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Supply Chain News: Getting the Most Out of Training Distribution Center Workers


Competency-based Training Works, but is too Expensive for Most Companies

April 28, 2021
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Training in the warehouse: there’s never seems to be enough time, budget or results.

This is true whether the training is relative to basic processes and policies, or specific say to use of new technology, such as a Warehouse Management System.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Prologistix notes, companies should be diligent about creating training classes that engage the audience, gets them active and ensures their attention does not wander.

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It is notoriously hard to get adequate time to conduct the proper training. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the concept of “competency-based training” started to gain some traction – the idea being that training was only considered complete when a given worker could demonstrate he or she had mastered the skill they being trained on.

The approach was successful, but fell out of favor. Why? Because it was expensive to execute, and in the end companies went more for “fixed time” training, consultant Kevin Hume of Thru-Put Parteners recently told SCDigest. That means when the training time is over, it’s over – and companies in reality rely quite a bit on on-the-job training, with all the often hidden costs in terms of productivity and quality that can involve.

With that background, a recent blog post by warehouse staffing firm Prologistix offed some tips for maximizing training effectiveness of DC associates, which includes the following:

Understand what you want your employees to take away: Before you start your training efforts anew, Prologistix says, make sure you're aligning all aspects of them with your organizational goals and the specific areas of need among your employees. This takes careful planning and execution, it notes, but it should all be centered around the simple question of: "What do we need the takeaway to be?" Once you know that, “everything else can start to fall into place,” Prologistix writes.

Put the right people in charge of training: Companies may have a number of managers who could potentially run a good training session, but others who might not, Prologistix notes. Workers who are good at public speaking and/or are highly attentive or otherwise are very personable are usually more effective than others. Companies “simply because you don't want to have a training session that's boring or doesn't sink in for your employees," Prologistix observes.

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Think about whether it's narrow-focused or intended for everyone: There are certainly some training topics that are appropriate for everyone in the company (such as those related to warehouse safety) but for some situations, it's better to focus on smaller groups, Prologistix says. Since every hour a worker spends in training is one in which they are not working, it’s important to craft each session so everyone can get as much as possible out of these sessions.


Make it enaging: Prologistix notes that most of us have seen a work training situation that was trying to convey important information but which was not presented in a way that commanded attention. What happens in these cases? The training information is simply not absorbed. Therefore, Prologistix notes, companies should be diligent about creating training classes that engage the audience, gets them active and ensures their attention does not wander.

Of course, that is easier said then done.

Stay on message:
Finally, Prologistix writes, trainers commonly start taking questions about a specific training session and find themselves quickly off topic. Prologistix says good leaders need to be able to stay on course as best they can throughout the process. When things that are highly relevant, but not specific to the course the diversion can be quite helpful. In other cases, Prologistix adds, it usually won't be important to entertain every single question you receive for a large chunk of the session. Therefore trainers can safely move on with the training after a brief acknowledgement.


The reality is these points apply to any type of training, not just for warehouse employees, but they offer some solid advice when training DC employees.

What would you add to these training tips? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.




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