Warehouse workers like their work in principle – and even more when working conditions are right. This fact was now empirically confirmed by the project “MoLa – Increasing Motivation for Logistics Specialists and Auxiliary Staff in the Warehouse”. The project ran for a period of two years. It was carried out in a team of researchers from the University of Augsburg, headed by Prof. Michael Krupp and the Chair of Psychology in Working Life at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Nuremberg, Prof. Cornelia Niessen, and the Fraunhofer SCS together with storage companies.
As a first step, it was necessary to make storage performance measurable by means of suitable, i.e. quantitative, benchmarks, so that it could later be compared to other storage facilities. For example, the benchmark “quality” was calculated from the quotient of the faulty items in the goods issue and the total items in the goods issue. Likewise, there are formulas for calculating the benchmarks “productivity” and “costs”.
In addition, they wanted to find out if storage performance could be increased by non-monetary incentives. In two rounds of research, about a year apart, the researchers used a benchmarking study to determine the warehouse performance at both times of measurement as well as the causes of changes. At the same time, employee surveys on motivation were conducted by telephone.
A good starting point: Warehouse employees basically like their work!
The study came to the gratifying result that warehouse staff basically enjoy their work. In this respect, companies are to concentrate on maintaining the intrinsic motivation, i.e. the inner motivation and the employee’s own motivation, by taking suitable measures and by reducing demotivating working conditions. The scientists were also able to prove that the motivation of the employees can be increased by a whole series of non-monetary measures. This can already be achieved with various process improvements in everyday working life, the researchers note. Good work equipment (for example, sufficient access to IT or breakdown-resistant forklifts) can avoid frustration.
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The researchers point out that, currently, mainly monetary incentive systems exist to increase extrinsic motivation. On the other hand, non-monetary and intrinsic incentives in this field have not been sufficiently researched.
The operational managers (warehouse managers) play a particularly important role in motivating the employees because they form the interface between the upper management level and the warehouse staff. But operational leaders are often not well enough prepared to fill this role, which means that measures from HR hardly reach the warehouse staff.
For practitioners: In June, a systematically prepared study with a concrete catalog of measures will be published
The project team developed a catalog of measures for operational managers. It is based on the findings of the benchmarking survey, the employee survey and motivation workshops with executives. In this catalog, operational executives learn specifically which incentives they can use to increase motivation of warehouse employees and how these incentives work.
The catalog of measures is part of the study which will be published in June 2018 presenting the results of the research in a practical way. Here, senior executives and warehouse managers learn about how the inventory performance can be measured and how it is affected. They gain insights into the interactions between different goals and actions and learn how to train operational leaders to motivate employees.