Logistics KPIs: How Pre Hire Assessment of Physical Abilities Helps Achieve Them…

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 12, 2022 2:43:10 PM / by Deborah Lechner

Pre Employment Testing of Applicant Physical Abilities Helps Logistics  Achieve KPIs

In the warehouse and logistics industry, it’s all about speed and accuracy. And the industry’s KPIs reflect those two factors:

Speed Related KPIs: On-Time Shipping – shows the percentage of shipments that left the warehouse on time. Inability to ship on time can create disappointed customers and decrease the likelihood that shipments make it to the customer in time for a pending event.

On-Time Final Delivery – a carrier’s ability to deliver on time to their scheduled arrival date. Missing an appointment is both financially costly (i.e. chargebacks) and increases the likelihood of having to reschedule the appointment, creating further delays

Dock to Stock – is the time between receipt of an order and the time that it’s put away. Fast dock-to-stock time ensures product is ready for resale ASAP.

Accuracy-Based KPIs

Inventory accuracy –the accuracy of orders pulled from the warehouse. Inaccuracy affects customer satisfaction and creates additional costs to fix incorrect orders.

Order Accuracy – Percent accuracy of orders filled correctly. When orders are filled incorrectly, chargebacks and delays are the likely result.

Workforce Abilities Affect KPIs

Of course, an organization’s processes and systems influence all the above KPIs. But it’s not only the processes and systems that are important. The warehouse or final mile delivery employee has a significant influence on both speed and accuracy of the work.

And what influences an employee’s ability to work quickly and accurately? A worker’s personal physical abilities have a lot to do with both these performance metrics. In warehouse and delivery work, both strength and endurance are interrelated and significantly impact work performance.

Strength. If employees don’t have the strength to do the lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling required for logistics work, they fatigue more quickly. With the length of some shifts lasting up to 10 or 12 hours (especially with the current workforce shortage), fatigue is a big issue (more on that below).

And if an employee’s strength is not adequate for the job, pretty soon they’ll either report a work-related injury, leave out of frustration, or begin to work in pain. And if they work in pain guess what happens, they work more slowly, take more microbreaks and the accuracy of what they do diminishes.

Endurance/Fatigue. When fatigue sets in, work slows down and concentration reduces. Both of which affect the KPIs related to speed and accuracy. Additionally, fatigued workers are less likely to cope effectively with the stress of meeting quotas and deadlines.

How pre-employment testing of the applicant's Physical Abilities (PAT) Can Help

So how do you make sure your logistics employees have what it takes to do the job? A pre employment test of the applicant's physical abilities (PAT) can help you select employees whose physical abilities match the physical requirements of the job. And when physical abilities match job demands, it’s much more likely that the employee will be able to handle the workload for the entire shift while maintaining speed and accuracy.

The typical pre-hire assessment has several lifting tasks, some pushing and/or pulling tasks, and may even include a circuit of activities to address endurance/stamina. Pre hire testing may also examine the candidate’s ability to kneel, squat, bend, and reach. If associates are climbing on and off equipment or on ladders or must negotiate uneven surfaces (think walking outdoors), the test may also include some balance testing.

If the job applicant (to whom you’ve made a conditional offer of employment, contingent upon passing pre employment testing) passes the test – great, you can proceed to next steps. If the applicant fails, you can rescind the offer – much like a failed drug test or background check.

Can’t Afford to Be Selective? Use Pre Hire Assessment for Job Placement Instead.

Given today’s current workforce shortage, some logistics organizations are reluctant to start a hiring practice that selects out candidates from an already very small labor pool. I could give you many reasons why that’s a short-sighted decision, but instead let me suggest another alternative…

Pre employment testing for Placement.

Use PAT for placement, not selection. If your organization has jobs with a variety of physical demands - some lighter duty jobs, some heavier duty – why not test your new-hires to determine the best job fit for them. It only makes sense to put the stronger applicants into the jobs that require heavier lifting and more strength.

Work Acclimation Programs.

If too many new hires are falling into the lighter duty category and you don’t have that many light duty jobs, then you might want to consider a Work Acclimation Program for a few weeks instead of throwing them into full duty, 8 -12 hours per day. During that program new hires would perform tasks where their abilities match their job demands, as well as spend some time doing a strengthening/conditioning program.

You can accomplish two things with a Work Acclimation Program. First, you can improve the person’s strength and endurance to do the job and you can teach them proper materials handling. At ErgoScience, we like to supplement the materials handling training with wearable sensors that provide vibration feedback when workers lift incorrectly. It’s like having a personal trainer on their shoulders and reinforces the training they’ve had.  

Too Time Consuming?

Yes, it will take a little longer to onboard a new hire this way. But what’s the alternative? You’ll continue hiring people who either bail out after a few weeks, work more slowly, make mistakes, or who get injured. These are the inevitable consequences of hiring individuals who don’t have the physical ability to do the job.

The Benefit. Pre hire assessment – regardless of whether you use it for selection or placement - can help you decrease the churn, prevent injuries, and improve speed, productivity, and accuracy of your work. All of which affect your KPIs and your bottom line.

 To learn more about our pre employment testing and other Supercharged Injury Prevention Strategies attend our free live virtual workshop on July14th at 12:00 CDT.

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Topics: Workplace Safety, Injury Prevention, Risk Management, Workers' Compensation Costs, Reduce workplace injuries

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.