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The holidays are coming up, and we all know what that means—especially when it comes to warehouse management.

Orders will start flooding in, inventory will start piling up, and sometimes it seems like no matter how hard you try it can all be a little…overwhelming.

While we don’t need to tell you the effect stress can have on your staff (lost productivity, decreased morale, an increase in sick days), we do think it’s important to take some preventative measures to stop it from affecting your staff like you’re afraid it will.

Luckily, the answers might be a little easier than you’re expecting them to be. Here’s five things you can do to start making the holidays less stressful for your entire warehouse, and how they might even be able to help going forward:


Start early

Luckily, ‘the holidays’ have a pretty rigid schedule so you have time to figure out what you’re dealing with. As fall approaches, take the time to start with your usual holiday-shopping-based chores sooner than in years past. This includes small things like cleaning off pallet racks and reorganizing your shipping and receiving area (ideally with new metal shelves), all the way up to things like forklift maintenance and new hire training. The earlier you can start on these tasks, the smoother the next few months are going to be.


Train well and train early

Speaking of new hire training, hopefully you’ve already started with bringing on temporary holiday staff. While you might feel like you have too much on your plate to give them the attention they deserve, in all reality you should consider beginning their training early and making sure it’s comprehensive. Start determining where your holiday hires will be working and what they need to learn to better understand their roles, ideally by pairing them off with workers in their related departments as able. The sooner you’re able to get everyone moving on their new roles and accustomed to your most important procedures, the smoother things will be going over the next few months.


Equip your workers to the best of your ability

Whether they’ll be temporary holiday staff or new full-time workers, your crew is going to need the best tools they can get while they work through the next few months. Focus on providing tools (above and beyond your standard warehouse tools) that offer simple interface and a “zero training” mentality; easy-to-learn devices like phone-based barcode scanners for tracking inventory, touch-screen interfaces for tablets to fill out spreadsheets and learn needed software, and durable tools like keyboards and mice that are built to stand up to the rough usage they’re bound to go through. The faster your staff can get used to using their new tools, the less likely they’ll be to fall behind on work due to outdated equipment and/or inaccurate training.


Review order deadlines as needed

Even when done correctly, the constant flow of orders in and out of your warehouse can start to feel like one big choreographed dance routine. A reliable (and easy) way to make sure your warehouse stays a little more on top of things is to reschedule all your order deadlines earlier. This won’t require a ton of careful scheduling on your part—a good rule of thumb is simply to move everything a day or two earlier than they were previously to help set more realistic fulfillment expectations with your customers and provide a little leeway in the event of a delay.


Remember to take breaks and relax

After a few years in warehousing or retail, the holidays can start to seem like a much more unpleasant time of year. After following these steps to get ready for the busy season, make sure to not make it harder on yourself by overthinking or worrying too much. You’ve got a good team behind you and you don’t need to panic yourself into a bad decision (or worse) by letting everything get to you. Remember to take breaks, check in with other departments to see how they’re doing, and maybe take your staff out for dinner or drinks at some point to thank them for their hard work.

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