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Everything to know about being a warehouse operative

The transport and logistics sector has been the UK’s fastest growing market over the past decade, with the number of premises doubling in the same period. Warehousing and storage is big business – literally when you consider the huge sheds and distribution and fulfilment centres that have popped up across the UK.

But what do all warehouses need to successfully come on stream and keep the supply chain moving smoothly? Legions of warehouse operatives. Here we give you the run down on everything you need to know about the job.

What is a warehouse operative?

A warehouse operative is a general worker within a warehouse. You might also hear them referred to as warehouse workers, warehouse operators, warehouse pickers, pickers and packers, warehouse assistants or warehouse employees. They work in storage warehouses, distribution centres and fulfilment centres looking after goods and inventory. All these job titles refer to shift work that keeps these depots operating around the clock, seven days a week.

What are the responsibilities of a warehouse operative?

A warehouse operative’s main role may include a number of different tasks and responsibilities, including:

  • Assisting with the loading and unloading of vehicles using manual handling techniques
  • Ensuring that all goods that are loaded or unloaded match the accompanying paperwork
  • Moving and storing products securely in the correct warehouse area and onto the right racks or shelves
  • Storing, rotating and replenishing stock according to established procedures
  • Processing, picking, packing and labelling orders accurately and efficiently
  • Reporting any damaged items or stock discrepancies to supervisors or team leaders
  • Using computer systems and hand-held scanners for inventory controls, code checking and records management
  • Cleaning and maintaining the environment and equipment to set standards and schedules
  • Observing good standards of health and safety when handling goods
  • Contributing to operational efficiency and health and safety by always sticking to procedures, rules and schedules

What does a warehouse operative earn?

Average annual salaries are in the range of £18,000 to £22,000, with more earning potential for those with experience and/or certain skills, such as forklift truck driving. Salaries vary depending on factors such as location, position and contract type. Overtime is also often available.

At Kingdom Mercury, we always look to be competitive, not just with our hourly rates but also our employee benefits and commitment to retaining, training and developing staff. There are plenty of career opportunities for those keen to build their experience, learn new skills and take on more responsibility.

What qualifications and attributes do you need to be a warehouse operative?

There are typically no set entry requirements, but GCSEs in English and Maths and basic computer literacy are the sort of things that employers would look for.

As warehouse jobs can be intense and fast-paced environments, and involve plenty of manual handling, they often suit candidates with a basic level of fitness and mobility.

Warehouse operatives are also expected to be able to:

  • communicate clearly
  • listen actively and relay information accurately
  • work with care and attention to detail
  • be comfortable working independently or as part of a team
  • be practical, use commonsense and initiative
  • be reliable, flexible and well-organised

Do you need experience to be a warehouse operative?

Many roles are perfectly suited to those without any experience, as employers are more interested in attitude and personal qualities and will always offer comprehensive inductions and on-the-job training.

Obviously previous experience in a warehouse environment is valuable and may open up more opportunities and more responsible positions. But the fast-paced nature of the sector means that experience is gained quickly and good employees are nurtured keenly by employers keen to build a strong core workforce.

Is a warehouse operative a good job?

There are many positives about warehouse-based roles. There is always plenty of demand so a good candidate will never be short of opportunities.

The flexible ‘permanent/temporary/part-time/shift-based’ nature of the work suits many people who can’t or don’t want to do a more standard 9-5. There’s invariably a pattern of work that will fit in with your life!

Good recruits will be encouraged to upskill and be supported accordingly, and there are apprenticeships and even professional qualifications that can be acquired eg from The Chartered Institute for Logistics and Transport.

Pay rates are competitive and overtime is available. If you like rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in, being active and taking pride in a job well done, then warehousing is a great environment. With more experience comes more skills and more chances to take on new challenges in new roles.

Where can I find the latest warehouse operative vacancies?

You can check out our jobs page for all the latest job listings available with Kingdom Mercury.