Robots and Retraining Valuable Employees

Benefitting from Automated Fulfillment Solutions

A big shout out to Megan Smith, our fearless CEO, who was recently interviewed by journalist Michelle Cheng for a piece in Inc. titled The Real Cost of Retraining Your Workers to Keep Up With Your Robots.

The article focuses on how employers like us are training employees for the future.

As the article points out, “Smaller companies that have embraced automation increasingly are realizing that they not only still need humans, they need humans with a specific skill set." In a 2016 McKinsey report, 62 percent of executives said they needed to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce within the next five years because of automation.

“Some of our centers that have undergone training and structural changes have seen a 20 to 30 percent improvement in employee retention.”
— Megan Smith, CEO

Here at Symbia, we’ve been embracing automation and incorporating technology in our 18 distribution centers for years now, with the ultimate goal of boosting productivity. We use sorting and dismantling robots alongside shrink-wrap machines, conveyor belts and automatic printers in our centers to cater to our rapidly expanding e-commerce business.

But that doesn’t mean we’re hoping to replace our valuable workers with a team of robots. Far from it, in fact. Instead, it means we might need to retrain some of our all-star employees, and we certainly see the value in that. As we see it, it’s important that we invest in our employees in hopes of creating long-term relationships. This means paying a good wage, of course, but we also put a high priority on training our employees in order to retain them.

Since 2016, we’ve invested more than $350,000 in retraining. We send our mechanics to automation training where they learn to troubleshoot or service robots. We’ve re-written our training manuals and we’re busy creating specific courses so our team members can expand their skill set. For instance, as Megan explained in the Inc. story, we’re getting ready to roll out free online courses that will teach our supervisors new skills, like how to analyze the data we’re collecting regarding our production quality.

So, is it working, you might be asking?

You better believe it. Some of our centers that have undergone training and structural changes have seen a 20 to 30 percent improvement in employee retention.

That sounds like a win-win to us.