The workers in your warehouse and distribution centers are vital to your business. They fulfill orders, pack, and label containers, oversee the transport and delivery of products, process returned goods, and more. To a large degree, their performance helps determine your brand’s perception in the marketplace as well as your company’s reputation and profitability.

With so much on the line, it follows that companies would do everything to ensure that their facilities operate at peak efficiency. Unfortunately, many do not. Through no fault of their own, companies must deal with a bewildering array of challenges, costs, and risks.

With big money and the future on the line, every decision carries significant risk or reward. To make cost-efficient adjustments and stay competitive, companies need solutions that can be put in place quickly and easily—but where do you begin? Following are five best practices that virtually any warehouse can adopt to improve its performance.

Best Practice #1: Build a Proactive Human Resources Department

Make sure that your human resources team not only looks for competent workers, but that they can effectively sell and communicate the advantages of employment. Besides offering workers a competitive salary and benefits, the HR department should provide extensive employee training and emphasize that warehouse positions are not merely jobs. You are creating a career path for them.

Best Practice #2: Set Up a Performance Management System

Rewarding warehouse employees with an incentive for outstanding performance can have a huge impact on their productivity and commitment. For example, we have offered a profit-sharing incentive if warehouse employees meet or exceed goals, such as cost savings for our client. We presented that to a potential client, and it was well received. There is a split or sharing of those cost savings that we pass on to the employees themselves.

Best Practice #3: Optimize the Warehouse Process

Optimizing the product flow through a facility is a major goal of any distribution operation. That starts with identifying areas of wasted movement, processes or space and developing areas of lean improvement. At Canon, we use the expertise of our subject matter experts to look at the end game of what the facility is trying to do. We focus on where they want to be and start breaking down the movements of the product throughout the facility to slash wasted labor hours and create process-driven, productivity-driven warehouse environments.

Best Practice #4: Conduct a Facility Assessment

Assessing a facility can identify procedures that work well, uncover both obvious and hidden mistakes, and identify areas for improvement. An easy way to start is by doing a walkthrough of the facility to get a general feel and layout of the operation. Talking to warehouse workers, both formally and informally, about their activities and actively soliciting their feedback can provide a wealth of valuable insights. This can help you assemble some key performance indicators (KPIs) with measurable data to guide your assessment.

Best Practice #5: Foster a Safety Culture

It is easy to be complacent about safety, but companies do that at their own peril. Warehouses should make consistent, repeated efforts to create and reinforce a safety culture and mindset every day—or risk catastrophic costs. To begin, perform a safety assessment of your warehouse. Look for potential hazards and highlight safe practices. Then come up with safety guidelines that are enforced regularly.

Ready to Start?

Now is a great time to get started on putting these best practices to work. Canon’s skilled team can help free internal resources from the demanding task of managing staff, allowing you to better focus on your core business. That way, you will be better prepared to thrive in the days ahead.

Ready to Advance Your Business?