Maximizing workforce efficiency

A happy, efficient workforce figures large in corporate success, or failure. This is no more so true than in the global supply chain industry. Eric Miller gives six suggestions from a rugged computer vendor’s perspective to make yours a happier, more productive workforce


The goal of every enterprise is profitable operation. What constitutes profitability? Making more money than is spent. Numerous factors contribute to that one crucial goal. The right product, the right market, the right business model, good execution, and sometimes just plain luck. The economy may be right, opportunities may come along, new technologies may work out, policies and regulations create demand, and so on, but you can’t really count on any of these to remain as favorable as they are.

There is, however, one important constant – if not the most important one – and that is your workforce. Depending on the type of operation, workforce compensation and benefits represent a major part of the operating costs and thus have a direct impact on profit. On the other hand, workforce productivity can directly correlate with sales. This makes the efficiency of your workforce one variable that you do have control over. Which makes workforce management one of the most important parts of any organization.

In short, an efficient workforce means increased productivity, which means increased profitability. An efficient workforce is worth its weight in gold. But how to get there? Much of it is self-evident but is absolutely worth keeping in mind at all times. Here are six keys to having an efficient, productive workforce:

1. The work environment. Almost no two work environments are the same. What applies everywhere, though, is the importance of a suitable environment where people like to work. Work environments can vary and not every job – certainly as far as the supply chain industry is concerned – is in a nice, modern office with a stocked kitchen and a water cooler. But no matter where people work, they need a clear idea of what is expected of them, clearly defined tasks and goals, the right tools, and enough time to complete the job.

2. Workforce training. Hiring people and then letting them figure things out for themselves is a recipe for disaster and frustration. Invest in proper training for all aspects of the job, assign mentors or team up with a service provider that helps your workforce get acquainted to tasks, processes and equipment. Realize that training is an ongoing thing that includes refreshers, updates, and learning new things.

3. Motivation. An engaged and motivated workforce is a vital factor in assuring high productivity levels, but keeping your workforce positive and motivated is among the most difficult tasks in any organization. As there is nothing more demoralizing to a workforce than uncertainty, clear communication is key. Be clear upfront about work requirements and expectations. And most importantly, if you do performance evaluations, concentrate on what is done well and structure improvement as an opportunity.worker efficiency

4. Proper equipment. Almost all jobs today include computers, systems, and being connected. Make certain that your workforce has the right tools for the job. In logistics and supply chain environments, that means mobile devices and other computing gear that’s fit for purpose, easy to use, and powerful and reliable enough to get the work done. Invest in the right software, updates or replacements when required and, above all, a reliable communication infrastructure. There is nothing worse than not being able to log in or losing a connection when on the job.

5. Good support. A workforce is efficient when it can use the tools you give them. It is not efficient or productive when those tools are unsuitable, hard to use, or fail. Downtime or frustration over malfunctioning equipment are productivity killers. Do provide proper tech support, quick equipment service, and expert troubleshooting to help workers quickly get back up and running. Today’s mobile device management systems can easily keep track of devices, troubleshoot them remotely, keep them updated, and overall make sure that everything works as it should.

6. Include your workforce. While executives set directions and management implements those, it’s the workforce that’s on the frontline. They know what they need to get the job done, they know what works and what doesn’t, and they may have great suggestions on how to make things better. Take advantage of all that! Include your workforce as much as possible when making decisions on new systems or equipment, invite them in evaluations and testing, and include them in the decision process. They are the ones who will use the systems; feeling a sense of ownership and participation can do wonders.

Work is work and making a living. Better technology isn’t everything, but work with optimized tools and equipment is more interesting and engaging. It also helps get work done quicker, with less stress, and with less chance of inadvertent errors The result is win-win-win. Your customers will be impressed with the improved service, accuracy and speed of delivery your operation’s optimized technology provides. Your employees will appreciate having the right tools to get their jobs done, tools and systems they helped develop and select. And your entire operation will benefit from the kind of productivity an engaged and properly supported workforce can provide.

The result is win-win-win. Your customers will be impressed with the improved service, accuracy and speed of delivery your operation’s optimized technology provides. Your employees will appreciate having the right tools to get their jobs done, tools and systems they helped develop and select. And your entire operation will benefit from the kind of productivity an engaged and properly supported workforce can provide.

Case study
JLT rugged computers keep Swire Coca-Cola’s warehouse operations and operators moving
As one of the largest independent Coca-Cola bottlers in the United States, Swire Coca-Cola, USA needs rugged computers that can deliver maximum reliability with minimum problems, all while operating in a tough environment.

After working with JLT for many years, Swire Coca-Cola naturally turned to them when looking to purchase new rugged devices to improve their warehouse inventory systems. Over the course of 18 months, JLT supplied Swire Coca-Cola with 300 JLT1214N vehicle-mounted computers as they were expanding their territory in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and northern Idaho, including the cities of Albuquerque, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, Spokane and Tucson.

The JLT1214N computer is a real workhorse for warehousing applications with the higher performance that increases users’ productivity. It is based on the successful JLT computer platform and designed from the bottom up with the latest processor technology to deliver maximum reliability and efficiency in very tough environments, from cold storage rooms to broiling hot sun, from fixed wall mounts to vibrating forklifts.

“JLT has been extremely helpful in Swire Coca-Cola’s continued growth,” said James Sloan, Chief Financial Officer for Swire Coca-Cola, USA. “Improved productivity and reliability means we will continue to deliver excellent service with minimal disruption for our customers, consumers and employees.”

Eric Miller is CEO of JLT Mobile Computers, a leading supplier of rugged mobile computing devices and solutions for demanding environments. Twenty-five years of development and manufacturing experience have enabled it to set the standard in rugged computing, combining outstanding product quality with expert service, support and solutions to ensure trouble-free business operations for customers in warehousing, transportation, manufacturing, mining, ports and agriculture. JLT operates globally from offices in Sweden and the US, complemented by an extensive network of sales partners in local markets.
www.jltmobile.com