Warehouse Performance: It’s a whole new game

(2015-10-19 21:34:36)

One new way to save money on warehouse labor costs is to turn work into a game. No, we don't mean a chucking-things-across-the-warehouse-floor kind of game, but creating competition through gamification. It's a way to drive down warehouse labor costs by increasing employee performance and morale. The process displays performance data on the warehouse floor to create incentives for employees to perform better, while also making them feel part of a company team.

"For a long time, warehouses have been looking for different ways to produce better performance within the labor force," says Peter Schnorbach, senior director of product management at Atlanta-based supply chain software provider Manhattan Associates. "It's a natural extension for them to jump on the gamification bandwagon."

In one obvious way, warehouses have been gamified since they posted "x hours lost to injuries" signs on their walls. "Safety is the oldest measured performance in the book," Schnorbach says. "Why do you think they posted it? Because it incentivized people."

For companies that measure employee performance, that information can turn work into a competition that incentivizes whatever needs improvement, whether it's productivity, accuracy, or still, safety.

In addition, gamification can help employees feel less isolated, especially in large warehouses where they aren't likely to interact with each other, Schnorbach says. It can make employees more satisfied with their work, which reduces turnover—another cost saver—and maintains a happy and productive warehouse workforce.

"Exposing performance in the form of a game engages employees," he adds. "It lets them know they are important, that how they perform is important, and that they're contributing to the operation."

The concept is still new to warehouses. "If you said 'gamification' five years ago, nobody would have known what you were talking about," Schnorbach says. "Today you get fewer blank stares. Most people understand the concept."

Companies are starting to incorporate the use of flat-screen TVs in the warehouse to post performance information. More sophisticated gamfication programs give employees concrete rewards; for example, employees in the top 10 receive a medallion, and then, after collecting a set amount of medallions, they receive a reward.

Gamification will become more popular in the future, Schnorbach expects, and vendors will come up with a framework to make it more standard.



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