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INTERVIEW - An employer's view on warehouse work

Securon Interview - John Williams

Could you give a brief run-down of what Securon do?

We are a safety harness manufacturer, so we make seatbelts and other safety restraints. We have a warehouse and a production factory.

How many temp workers do you have on at any one time?

It can vary depending on our workload but generally we have around 20 temporary workers split across two sites in addition to our permanent staff.

What would you say are the most important soft/transferrable skills for warehouse employees? 

The most important thing that we look for is a willingness to work hard and their general attitude towards the work they do. They do also have to be relatively physically fit to do this type of work because some of the work is handling heavy goods, it can be pretty strenuous.

How important is industry/work experience compared to qualifications/education?

In warehousing, vocational qualifications and higher education is not really needed to get started. We do have a few workers coming from oversees that happen to have degrees in one thing or another but that is not a requirement for the job at all.

Do you consider candidates who do not have any specific warehouse experience?  

Our workforce is probably a 50/50 split between those who do have warehouse experience and those who don’t. 

We like to give people a chance so if they don’t have any experience, but they are willing to learn, we are happy to give it a shot for a few weeks and see how they get on.

What skills do you lookout for in potential employees?  

A driving license is a big one, we do have vehicles and employees use them to carry out certain tasks so that is always helpful. 

The one thing that will make my eyes light up is a counterbalance forklift license because while we will train staff to get them a license it is always great if they already have it and some on-the-job experience of driving them.

What would you say are the hardest parts of warehouse work?

Everything is needed on a really quick turnaround. From booking in stock to putting it away, then pulling it for the production teams we do have to work at a fast pace. It is all go, go, go and it can be both physically and mentally demanding at times, especially when you think you have to make sure you are following the correct procedures at all times, you can’t switch off. Mistakes do happen of course, but mistakes can be expensive in this line of work. 

How often do you move temp staff to permanent positions?  

We have a high number of permanent staff who started off as agency workers. We invest our time into training our agency workers and developing their knowledge so we like to move as many as possible into permanent positions. 

My own right-hand man (actually a girl, Isabella) started working for us on the shop floor as an agency worker. She also did some time in the warehouse and has worked her way up to be my second-in-command, covering for me when I am away and running things on her own. 

If an employee is willing to put in the effort, we are willing to train them and keep them on and provide a good career if they want one. 

What can a temporary member of staff do to give them the best chance of securing a permanent position?

 A keen willingness to learn is a must, they do need to be a good team player as this industry is all about working together to reach the end goal. The most significant thing you could show your boss is that you can turn up for work regularly and on time!

Is a temporary role a good stepping stone to a long-term career in a warehouse?  

Yes, it really can be, for some industries it is seasonal and so you have less chance to get a permanent position, you really do have to shine to get offered a job but in a business like ours there are so many opportunities to turn a temporary position into a career just like Isabella did.

Are your staff measured through attainable targets?  

Individual staff are not given personal daily targets. As a team, we have a target in that we know what we have to fulfil each day, but this is always a team effort, it doesn’t rest on any one person to achieve. 

What 2 things should a candidate consider before applying for a job in a warehouse?  

Candidates should be aware of the physical aspects of the job, I think people under- estimate that side of things. 

The other thing to know is that with an agency the pay is pretty good but for permanent roles, warehousing doesn’t always pay huge amounts of money, however you can always build your earnings up because there are many opportunities for overtime if you want them.

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