With the British public apparently set for a record breaking online shopping spree in the run up to Christmas, a shortage of good quality temporary warehousing staff could result in significant delays to the delivery of many orders, one leading logistics company has warned.
"Many companies operating in the logistics industry rely on short-term additions to their permanent staff to ensure that spikes in their clients' output are met," says William Walker of Berkshire-based online fulfilment specialist, Walker Logistics.
"But, it is clear from our own previous experiences that at times like Christmas and Easter the caliber of the people that temporary staff agencies are able to provide drops dramatically and this can put a strain on order picking and fulfilment processes."
"At busy times, agencies can still provide numbers of workers but their quality is significantly diluted. Indeed, some of the people they supply are so lacking in even the most basic skill sets that they can cause more problems than they solve."
Walker have sought to ensure that they avoid this potentially damaging issue by increasing their permanent warehouse workforce and by planning their staffing needs at the earliest opportunity. Doing so has allowed them to offer positions to temporary employees who are known to have the requisite experience, skills and attitude.
"It is absolutely vital that logistics companies plan their temporary skills needs well in advance of peak periods if they are to stand any chance of getting reliable people who show up for work on time and are capable of doing the work they're needed to do," he says.
William Walker believes that the best way for any logistics company to gauge the suitability of the temporary hands an agency has supplied is to simply consider how many of them would make full-time workers?
"If the answer is low or zero, then you have the wrong people working for you during what is likely to be one of your busiest and potentially most lucrative times of the year," he says.
According to William Walker those companies that focus principally on the bottom line cost of hiring temporary workers are likely to end up with less-than-ideal recruits.
"Walker Logistics' policy is to hire fewer people at a slightly higher rate but with the guarantee they will be high-quality workers who perform efficiently and effectively," he says.
"But many third party logistics services company still prefer the perceived savings of a lower hourly rate and find themselves with employees who are chronically late, poorly trained or who simply don't show up. As a result, their workplace becomes a revolving door of workers and, ultimately, their clients suffer."