include a few other key items, however...
Technology is only as effective as the people using it, and tech systems are vital in warehouse function. It’s important to make certain warehouse and distribution center employees are familiar with their company’s warehouse management system and other assorted warehouse systems. If not, they won’t be able to utilize those systems for the best results.
Company leaders should invest in comprehensive training to assure that all employees are familiar and comfortable with all of the technology associated with their job functions. Many training systems utilize a variety of creative solutions such as gamification and rewards systems to incentivize employee learning, making it feel like less of a task.
It is also important to ensure the efficacy of existing training modules and course materials by running pilot programs and soliciting feedback from all staff involved in the training programs.
When teaching new processes to existing staff or bringing on new employees, classroom training, among other methods, is often a component of the process. Integrated learning, utilizing a variety of methods, is the most comprehensive and allows staff to retain the most information. In a classroom setting, providing visual training aids such as location barcodes for practice scanning in, helps to teach muscle memory skills needed for performing.
While “hands-on” training is often the clearest way to demonstrate specific tasks and activities necessary to warehouse function, there are few ways to do so without using the production systems and potentially affecting live operations. This issue is solved, however, by utilizing a permanent mock warehouse with a training environment on a separate server. Though the investment in something like this, and the maintenance as well, may create costs upfront, a hand-on training environment has incredible value as a training resource.
Each process should be added as a workable scenario into the training environment to assure employees have access to all the most up-to-date process expectations.
Using the most innovative technology, brilliant software training programs, and hands-on learning is fantastic, but another key component in successful training is the human element. While onboarding new warehouse staff, it’s important for them to have resources that they feel comfortable going to with questions and concerns, and someone on the floor they feel they can trust to give them the right answers or point them in the right direction.
It’s important to invest the time in training and certifying the best candidates so that you can deputize these workers to assist in the process of training. After using classroom learning and tech, shadowing a certified trainer is an excellent way for new warehouse staff to see processes in action, best practices for handling any hiccups that may arise, and generally setting a positive example of expectations.
When preparing personnel for the implementation of new systems, or onboarding new staff, there is a tendency to include the entire training curriculum rather than limited sessions related to their specific functional area. Even with well-run training programs, delivering too much information to the workforce in a concentrated period is a risk. Overwhelming new hires with too much information can create learning fatigue or affect retention of critical information.
When staff members are given so much information, much of it irrelevant to their position, that they cannot completely understand what they’re being taught, it can lead to disaster on the floor.
This is avoided when staff is trained for a specific functional activity and not for the full spectrum of work that goes on in the warehouse. It’s more effective to focus training on specific functional activities and allow the staff to become good at their particular function. Later, if needed, the learning process on additional activities for staff flexibility or promotion can be incorporated. These additional learning opportunities can come after the demonstration of ability and efficacy when operations have achieved stability, and associates understand how to do their jobs more effectively.
In order for any training or implementation project to be successful, it’s imperative to have clearly defined measurements of what that success looks like. Members of the warehouse team should have understandable and measurable goals, and communication between warehouse management staff and associates should be open and consistent with conveying where they are in relation to those measurements.
Managers can use metrics to define performance goals, and share that information with their staff so that all are aware of what they need to work toward. Putting specific measures in place and providing employees with consistent feedback is a clear way to increase productivity and eliminate supply chain inefficiencies. Feedback and positive reinforcement are critical to the success of any training, and clear and measurable goals are the starting point for providing such feedback.
If these five items are included when building your warehouse training program, it’s bound to be more successful. Successful implementation of training processes, clearly defined goals, regular feedback, consistent expectations, and including all levels of staff in the process leads to a more engaged and invested workforce as well.
Most importantly, it is wise to begin creating and implementing a warehouse training program with the assistance and guidance of a reputable 3PL like Redwood Logistics.
Contact us today to get started.