Xmas is coming, and this only means one thing for supply chains up and down the country: increased demand to satisfy. The demand for more products often means an economically prosperous time of the year for most businesses, as consumers come out of the woodwork to spend their hard earned cash on presents for their friends and family.
This prosperous time can only be fully utilized if supply businesses adapt and rise to the challenge, meet the demand, and keep customers happy. This often involves taking on new, and sometimes unskilled, warehouse workers on a temporary basis for logistics services. This can help supply chains to meet demand, but there are certain risks to deal with.
The Benefits Of A Temporary Work Force
The Xmas period is typically much busier than any other time of the year, and it is as predictable as the seasons themselves. New staff are often needed, but they are only needed temporarily, and will likely be dropped once the busy period is over. This is the main reason why a temporary force is used; the work is known to be temporary, and permanent employees are not needed.
Often the work is menial and can be easily picked up by even an unskilled workforce, who has no prior knowledge and experience. Amazon for example,take on thousands of staff over Christmas to deal with the increase in sales. They have however, come under serious criticism for over-working these staff, and so it is important that warehouses make working conditions fair for all.
A temporary workforce is often paid minimum wage, and are given little or no expensive training. They are therefore much cheaper than hiring a skilled workforce, or giving extensive training to staff.
The benefits of a temporary Christmas workforce can be summarized as follows:
- Great when increase in demand is only temporary, and can be predicted to fall again.
- Often menial work needed, and can be done even by untrained staff.
- Much cheaper than hiring experts, or giving new staff extensive training.
Unskilled Workforce: A Risk To Your Logistics
It may seem like hiring an untrained and unskilled workforce will be enough for a warehouse to cover the extra demand at Christmas, but unfortunately this plan is not without tremendous flaw. The increase in manpower may give the illusion of greater productivity, but this is not always the case. Productivity may actually decrease if the workforce is totally unaware of the inner workings of the warehouse and if they make mistakes too often. Take a look at our previous post on ‘How To Keep Pick and Pack Staff Happy And Productive’
In many cases productivity will not likely decrease from unskilled temps, but is the price for an unskilled workforce really justified by the output? It depends. Most of the time it is a better idea to give adequate training, or to hire people who are qualified for the job. This may mean paying out more in wages, but productivity will benefit, and demand is more likely to be satisfied.
More serious consequences can also arise from temporary warehouse staff that are untrained, and this will seriously detriment businesses who fails to recognize the risks. If temporary staff are left uninformed about the correct procedures for manual tasks then business owners could find themselves liable to pay out in injury claims.
Unskilled workers may also cause trouble in areas of health and safety, security, delivery routines, and storage rules, and their neglect in any of these areas can cause lower levels of customer satisfaction, or serious breaches of best-practices and legal requirements.
The risks of hiring an unskilled temporary workforce are as follows:
- Less productivity than expected compared to manpower.
- Injury liability and insurance if untrained and not briefed well.
- Trouble in other areas due to unskilled workforce. Decreased customer satisfaction and breaches of company policy, safety legislation, or legal policy.
Hiring a workforce for Xmas is, for many warehouse based supply chains, a necessity to meet the temporary demand of the busy festive season. This does not mean they should be untrained, and inadequate to comply with the job role and everything surrounding it. Preparation for the Xmas influx does not only mean hiring a workforce. It means allowing enough time to train them well, insure them, and brief them on all things safety and security.
For E Commerce sites looking for e-fulfilment services it is recommended to work with companies who are well prepared for Christmas, and who work hard to ensure their temporary staff are well trained, and well looked-after.