10 Tips for Working in a Warehouse

Warehouse freezer worker hand wrapping a pallet.
Warehouse freezer worker hand wrapping a pallet.

Warehouses are great places to work at with many opportunities to make a decent living but can be overwhelming for newcomers.

Here are ten tips I wrote based on my own experience to make the transition into this job a little easier.

1. Wear Appropriate Clothing

The type of clothes you have while working will significantly affect your performance on the job. Heavy overalls at a dry and warm grocery environment will leave you sweaty, thirsty and wear you down quicker. They will also limit your movement making you uncomfortable.

Wear shorts or sweatpants if you work in a similar environment.

For colder warehouse environments such as the freezer you would need some heavier clothes such as insulated jackets, pants, balaclava or cold storage suits. Because of this, you are allotted more time and are in a lot less pressure to perform than in warmer environments.

2. Take Care of Your Diet

You need to have a good balanced diet especially if your job involves heavy lifting.

With a good diet, you don’t feel tired as much plus your chances of injury are reduced. Avoid fast food and vending machine snacks and drinks as much as possible. These are not healthy and cost a lot of money in the long run.

Take the time to make your meals at home and have a good balance of protein, carbs, veggies and fruits. Your body will thank you as you get older.

I use my days off to make healthy burritos that I freeze and consume during my working days.

3. Save Your Money

You can make a lot of money working a warehouse job. A lot of warehouses nowadays have incentive based pay where if your performance goes above a certain threshold, your pay is increased.

This gives you the opportunity to make lot’s of money if you are dedicated in your job. Unfortunately, many warehouse employees don’t utilize this money well. They gamble it away, spend it on frivolous things such as new European cars or on alcohol and drugs.

Don’t do this. Save the money for a rainy day or better yet invest it. Warehouse work can be hard and you can only work for so long without it getting miserable in the end. Make a plan to save as much as possible so that if you need to transition into doing something else in future, you’ll have some cash to rely on at that point.

4. Don’t Overstrain Yourself

You only have one body, don’t abuse it. Many new warehouse hires try too hard to meet and exceed expectations mostly to earn more income in incentives.

However, this is one of the quickest ways to burn yourself out. Sure, you can do this for the first few weeks or months, but at some point your body will give in. I see a lot of guys push themselves so hard in the beginning only to quit a few months later.

Try to keep a steady flow; don’t be too slow or too fast. You can also vary your performance during the course of the work day. For example, you can start out being extra fast at first but start to slow down a few hours towards the end of your shift. This will ensure that you still have acceptable performance numbers by the end of the shift.

An alternative trick is to have days of the week (especially at the start of your work week) where you push yourself to the limit and others where they take it easy. If your performance is measured by a weekly average, then this is a good technique to follow.

5. Use Proper Lifting Techniques

If your job involves lots of lifting, twisting and turning, then it’s important to follow lifting practices.

Lower back injuries are the most common source of pain and dysfunction for warehouse workers.

Bend at the knees when lifting an item, bring the the item between your knees and lift it by using your legs while your back is straight or slightly arched.

Remember to use this same technique when lowering the item (important!).

Using these simple but effective lifting methods will help avoid giving yourself a hernia while still keeping up with your work.

Wearing a back brace while working may also help protect your back by easing the strain you put on it while working.

6. Stay Hydrated While Working

Some warehouse jobs such as order selectors, loaders and reach truck operators can be gruelling and draining.

You lose a lot of water through perspiration. You need to replace this lost water or else you get tired faster and your performance diminishes. Bring a bottle of water with you to be sipping from while going about your work.

7. Get to Work Early

Arrive early to work so you have enough time to get ready before the shift starts.

I recommend being there a half hour to an hour before time.

That way, you have time for a snack or two, you can use the bathroom and can test out the equipment you’re going to use.

I’ve seen stragglers get stressed out when they arrive late only to find out that the available equipment, e g., pallet jacks or voice picking equipment is not in good condition, then spend (limited) time trying to fix the problems.

All in all, arriving late is not a good way to start your day.

8. Make Friends at the Warehouse

Warehouses can get stressful and depressing real fast. This is due to the pressure put on the employees to perform.

Making friends is a great way to deal with this. You all share the same issues and can give each other advise on how to get better at the job.

9. Wear Good Shoes

Get shoes that are light on your ankles to prevent injury in the long run.

The warehouse is a fast paced environment where you constantly rushing from one place to another and lifting heavy items.

Wearing heavy steel toe boots will get you worn out faster.

There are light steel toe shoes you can find on Amazon that work just as well but are light, have comfortable inner lining and you can run in them just fine.

10. Test Out Equipment Before Use

Don’t just jump onto any equipment or machine when you’re shift starts. Some of it may be faulty, slow are have low battery charge.

Using equipment like these will slow you down and lead to interruption. This can eat into your time and make you stressful.

This is why you want to get to work early to test out everything you’ll be using before you begin working.