Improving productivity and morale in the DC with voice-technology

It’s a well-known fact that happy and motivated workers produce better results, as illustrated in findings from a recent study by Warwick University. The study, carried out in laboratory conditions, found that happier workers were 12% more productive than their counterparts. It underlines staff morale and wellbeing is not just an HR goal: it’s fundamental to business performance levels.

The logistics sector must actively manage morale to ensure it attracts and retains the best employees. The warehouse is a key focus here, and traditionally may not be seen as the happiest of working environments. 

However, warehouse managers now have one more tool to keep workers motivated, in both what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Keeping the workforce motivated

The concept of talking to a machine may not sound like a great motivator, but voice technology in a warehouse has been found to have positive effects on warehouse workers’ work- life balance and overall wellbeing. How? Through providing clear guidance and direction over the course of the shift, and enabling greater efficiency.

Through voice-directed work, warehouse staff use small belt-worn portable devices and headsets, leaving them hands-free and eyes-free, focused on the task at hand. Instructions from the warehouse management system are delivered through the headset, one simple command at a time. The picker confirms each instruction verbally and the system is updated in real time. As instructions are given on an as-needed basis, pickers can concentrate on single actions without distraction or delay, thereby reducing errors.

Compared to manual processes, which involve checking lists or screens while simultaneously trying to carry out high volumes of goods without making mistakes, a great deal of the stress associated with warehouse picking can also be removed. Businesses adopting voice have seen an average increase of 20% in worker productivity compared with previous systems. At the same time, accuracy rates have risen up to 99.98%, critical when considering that the cost of returning an incorrect item is up to five times as much as processing a new sale.


But how does being more efficient make workers happier? It’s the responsibility of the warehouse manager to ensure that a good job does not go unrewarded. With voice in place, it is possible to introduce competition and gamify elements of the working day, offering rewards for completing additional tasks or meeting all targets for a set period. 

By viewing workflows in real time and monitoring progress, employers can also adopt a more flexible model, re-directing staff onto particularly busy tasks in order to help teammates, for example. This way, the work is completed quicker, which quite simply means that staff are required to work less overtime and can restore the work-life balance.

This use of incentives, better informed by technology, contributes to the overall wellbeing of the workforce, while creating more fully-rounded employees.

Health and safety

Health and safety should also be considered as important to overall worker morale. Warehouses can be inhospitable at times but the increasing use of technology is helping to produce safer working environments. For example in freezer picking, wearing a voice headset means no need for workers to remove gloves to type information into a mobile computer, a small yet incredibly strong benefit through the course of a working day.

Working with both hands free also makes it easier to lift heavy items safely, and having both eyes free means better awareness of your surroundings, reducing the risk of accidents.

Cumulatively, all of this has a profound effect. Workers have been shown to be less tense at the end of the day. Their daily tasks become that much easier to achieve, there is a reduction in their worry of making a mistake, and they know they are working as efficiently as possible, allowing them to leave on time.

Is technology the deal-breaker?

The use of technology can be seen as an enabler for the productive warehouse. With the current pressure on logistics performance, it’s clearly in the warehouse manager’s interest to develop the most efficient working models possible. Happier workers are a by-product of this.

Securing skilled workers, rewarding them and retaining them allows warehouse operations to run as smoothly as possible. By having the more attractive workplace environment, companies are more likely to attract and retain the best candidates, ensuring quality results.

Contributed by: Honeywell Vocollect Solutions