How to use culture as a recruiting tool for your warehouse

In a tight labor market like today’s, many businesses simply increase their pay to attract workers. But while offering competitive wages is a must, it’s rarely enough on its own.

With such a high demand for labor and a low supply of workers, warehouse staff can get much more selective in their job search. As a result, businesses must pull every lever they can to stand out from the crowd. One of the most frequently overlooked levers? Organizational and workplace culture.

Warehouses paying $15+ an hour are now becoming a dime a dozen, but warehouses that go the extra mile to create a great work environment are much rarer — especially considering the churn-and-burn reputations of major players in the industry. So if you show that you care about providing a great experience for staff, you’re bound to stand out from competitors. To help you get started, we’ve put together a few tips to bolster and promote your own warehouse culture.

1. Create a compelling welcome message

When workers come in for the first time — whether they’ll work as full-time employees or just pick up the odd shift to reduce the strain on your warehouse — send a welcome message before they arrive. Of course, you’ll want to include the basics, like:

  • Logistical information (e.g. where to park or what entrance to use)
  • Suggestions for what to wear or bring
  • A list of items you will provide 
  • The name of the person they will meet
  • A phone number to call in an emergency
  • Some information about the company or products 

Tip: Include this information in the description of any Instawork shift you book.

It’s also worth reminding staff that you’re excited to have them on the team. Working in a new environment can be stressful, but a few well-crafted words can go a long way — even better if it’s signed by the warehouse manager or other key leaders.

If you want to take this a step further, try what Jessica Carrera, Director of HR at Port Logistics, does: Have your CEO (or another executive) record a short video. Port Logistics filmed a 5-minute welcome message from the CEO, which they send to new hires before they start. This is a great way to not only show appreciation, but also highlight how critical they are to the team.

2. Emphasize workplace safety

Warehouse work can be risky in itself, but with the COVID-19 pandemic on top of that, some staffers’ anxiety might be compounded. Making health and safety a high priority, however, can help alleviate these concerns.

This might include providing a safety orientation to the warehouse in general and the equipment used, starting all shifts and meetings with a safety moment, posting adequate signage around the warehouse, ensuring proper lighting and ventilation, and providing personal protective equipment for use in the warehouse.

If you book a shift on Instawork, consider mentioning the measures you take to protect your team in the health and safety measures section. We’ve found that employers who include these details benefit from higher job fill rates as well as better ratings — making any future shifts you post all the more appealing to Instawork Pros.

3. Implement a mentor or buddy program  

A mentor or buddy can help new hires learn the ropes and feel like part of the team faster. Mike Skoropad, Owner and General Manager of United Tires, has seen positive results from a mentorship program in his warehouse.

“For me, a great company culture is one where colleagues genuinely look to help develop each other's careers,” Skoropad said.

In his program, new recruits paired up with a mentor who works in a management role. This exposes new employees to different sides of the business immediately, and ensures that everyone is pulling in the same direction. 

Mike and his team highlight this mentoring system in job postings and interviews, explaining how it can help them speed up their career progression (if that’s what they’re interested in).

4. Say “thank you” & invite people back 

It might be a small gesture, but thanking workers for their hard work when they clock out can make a big difference. When employees feel appreciated and valued, they’re often motivated to keep working for you.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. A survey conducted by employee engagement platform Reward Gateway revealed that 75% of U.S. employees agreed that motivation and company morale would improve if managers simply thanked workers in real-time for a job well done.

Even if an employee is only signed up for one shift in your warehouse, thanking them at the end (and maybe even leaving a tip if they did an outstanding job) is still a good practice. Keep in mind, they may have the opportunity to work for you again at some point, or they could tell their friends and colleagues about their experience working with you.

Word of mouth is a powerful recruiting tool, so make sure to use it to your advantage.

5. Provide creative incentives

In a roundtable with Instawork, Thomas Wales, General Manager at subscription book service Literati, shared that he believes some of the best rewards are non-monetary. For instance, he often rewards the fastest packer over a certain period with DJ privileges, allowing them to choose the music they play on the warehouse floor for an hour. He’s also provided lunches for his team.

“People like to see leaders working for them and working for their good,” Wales said. 

To that end, he also supports members of his team looking for professional development and learning opportunities. These can range from reading and discussing a book on management and leadership to getting a Lean Six-Sigma certification. These opportunities help members of his team level up not only at Literati, but anywhere else they may work in the future. 

You can even go so far as to outline a formal promotion track for employees. Consider listing out all of the different levels and roles available at your warehouse, making sure to include information on what each position is responsible for, how to reach the next level, and how long that might take.

6. Solicit & act on feedback

It’s important to regularly check in with employees on what’s going well and what could be going better. This could be as simple as asking them how things went as they clock out, or as involved as taking regular satisfaction surveys. If you’ve booked a shift through Instawork, you can also review feedback from Instawork Pros after they finish the job.

You may identify entire areas you need to revamp or invest in, like training or performance reviews, or learn of more tactical things, like a light being out in part of the warehouse or some signage needing to be replaced or made bigger.

Make sure that the members of your team providing good feedback feel heard. Acknowledge their feedback, even if you can’t act on it immediately. If employees feel like they are giving feedback and nothing is changing, they will stop providing it — and that’s the last thing you want when trying to build and promote a great work culture. 

It’s easy to feel like conditions are out of your hands during a tight labor market. But just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Focus on building your culture, and you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success.