Managing a busy warehouse brings about new stressors every day, but ultimately the stress and hard work are rewarded with high productivity. While every warehouse has its own set of problems, many share some common warehouse management challenges and solutions. Knowing the common challenges will allow you to focus on the more unique ones in your warehouse.

Holiday Crunch

The busiest times in a warehouse are during huge shipping holidays at the end of the year. Holidays will not only be strenuous for you but also will strain your employees. During the holiday seasons, there are tight time constraints, which means you need the warehouse to be working as efficiently as possible. You may need to hire more people or offer overtime. Always prepare at least a month ahead of time for crunch months.

Try to keep morale up by letting your employees know that you appreciate their hard work through a small party or gifts. Low morale can result in low productivity or mistakes, so do whatever you can to keep spirits high.

Lapses in Communication

Miscommunications can happen in any workplace, but a miscommunication in a warehouse can be costly for you and the company. Make sure all employees have two-way radios or that a cell phone communication system is in place. Train all employees to know the different codes or language that must be used on the radios. If you notice areas where the radios cut out a lot or don’t come through at all, you may need to extend the range of your radio system.

Regularly build up the communication skills of your employees. Employees should know when to communicate an issue and who to go to about it. Post a flyer that details the chain of command or make a handout to give workers.

Inventory Mistakes

Mistakes are inevitable and will likely occur during inventory. The causes can vary between human and computer error, but no matter what the error is, it can cost you a lot of time or money. Take regular inventory often to keep mistakes small and within recent memory.

Try to come to logical conclusions with inventory mistakes. Avoid jumping to the conclusion of theft when dealing with products unless you have solid reasoning or an employee claim. Jumping to conclusions publicly can cause morale to plummet. As the manager, investigate accusations on your own or with a trusted, seasoned employee.

If the system is the problem, it might be time to invest in a more accurate way to take inventory. Put both a digital system and a physical book system in place to double-check numbers. Scan tools can often cause many challenges in warehouse management, and their solutions can be expensive or difficult. Watch for glitches in specific scan tools by having employees note which tool they’re using. Sometimes scan tools can double-scan items or not scan them at all, so be sure your employees look for that.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.