How to Increase Engagement and Efficiency in the Warehouse? Game On!

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

Last week I had the pleasure of talking to Pieter Van den Broecke, the Managing Director of Manhattan Associates for the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany in the run up to Exchange Connect, the company’s first ever entirely digital European event. From cloud-native technology, to employee well-being during the pandemic, to gamification in the warehouse, here are some of the most interesting points that came out of our conversation.

One of the main issues for logistics companies (indeed organisations in general) today is finding good people and then retaining them. Especially when it comes to warehouse workers, there is much more demand than supply meaning that warehouse employees can easily switch jobs if the money or working environment is better elsewhere.

Engage the Workforce

So if money is not a big differentiator (after all, any other company can always offer more money), what is it that keeps employees engaged and makes them want to stay? Company culture of course… if employees are proud of what they do, they are often more proactive and work harder because they believe in what they do and for whom they do it. So the big question is: how do you engage your workforce?

Game On!

A new approach that Manhattan Associates is bringing to the table is gamification. People inherently like games and they love a challenge. Good examples of this are apps like Strava or Runkeeper that motivate people to work out, using feedback on performance, challenges and leaderboards. Apps like Duolingo do the same for education. Using points, badges, and leaderboards people are motivated to follow more lessons and learn a new language faster – gamification in the warehouse works similarly.

Rules of the Game

For a game to be fair, you need to set rules that level the playing field for everyone. Gamifying the warehouse starts with setting out and communicating these rules. Measuring the performance of the players (the employees) needs to be fair and objective and measurable. 

Fair metrics need to be created to be able to compare people and teams. For example, it’s easier to move a pallet with 100 units, then to move 100 single item picks of that same unit – you see my point.

Another important rule is that teams, departments or zones are compared instead of people. People shouldn’t be pitted against each other personally. Data collected from individual workers should be used to motivate people in the same way that Strava motivates athletes. 

An employee could get a badge for certain achievements, like improving their number of picks per hour, or a streak of days without picking errors. This way of complimenting and encouraging people is motivating and will make them feel appreciated. You could also let them earn points and then trade those points for a gift card or even time off. This way good behaviour and high-quality performance are rewarded, instead of a focus on punishing poor performance. Such a positive culture leads to positive, happy, and engaged people. People that want to stay!

Having engaged, happy and proud employees also makes recruiting a lot easier. Engaged employees will talk with pride and passion about their jobs. Others will hear this and want to work in your warehouse too.

Good job!

Research has shown that people find their job fulfilling if their work is acknowledged. That is why positive feedback works so well. Next to the possibility of earning points and badges, improving personal records, and knowing their place on the leaderboard, employees can even receive messages on their devices from supervisors. A perfect way for supervisors to express gratitude and make team members feel acknowledged and valued.

Efficiency and Zero Training

Warehouse workers are used to intuitive apps with good graphical user interfaces and a smooth user experience from their smartphones. Why should devices used in the warehouse be any different? An easy to use interface that is intuitive and that guides you smoothly through every step of the process will increase the efficiency of warehouse workers and also reduce stress. 

Manhattan Associates has designed its latest cloud-native Active Warehouse Management interfaces with just that in mind. The work flows and user interfaces of handhelds and other devices are so intuitive that new employees can start with zero training.

For logistics companies with peak volumes that rely on temps for busy periods this is a huge win. No time lost with days of training, people can start immediately, make fewer errors and increase warehouse productivity from day one.

For more information on gamification in the warehouse and increasing the efficiency and productivity of your workforce, check out the Manhattan Associates website or sign up for Manhattan Exchange which will be on October 5 & 6 – I’ll be there, will you?

Photo credit: Anurag Sharma from Pexels

This Post is Sponsored by Manhattan Associates

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