happy people in a warehouse

Happiness in the Workplace: How to Keep Employees Engaged and Safe ?

In today's fast-paced world, the logistics sector is experiencing unprecedented growth and innovation, which is being fueled by technological advancements and evolving customer demands. Yet
the author of the article by Robert McQuaig
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In today's fast-paced world, the logistics sector is experiencing unprecedented growth and innovation, which is being fueled by technological advancements and evolving customer demands. Yet this rapid transformation creates mounting pressures on employees, both in terms of meeting heightened expectations and ensuring their own well-being. As logistics professionals struggle to keep performing at the highest level, maintaining motivation, happiness, and physical safety becomes paramount. In this blog article, we will explore the key practical strategies and insights that employers can utilize to help logistics professionals flourish.

 

Radical transformation driven by technology and growing customer demands

Over the past two decades, the logistics industry has undergone a radical transformation, reshaping the way goods are transported, managed, and delivered. Besides new customer and employee standards, new technologies and automation have revolutionized the logistics landscape. From advanced warehouse management systems and robotics, to route optimization software and GPS tracking, companies have embraced these innovations to meet the increasing demands for speed, accuracy, and reliability.

Yet this has inevitably put a strain on logistics workers. In response, several key measures are being increasingly put into place to ensure workplace happiness and safety:

  • Safety takes center stage, with strict protocols and training programs aimed at preventing accidents and injuries.
  • Ergonomics is also a top priority, considering factors such as proper lifting techniques, adjustable workstations, and equipment that reduces strain on the body.
  • To maintain workplace safety and prevent wear-and-tear on joints and muscles, companies prioritize training and awareness on taking regular breaks, stretching exercises, and employee education on maintaining good posture and body mechanics.
  • Investing in automation and new workplace technologies play a crucial role in minimizing physical strain.
  • Furthermore, job rotations can also be implemented to prevent monotony and ensure employees remain engaged and motivated.
  • Companies are also increasingly using gamification techniques to make work more enjoyable and create a sense of friendly competition among employees.

 

Safety always comes first

As logistics employers and managers, the safety of our team members must be our number one concern. Protecting them from potential hazards — ranging from bodily injuries and improper use of equipment, to the progressive wear-and-tear of joints caused by repeated motions or improper techniques — is essential. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to implement comprehensive programs, tools, and trainings that minimize the occurrence of accidents and injuries.

A fundamental aspect of ensuring safety is fostering a culture where employees look out for each other. Encouraging a sense of collective responsibility and accountability creates an environment where everyone actively participates in maintaining a safe workspace. This has the benefit of creating a shared sense of values or purpose, which in turn acts as a strong catalyst for team spirit.

Additionally, embedding safety into your leadership strategy plays a vital role in establishing a work culture that prioritizes safety as a core value. By leading by example and consistently reinforcing safety practices, managers set the tone for the entire organization. For example, take the "Near-miss" program implemented across GEODIS warehouses, which encourages employees to report any potential hazards or improper techniques that could put themselves or their colleagues at risk. By actively involving employees in identifying and addressing safety concerns, a culture of open communication, continuous improvement, and proactive risk mitigation is fostered.

 

Train for innovation

Effective training also plays a pivotal role in ensuring performance, productivity, and safety within our warehouse operations. When teammates are equipped with a clear understanding of their roles and the proper techniques to perform their tasks, it leads to increased throughput, heightened productivity, and enhanced safety measures. Training not only provides the necessary skills and knowledge, but also helps break up the monotony of day-to-day work by introducing new concepts, techniques, and approaches. This, in turn, fosters job satisfaction, wellbeing and gratitude.

Furthermore, training programs contribute to the accumulation of valuable institutional knowledge at our sites. As experienced employees share their expertise and experiences with newly arriving personnel, the site benefits from a wealth of collective wisdom. This transfer of knowledge ensures that expertise remains on-site for longer periods, creating a strong foundation for innovation and collaboration.

 

Make the workplace safer through proper ergonomics

By providing access to ergonomic solutions, we can significantly reduce fatigue, strain, and discomfort while promoting optimal performance. For instance, offering foam mats for employees to stand on instead of concrete floors can alleviate the impact on joints and reduce fatigue caused by prolonged standing. Similarly, ensuring that workstations are at the optimal height minimizes the risk of musculoskeletal issues and enhances overall comfort.

By designing the workplace with flexibility in mind, we can create an environment that accommodates the unique requirements of each teammate, enhancing their comfort and well-being while contributing to their overall job satisfaction and work-life balance.

 

Reframe automation as an opportunity instead of a threat

The integration of automation technologies in warehouses is another essential pillar of the wellbeing of modern-day logistics professionals. For example, conveyors or carousels that move inventory from point A to point B reduce physical strain and minimize repetitive tasks, thereby alleviating the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Additionally, the implementation of automation streamlines processes, leading to improved productivity and operational efficiency.

One of the notable advantages of automation is its ability to simplify tasks, thereby alleviating the cognitive load and stress faced by teams and individuals. An example of this is system automation, which uses software, machine learning, robotics and data analytics to automate tasks and procedures. By offloading mundane and repetitive activities to automated systems, employees can focus on more critical and complex aspects of their jobs, which leads to more engagement, creativity, and skill utilization.

 

Embrace state-of-the-art technologies

The emergence of new technologies presents a unique opportunity to both stimulate employees and embrace the latest safety trends in the workplace.

Take the wearable tech revolution, for instance. Nowadays wearable RF devices with finger scanners can enhance efficiency and accuracy in tasks such as inventory management and order picking. Similarly, smart glasses powered by augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI), offer real-time information and guidance, improving decision-making and enhancing productivity.

Additionally, exoskeletons provide additional support and reinforcement, ensuring appropriate body movements and techniques while reducing physical strain and minimizing the risk of injuries. And in high innovation tasks, technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) can revolutionize the way systemic, repeatable tasks are performed.

Moreover, the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in training programs can transform the learning experience. These technologies expose employees to different scenarios in a simulated environment, making training more engaging, interactive, and enjoyable. This approach not only minimizes the risk associated with real-life training but also enhances knowledge retention and skill acquisition.

 

Don’t leave out job rotations

Job rotations play a crucial role in ensuring employee satisfaction, motivation, and growth within the workplace. Firstly, job rotations allow employees to learn new aspects of the warehouse operations, fostering a deeper understanding of the business and promoting a more balanced workload for leadership.

Secondly, job rotations contribute to the professional growth and development of employees, as they acquire diverse skills and knowledge through exposure to different roles. This variety breaks up repetitive tasks, encourages personal and skill growth, and keeps employees engaged. For example, an employee initially involved in packaging and labeling ("pack out") may be rotated into picking or put-away duties, expanding their skill set and broadening their understanding of the warehouse processes. Job rotations not only enhance employee satisfaction but also contribute to a more versatile and adaptable workforce.

 

Don’t underestimate the power of gamification

Last but not least, incorporating gamification in the logistics warehouse workplace transforms work into engaging games with goals, rewards, and incentives. Just like your AppleWatch tracks your biometric health data and gives you points or badges for reaching ten thousand steps per day, logistics managers can cleverly utilize gamification to motivate their teams to meet certain challenges.

For instance, a target can be set to ship a certain amount of orders within a given day, and incentives or rewards can be provided for reaching or surpassing that goal. This creates a reward structure that adds an element of excitement, encourages teamwork, and motivates employees to perform at their best.

Another example is when sections or shifts within the warehouse compete against each other or predefined targets to achieve rewards. For instance, the first shift could compete with the second shift, or the outbound dock could compete with the inbound dock. Additionally, challenges could be based on exceeding production volume targets or meeting and surpassing service level agreements (SLAs) consistently over a specific time period.

Overall, by making the environment more enjoyable and interactive, gamification boosts morale, increases productivity, and fosters a sense of teamwork.

 

Conclusion

At GEODIS, we follow all the above recommendations, even going beyond them, to ensure that our work environment remains safe, fun, stimulating and efficient. From embracing new technologies, such as exoskeletons, VR and AR, to promoting ergonomics and the highest workplace safety standards, we want only the best for our employees. This has the added benefit of reducing turnover rates and increasing the cumulative knowledge and expertise across our facilities.

For our customers, this translates to efficient and consistent handling and processing for your orders, meeting your demands, exceeding our SLAs, and fewer disruptions. Not unimportantly, we are also able to save costs and reflect these savings in our prices towards our customers.

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