A Practical Guide to Workforce Performance in Peak Season

By North Highland

Believe it or not, the holidays are approaching. For many of us, this time of year conjures images of gift shopping, seasonal recipes, and festive family gatherings. But for retailers and distributors, it means one thing: the busiest time of the year. The operational playbook for peak season intentionally looks very different from the one used during the remaining months of the year. The best way to prepare your workforce for peak season is by shifting the focus from decisions that drive efficiency to decisions that ensure maximum throughput. In this blog post, North Highland explore key decisions that are sure to prepare your workforce for the busy months ahead.

Identify required skills and qualifications and create a plan to close any gaps.

Distribution leaders should first identify the most critical job functions in their facility and cross-train a large share of associates for those specific functions. Cross-training is an essential tool leadership can use to flexibly float associates as utility players in the event of unexpected absences or volume spikes. From a hiring perspective, assess the most needed skill sets in your facility in relation to peak season forecasts. Emphasize those skills as you hire.

Overcome inorganic attrition with employee empowerment.

For many retailers with large e-commerce channels, the workforce must grow by three or four times during peak season. This is often much more people than should be necessary. But a large portion of associates often quit before the end of peak season, sometimes even before training is complete, so distribution centre leaders need to staff up to overcompensate.

What’s behind the troubling inorganic attrition trend? Often, it’s a failure to position new associates to be successful enough to want to stay. To avoid this problem, review historical data trends from individuals who have quit before or shortly after completing training. Mapping operational performance and productivity trends to each step in the training process can highlight weak points in the training process that may be driving attrition.

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