How Threadless Motivates Its Warehouse Staff


Threadless has of course built its reputation over the last decade on being a community-oriented business.

Its customers design, vote on and then buy the shirts they want. In thinking about that cyclical process from the outside, it can be easy to forget about the tireless warehouse staff that makes it possible for all those artsy shirts to go from the factory to your mailbox.

In a recent speech given by Threadless Warehouse Manager Bryan Schaefer at the National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment in Las Vegas, it became clear the company goes out of its way to make sure the warehouse staff feels important. It's a good reminder for all bosses to assure every employee -- even the ones not visible to the public -- should be valued.

In a report on the conference, Schaefer explained it isn't a mystery to do this:

"Listen to employees and give feedback... Make it a fun place to work."

For example, Threadless' warehouse personnel play basketball in the warehouse at lunch, can play music loudly, and even get to clock out at 3 p.m. on Fridays. Threadless also occasionally books bands to play live for them.

If you're still thinking there should be a separation between work and play, consider this: Schaefer said Threadless shipped 19 percent more T-shirts this quarter than the first quarter last year. He also noted:

"Our biggest hurdle is reducing the amount of labor during peak periods [to assure accuracy in filling orders]." 

The lesson: A job is never just a job. Find out what it takes for your workers to love their day-to-day, and they won't just see it as a paycheck.

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