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What Are Basic Skills in General Warehouse Work?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, warehouses store and secure goods for indeterminable periods of time. Warehouses also provide logistics services, including product labeling, inventory control and transportation arrangement. Employees thus need skills that enable warehouses to meet performance standards. For example, workers must perform physical tasks, have knowledge of computer-related software and interact with many people on a daily basis.
Reading comprehension skills are important to warehouse workers so they understand written instructions from managers and supervisors. To illustrate, notes, memos and letters may be provided to employees at the beginning of a work shift. Workers must similarly read manuals and product specifications that provide loading and handling guidelines. Additional documents a warehouse worker typically reads include delivery schedules, product lists and assembly drawings.
Warehouse work can be strenuous to the body, and workers need physical strength so they can endure long hours of standing and lifting. For example, employees often load and unload merchandise sent to customers or received by the warehouse. The latter is usually unloaded from trucks or railroad sidings and lifted onto warehouse platforms. Sometimes this activity is performed with a machine, but other times, employees hand-lift cargo. In addition to lifting, workers also need to bend, operate heavy equipment and walk repeatedly throughout a work period. It is thus important they be physically fit and take care of their bodies.
Warehouse employees need to have writing skills so they can input the correct text in appropriate format on health and safety records, quality control checklists and pallet receipts. They also need to answer assessment questions with short but concise phrases. For these purposes, correct spelling and legible handwriting are both required, particularly if the assessment forms are to accompany a customer delivery. Additional examples of paperwork that warehouse employees may need to complete include damage reports, dispatch schedules and receivable goods records.
Computers and related technical equipment are often pertinent to a warehouse employee’s job. Examples of functions in this area include using scanners to label and track stock with barcodes and sending notifications to appropriate colleagues. Employees may also need to research job records, input data to record goods movements and print labels or product-related reports. It is therefore important they understand the relationship between computer tracking systems and product transit. Familiarity with specific software may be required as well, although training for that can occur in the workplace.
Throughout their workday, warehouse employees must listen to explanations and directions concerning products. Instructions may also be provided to protect themselves and others from injury. Workers must interact with colleagues as well to provide and receive information, seek answers to questions and coordinate work tasks. When communicating with managers, warehouse workers may need to provide input, describe a problem with received goods or resolve a shipping conflict. Interaction with suppliers and shipping providers is another critical aspect of this work.
Jean Miller has been writing since 2008. As a freelance writer, she has developed website content, press releases and newsletters for a variety of clients. Miller holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in human resource management from Cleary University.