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FALL 2021

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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall 2021 / Vol 44 No 4


48 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Robert Footlik Robert B. Footlik, PE is a retired Professional Industrial Engineer. With over 50 years’ experience as a Warehouse and Logistics Consultant to a wide variety of clients including Fastener Distributors, Bob has a wealth of valuable information for our industry and he is willing to share it. While Footlik & Associates is now closed, his expertise is still available to his friends and our readers. For friendly advice, a second opinion or just to start a conversation, he can be reached at WHAT’S CHANGED IN THE WAREHOUSE POST PANDEMIC As the world slowly gets back to “normal,” it’s not the same normal of two years ago. There are subtle and overt changes that affect morale, operations and your life. For those who worked from home their routines, family life and even their pets are following far different paths. Expectations for time budgeting are now more family-centric. With zero commuting time and more time available for things around the house remodeling, landscaping and moving were reprioritized and that may now be gone. And, with the quarantining there was greater introspection which changes philosophies at home and at work. People are questioning their career choices, private lives and relationships. All this has come back to the workplace with them and it affects even essential warehouse staff that worked thru the pandemic. As their family members go back to school, work and social interactions reset everyone must readjust. As People Return To The Workplace… Even If They Never Really Left Isolation and stress have created a secondary pandemic of alcohol and drug abuse. This has been exacerbated by the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries. You may have to deal with this substance abuse in the warehouse and at all levels of the company. If there is a new “normal” of acceptance in the executive suite the warehouse staff will demand to be included, regardless of what consequences can occur when inebriation meets a 12,000 pound lift truck. Ignoring this is not a viable option. In 2020 everyone drove much less, but the road accident mortality rate per miles driven was far higher than 2019. Risky behavior is a major factor in this. With the roads empty people were speeding, cutting into CONTRIBUTOR ARTICLE traffic, tailgating, etc. Today with more cars back on the road careless behavior is still going on. Risks that were unacceptable in 2019 are now commonplace. In the warehouse and on delivery vehicles greater vigilance and enforcement of safety rules will be necessary to keep everyone safe. Don’t let safety infractions go unnoticed and implement training/retraining to emphasize your expectations. If risky behavior on the highways is abhorrent, why tolerate it in the operations? Vaccination can control Covid-19, but it cannot cure stupid. Drug intervention agencies have reported increases of over 100% in the number of calls received from people who tried to control stress using alcohol and drugs. This included individuals who were not directly affected by the pandemic…but other family members were. Psychological and substance abuse problems in loved ones will affect everyone. Be aware of this with returning employees and keep in mind that even those who came in everyday are not immune to pressures at home. What Should You Be Looking For? There is no universal answer to this question. Local customs, idiosyncrasies of your workplace, individual personalities and many other factors dictate behavior in any situation. What you should do is look for personality changes in your context, measured against what you remember pre-pandemic. People who were always cheerful and are now dour or even antagonistic will announce themselves. So will those who have turned aggressive. Their new behavior mode can quickly undermine morale and spread to everyone. Unless you are a trained counselor there isn’t much you can do directly, but you can facilitate their recovery by steering them to resources who can help. CONTINUED ON PAGE 130



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