Fleet Management & Forklift Safety Blog

How to Retain the Warehouse Talent That You Have

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Nov 21, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Across all supply chain industries there is a labor shortage underway, and warehouse and distributions centers are no exception. While finding new, well-trained staff to keep up with escalating demands can seem impossible, retaining your current staff isn’t. You just need to understand what motivates them to stay. team-1028829_640

Here's two easy ways to boost employee retention:

1. Praise and recognition.

It sounds too simple, but really, most people thrive on praise. Being recognized for excellence does more than just improve employee morale. It makes employees feel they are valued and that what they contribute matters to management. They suddenly have a vested interest in results. Showing your appreciation creates an environment of respect and gives employees a sense of ownership and belonging within their company. 

When employees feel they matter, that they are appreciated and respected, the result will be more productive and motivated workers who are more likely to remain longer with the company and increased retention of top performers.   

2. Make them a part of a team – not just another employee

It doesn’t require a lot of time to make an employee feel valued and a part of an important group effort. For example, you can easily track an operator’s performance and productivity and communicate this kind of support if you have telematic information at your fingertips.

Here are few other ways to build a team mindset in your warehouse

  • Consider each employee's ideas as valuable. Nobody knows the challenges and issues slowing down productivity better than those who are on the floor doing the work every day. Ask for opinions and suggestions.
  • Set clear team goals and communicate why they matter. If workers know why something needs to change or improve, they develop a vested interest to the results.
  • Provide team and individual recognition for a job well done. Recognition doesn’t have to be large – the point is to receive praise and to feel that someone noticed their efforts.
  • Recognize safety and maintenance improvements. Safety is just as important as productivity. Telematic “operator report cards” provide a complete view of an operator's compliance with safety standards, checklist completion and overall performance on the warehouse floor.
  • Share team results based on goals. Telematic platforms provide monitoring that easily tracks labor and any benchmark results. For example, vehicle and warehouse activity are linked through TotalTrax SX/VX software to deliver a direct correlation between job performance and productivity.

One of the greatest challenges managers encounter today continues to be how to attract, develop, and retain top-performing forklift operators and warehousing talent. Retention is crucial and creating an employee recognition program can be key to motivating workers to perform better, but it also is instrumental in retaining high-quality staff. Your telematic software should make monitoring and recognizing your staff simple to do.

 

Topics: labor management, employee recognition, reward programs, team incentives, operator report card, telematic data, forklift operators

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Simple Steps That Will Boost Your Team & Warehouse Productivity

Posted by Brian Quigley, Director of Client Services on May 30, 2019 6:18:03 AM

You may be leading a warehouse team, but are they following your lead? Achieving productivity goals is not a one-man job. It usually requires a solid group effort and a creative, organized approach to team management. team-1028829_640

First, it’s important for managers to recognize that not everyone has the same level of dedication and commitment to achieving KPI goals. Achieving goals may excite you, but some members of your team may not understand the value.

Unfortunately, it only takes a few individuals doing the bare minimum to affect the entire operation. But there are a few simple steps to take that will boost your team’s effort, and that means vastly improving productivity.

Step 1: Everyone needs to know what needs to change and why.

Give meaning to the team’s goals. Most employees feel a greater connection to the outcome of their work if they fully understand why the goal is important and valuable.

Share goal objectives and explain how their hard work will make it possible. Results can be easier to achieve when everyone understands the challenges, the importance of the goals, and how they each can play a role in the achievement process.

Step 2: Everyone should understand how their performance directly impacts results.

Take time to explain what tasks they individually need to improve on and why. Use customizable telematic reports to show where change is needed and why. Armed with concrete facts about shortcomings, everyone can contribute personal insight, experience, and knowledge to help craft a course of action. 

Step 3: Create a weekly strategy and game plan for your team.

Tackle tasks one week at a time. Some workers find it easier to focus on the task at hand rather than have the entire game plan stretched out before them.

Focus on steps everyone can take each week to improve, and, suddenly, that hard-to-reach goal is not as daunting. Weekly goals will seem more obtainable, and recognition for improvement each week can boost morale and build momentum toward the final objective.

Also, track individual driver performance and productivity with operator report cards, and provide balanced weekly feedback that includes both praise and areas in need of improvement.

Employees should ideally take ownership of KPI goals and be willing to make necessary changes that cultivate improvement. But, a true leader should also find ways to cultivate a team mindset and get everyone working together to achieve those goals.

Knowing how to truly lead a team, even when short on time and patience, is critical to achieving improvement goals. Telematics software facilitates KPI transparency, identifying what is going well — and what is not — helping you to create weekly action plans that can quickly boost your team’s productivity.

Topics: labor management, benchmarking, driver behavior and productivity, operator training, forklift drivers, proactive warehouse management, teamwork, employee recognition, operator behavior, reward programs, forklift operators

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Warehouse Communication — The Power of “Why”

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Mar 19, 2019 4:00:00 AM

Assuming that workers in your facility adhere to all safety practices may not be wise. In a fast-paced warehouse or distribution center, safety can be compromised if warehouse communication falls short. Just because you have protocols in place doesn’t mean workers fully understand it — or follow it.  rule-breaker-1892968_640

For example, your warehouse probably has signs that warn about pedestrian traffic, speed of forklift travel, and intersection danger. But does every driver always heed the warnings? Even skilled forklift operators may ignore safety communications if they lack urgency or if they don’t fully understand the importance.

Therefore, the risk of injuries and impacts increases exponentially when warehouse communication doesn’t fully explain, in a way everyone can understand, what is expected and why there is urgency to comply.

The need to understand the “why” behind warnings and rules

Communication is vital to warehouse safety. Psychological studies have shown that employees respond to warnings and safety protocols with greater diligence when they understand the reasons behind them. People want to know why.

Why explain “why”?

  • Workers will understand safety concerns, protocol, or rules better.
  • They'll consider it more important to follow rules.
  • They'll be more likely to comply.

What’s hurting your warehouse communications?

There are probably a few common issues that are hurting communication in your facility.

Here are a few to consider:

Language barriers

Many businesses have employees for whom English is a second language, and communications can be misinterpreted.

Operators need reminders, checklists, and best practices reinforced in a language they fully understand. While it’s possible to translate all literature for employees facing a language barrier, a large void in safety  still exists if telematic checklists aren’t accessible in other languages. Communication in a language that everyone can understand is key.

Poor understanding of expectations

Overseeing the safety of operators on the warehouse floor requires knowing when reckless behavior is occurring and effectively communicating these issues quickly.

Telematic operator report cards provide a complete view of an operator's compliance with safety standards, checklist completion, and overall performance on the warehouse floor.

This insight makes it easy to communicate with operators when they fail to meet expectations, providing documented talking points for clear communication about infractions.

Voids in lockout/tagout communication

Lockout/tagout systems save lives, preventing approximately 250,000 accidents, 50,000 injuries, and 120 fatalities annually. But you need a system in place that adequately communicates to workers when equipment is shut down for repairs.

Telematic lockout/tagout measures can alert employees when certain pieces of equipment are temporarily disabled or out of service.  The lift-truck won’t operate, and everyone is kept informed as to why.

Clear and open communications about potential risks and why rules are in place create a culture of safety in a warehouse facility. Workers must understand their role in protecting themselves and others and take ownership of safety regulations on the warehouse floor.

Topics: labor management, driver behavior, fleet drivers, injuries, loss avoidance, human error, safety improvements, operator behavior, limit risks, forklift operators

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What Should be on Your Forklift Training Checklist?

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Sep 4, 2018 4:00:00 AM

OSHA’s specific training requirements for forklift operators are proven to increase safety in what is considered a relatively dangerous work environment — the warehouse. But did you know that hands-on training and observations are one of the best ways to ensure information is retained?  risk-1945683_640

OSHA forklift training states that instruction and evaluation must include formal and practical training that concludes with an assessment of the operator’s performance in the workplace. More specifically:

  • Forklift operators must be trained and certified to operate the vehicle they use in the workplace, and operator performance must be evaluated every three years.
  • Refresher training is required by OSHA regulation 1910.178(l) when drivers are found to be operating in an unsafe manner, have been in an accident or near miss, score poorly on their 3-year evaluation, or if there are changes in the workplace or type of truck.
  • It is estimated that 20 - 25% of the accidents are, at least in part, caused by inadequate training.
  • Training should be personalized. Each of your forklift operators has specific skills where they excel and areas that need work.

Training should include written guidance but focus on hands-on instruction backed by checklists to ensure that the required training and evaluations take place.

Training Checklist 

  • Demonstrate inspection of the forklift and how to complete the safety checklist.
  • Discuss proper fork height and forklift safety, i.e., mounting, seat belts, hand placement, back up alarm, horn, lights, and stopping and starting procedures.
  • Review requirements of the stop-honk-go protocol through doorways, end of aisles, and passageways.
  • Walk operator through the forward and backward slalom driving course evaluation. Discuss where cones are located and explain how to make the turns correctly.
  • Instruct the operator about safety and forklift requirements in handing a load, i.e., how to approach the load, fork placement to ensure a secure load, the proper forklift depth in skid to balance the load, how to lift the load to the appropriate height, tilting the mast for safe pick-up and drop-off of load, and how to lower the load.

Evaluation Checklist

  • Operator must demonstrate proper forklift safety, including safety inspection and checklists, mounting, seat belts, and all safe operation protocols.
  • Operator must demonstrate skill and knowledge throughout the test course, i.e., proper turns around cones, avoiding impact, slowing down and sounding the horn at cross aisles and blind spots, and observing speed limits.
  • Operator must understand and demonstrate safely lifting a load, it’s placement, and the tilt and height required to avoid tipping the forklift. Safe lowering and placement of the load must be completed.
  • Operator must demonstrate proper stopping of the forklift, use of the emergency brake, and safe dismount from the vehicle.

Keep training and evaluation simple, hands-on, and tailored to what each operator needs. Advanced telematics can be instrumental in monitoring and determining forklift operator training needs, documenting skill deficits and warning you when certifications will expire.

 

Topics: Forklift safety, labor management, driver training, forklift drivers, proactive warehouse management, operator behavior, limit risks, forklift operators

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Operator Praise — Make Drivers Feel Valued & Boost Labor Productivity

Posted by Thelma Marshall on Dec 28, 2017 4:00:00 AM

Almost everyone responds to praise and knowing they have done their job with exceptional skill. But, with time constraints and daily challenges, operator praise and recognition often get put on the backburner. Lifttruck.jpg

But, it doesn’t require a lot of time to make a driver feel valued. You can easily track an operator’s performance and productivity and communicate this kind of support if you have the right information at your fingertips.

Telematic monitoring as a data-collection tool to increase labor porductivity

Today's telematics platforms monitor labor productivity and benchmarks any results that rise above the norm. So, you are not just looking for trouble spots or bad behavior, but can see and recognize a job well done, too. You gain this through:

1.      Optical location

This telematic feature provides instant information on forklift speed, location, and operator. It allows speed limits to be set and monitored for each type of forklift, so managers can see driver behavior in real time.

2.      Operator report cards

Operator report cards provide a complete view of an operator's compliance with safety standards, checklist completion, and overall performance on the warehouse floor. Often operators are forced to move material under tight timelines to address customers’ just-in-time needs. This tool allows a manager to see if work was completed with safety in mind and if there were no infractions over a specific period of time.

3.      Vehicle and warehouse activity linked through telematic software

Managers can make a direct correlation between job performance and productivity. For example, TotalTrax SX/VX measures forklift travel times, speed, load on/off times, idle times, and job tracking.

Operators, rewards and recognition

Your employees want recognition that shows they are valued and you see their hard work. This promotes continued hard work because they know it matters and will be recognized. And recognition doesn’t have to be large — the point is to receive praise and to feel that someone noticed their efforts. success-938346_640.jpg

Some simple ideas include:

  • Sharing their accomplishment: Put their name and their exceptional efforts in the company-wide newsletter, or post it on the bulletin board. Mention them and their skills, or the job well, done at the next team meeting.
  • A small token reward: Try a gift card that buys their morning coffee for a week, or one that pays for lunch at a local sandwich shop.
  • A little perk, like leaving work a bit early or a longer lunch break: This may cost more than a gift card, but it is a great incentive that employees will strive for.

The valued worker is one that will exceed expectations and be vested in outcomes. Though no news is said to be good news, employees want to get positive information — like a pat on the back or a reward — especially when they exceed expectations. Telematic monitoring and operator report cards are an easy way see individual results and recognize them.

Topics: labor management, employee recognition, reward programs, operator report card, forklift operators

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How Telematics and Labor Management Work Together

Posted by Neil O'Connell, SVP Technology, Innovation, & Product Development on Nov 16, 2017 4:00:00 AM

You probably know the advantages of telematic insight when it comes to managing your fleet, but what if you could leverage that information for more effective labor management? You can, because fleet and labor tracking can be easily merged. track-2906667_640.jpg

Telematics systems can now share important workforce data with your labor management systems. The two systems can now communicate data seamlessly. This gives management a huge efficiency and safety advantage.

For example, do you have insight into the productivity and behaviors of each individual employee? What if you could identify if an operator does the required safety checks, if he speeds, or if other reckless behavior is noted? What risk could you avoid and address armed with this knowledge?

Worker shortcomings can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in:

  • injuries
  • equipment and worker downtime
  • damaged equipment
  • OSHA violations and fines

Telematics can identify those risks and inefficiencies, so you address them in real time, before they occur.

When telematic tracking marries with labor management

Labor costs encompass as much as 70 to 90 percent of the operating expenses for a standard materials-handling operation. The cost of that labor only equals the work performed if everything is operating smoothly.

Say, for example, you don’t know how much time a driver is active with a load, or whether certain areas of your warehouse are more prone to accidents than others. This results in struggling to meet labor standard benchmarks, to measure productivity improvements, and to reign in your labor costs.

Telematics gives your Warehouse Management System (WMS) an improved “big-picture” visibility, helping you forecast and highlight hidden costs such as worker safety, damage to inventory or racking, and premature wear on material. Most importantly, it identifies what needs to be done to improve performance.

A telematics platform provides:

  • Analysis about the productivity of all operators compared by shift, site, and region.
  • The ability to pinpoint driver inefficiencies or a need for improved driver training. Forklift drivers account for 70 to 80 percent of the hourly cost of operating a lift truck, so targeting improvements or additional driver training saves time and money.
  • Identified areas where workflow or personnel changes would improve productivity.
  • Improved inventory accuracy. Monitoring and measuring the movement of assets — including inventory — in real time is vital to identifying and then eliminating the source of inefficiencies.
  • Insight into traffic movements, which identify the most effective locations for fast-moving pallets. It can become possible to move every pallet up to 15 seconds faster, and, over time, reduce operating costs and boost productivity.

Leverage a telematics platform to easily merge data from all three elements that make up your warehouse operation — inventory, people, and hard assets. This comprehensive, detailed insight gives you the big picture on what’s happening in your facility and why.

Topics: smart trucks, labor management, fleet operation, advanced telematics, Software integration, operator report card

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