Warehouse work is very demanding and can get quite miserable for different reasons. Having worked in multiple warehouses, I have made a few observations as to why this might be the case. I also list down a few potential solutions for this at the end of the article.
Most warehouse jobs are labor intensive. You are required to be on your feet all day while lifting heavy loads.
This is strenuous on your body and will contribute to stress during and after work.
Coupled with poor sleeping habits and diet choices, the stress turns into depression.
Not having someone to talk to at work can make showing up for work a miserable undertaking. You feel isolated and small problems will feel bleak because you have no one to talk or vent to.
This isolation morphs into depression over time. In fact, loneliness is known to reduce worker performance thus worsening the already dire situation.
Just like fatigue, pain is an everyday occurrence for labor intensive roles at the warehouse such as order pickers, loaders and reach truck operators.
As a picker, joint and muscle pain (e.g. back pain) is a constant feature of my existence.
For people not used to this, it can be quite distressing.
And just like fatigue, this problem is intensified by lack of proper sleep and diet.
Lack of Career Prospects
You work in the warehouse doing the same thing every day and don’t see any way of advancing yourself.
Seeing others who’ve also been working in the same role at the same warehouse for years without career progress doesn’t help.
It feels like a dead end job. Adding to this, the many hours you work and the exhaustion you feel after work doesn’t leave enough room for you to look for a better career.
Toxic Work Culture
When bad behavior from employees and management towards colleagues is allowed to fester in a warehouse, it becomes unbearable for most people.
I’ve worked in warehouses where experienced employees haze newer guys. This is bad for morale and leads to people feeling alienated and depressed.
Insufficient Training for New Hires
Some warehouses can be very busy places and lack enough training manpower.
New recruits are only trained for a couple of days and are expected to learn on the job the rest of the time.
Of course it’s impossible to teach everything there is to know about the job but the inadequate training leads to a lot of frustration for recruits.
This also affects experienced workers who have to deal with the mistakes they make.
This frustration can slowly lead to feeling depressed when one thinks they aren’t ready or good at their job.
Difficult Work Hours
Some shift hours can take a toll on warehouse employees’ well being. Night shift, in particular, is known to cause problems like sleep deprivation, cognitive impairment and obesity.
Depending on what time your shift is in, you may find it difficult seeing your friends and family regularly.
These issues are enough to make you feel stressed and even depressed.
Warehouse jobs generally pay well but only if you live in a low cost of living (LCOL) area. For those who live in or near major cities in North America, you may find that what you earn doesn’t go far enough for paying bills and saving.
Because of this, a lot of warehouse workers get into financial problems such as heavy debt. Financial difficulties in turn lead to anxiety and depression once someone finds out that they can’t adequately support themselves and their families even though they work long hours.
How to Deal With It
We’ve established that warehouse jobs may not be a cake walk. This all depends on specific scenarios of course since some people find them enjoyable.
If you don’t, here are a few tips on how to improve your work situation and feel better.
Get a Job at a Different Warehouse
If you have stayed at a warehouse for a while and find that you are still unhappy, try looking for a different job. Not all warehouses are the same so you may find one that is the right fit for you.
You will need to do your research to find a better one. Check online reviews (e.g. on glassdoor.com) for warehouse jobs you want to apply for before actually applying. These will give you a good indication of whether a particular warehouse is good to work at.
Get Into a Different Line of Work
Warehouse jobs are not for everyone and if you keep looking, you might find one that suits you well. Whether you fit into a line of work depends on various factors such as your personality, your health and your goals in life.
Try taking courses and certifications at your local college that align with your interests and that can make switching careers easier.
Change Your Shift Hours
Switch your shift hours from night shift to morning or afternoon shift if possible. Some warehouses give opportunities for employees to change their shift depending on seniority.
If you feel like your shift is what is making you unhappy, then switching may improve your situation.
Get a Different Role at the Warehouse
It maybe that the role you are currently at is what is making you feel depressed. Find out what other roles there are at your warehouse that may make you feel better if you work in them.
There may be opportunities for career advancement at your warehouse. They may be announced on a bulletin board, for example. Take advantage of these as much as you can.
Take courses and certifications that may make it easier to switch roles if need be.
Call in Sick When Necessary
If you are dealing with pain, fatigue or illness call in sick. Working while unwell only makes you miserable and diminishes your quality of life.
Take this time to heal by resting and catching up on some quality sleep.
I can’t stress how important it is to have friends in the workplace. These are the people you will share experiences with, vent to and guide you while working.
Most warehouse workers are friendly. Don’t be afraid to make small talk before work or during break.
You will also get tips that may advance your career in the warehouse, e.g. upcoming events, opportunities for overtime, training, switching roles and changing shifts.