Ship Shape: Four packaging training methods that improve worker performance and satisfaction
Warehouse managers’ jobs are tough: managing and motivating a large workforce with an historically high turnover rate, keeping them confident and informed, then figuring out how to staff up seasonally without throttling throughput.
But when the job market is good, their jobs get even harder. Skilled hourly workers have more choices, making it harder for employers to retain employees they’ve invested significant time and money into training.
And those aren’t the highest costs of turnover. When warehouse workers don’t consistently use the right packing methods or materials, damage rates rise quickly, disappointing customers and increasing environmental impact.
The answer is to engage a workforce-training partner that can provide a wide variety of services and resources to get new hires up to speed quickly and reinforce proper packaging techniques in experienced workers.
Four Proven Packaging Training Techniques
Pregis, a protective packaging materials and automated systems manufacturer, trains workers in a combination of settings – including classrooms, on-site and on-demand. From low to high-tech, here are four ways Pregis instills knowledge – and confidence – among warehouse workers.
1. Paper placards: While decidedly low tech, reminder placards are still effective, as they continue to serve as a convenient, on-site reminder of best practices. Pregis’ “how to pack” posters displayed next to each packing station provide pictures and text to explain proper packaging techniques and walk workers through each step of the process.
2. Classroom and onsite sessions: Why not have employees learn directly from leading packaging experts? Pregis can provide comprehensive classroom instruction for managers and employees at its Innovation Headquarters (IQ), a state-of-the-art packaging design, testing and training facility in Aurora, Illinois. Packaging engineers can show employees the best way to pack delicate and frequently damaged items, as well as how to use Pregis’ wide assortment of packaging materials and automated packing options.
Pregis’ team also enjoys a good road trip. Packaging engineers can visit shippers’ facilities and provide detailed instructions on how to handle difficult-to-pack products, how to use packaging materials efficiently and how to operate automated packaging solutions. At the end of the session, workers will have a solid grasp of packaging techniques such as void fill, wrapping, cushioning and blocking and bracing.
3. On-demand (and on-machine) training: This is where technology really starts to make things easier. Pregis’ IntelliPack foam-in-place system and Easypack paper packaging systems include the Maxwell Intelligent Interface, a tool that shows workers the correct way to pack each item. When a worker scans a product’s barcode, the machine uses preset product settings to produce exactly the right amount of packaging materials for that item.
Once a product is scanned, the Maxwell tablet will also display video or pictorial instructions on how to pack that particular item. It’s easy for supervisors to create videos and illustrative pictures and upload them to the Maxwell tablet through the Maxwell Media app. Or, they can send frequently damaged products to Pregis’ IQ Headquarters, where packaging engineers will determine the optimal packing strategy and produce training media for the Maxwell tablet.
4. Virtual reality (VR) training: Employees won’t soon forget the fully immersive VR training experience – and that’s the whole point. In fact, participants in VR training retain 80% of what they learned, compared to just 20% with traditional training.
Pregis provides generic packaging tutorials loaded onto virtual reality headsets, or packaging engineers can visit shippers’ facilities and develop VR tools just for them. The tutorials show new hires proper packaging techniques in an engaging way that ensures they will retain more information than from traditional training methods.
In addition, the tutorials essentially eliminate the need to have seasoned workers train new hires, allowing a shipper’s best packers to focus on maintaining throughput.
Employees are more likely to stay with a company when they are positioned for success and have the knowledge they need to perform their jobs well.
Connecting Employee Training to Satisfaction
Employees are more likely to stay with a company when they are positioned for success and have the knowledge they need to perform their jobs well, and that’s another reason why adequate training tools are key. Research shows that only 60% of workers strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work, and this uncertainty can become exhausting as they try to figure out what their supervisors and coworkers want from them.
With the national unemployment rate near record lows, the competition for talented employees now rivals the competition for loyal customers. Shippers that collaborate with a versatile and proven workforce-training partner like Pregis are giving themselves the best chance to win out on both ends.