As we look ahead, we recognize that retention is a critical component of the trucking sector’s business model and success in retaining a strong workforce. At a point where we have a skilled worker shortage, we cannot afford to lose our assets: our driving force who keep the economy moving and our businesses growing.
We have companies with varied turnover rates and those rates result in dollars lost. We have companies that have varied hiring practices, which inevitably result in varied retention rates.
The reports indicate that the skilled worker shortage will continue to increase as we move toward 2024. It’s time to reinforce our retention practices so we can reduce our turnover rates – resulting in strong retention practices.
It is a topic worth considering. We need to put the same level of effort into retention as we do into recruitment. Why is retention a challenge? What areas are we missing that create this barrier to stronger retention rates? Do we accept high turnover as the cost of doing business?
Let’s take a step back. The loss of one driver can have a potential cost implication of up to $5,000 (this may be low for some companies) to replace the professional driver. Lose 10 drivers and suddenly you are at a loss of approximately $50,000. In a sector where margins are tight, can we afford those types of losses without exploring why and how we can do better?
Understanding why we lose people in our sector can be challenging. Even the best exit survey strategies do not always yield the information we need to remove barriers and retain the individual or offer insight into what we can do differently; however, the survey is an essential tool that provides an opportunity to learn... it just needs to go beyond the surface. We need to go to the beginning at the point of hire.
The first thing I think about when looking at retention is trust. Is there trust being built at the recruitment stage – at a level that can be delivered beyond the promises made at the point of recruitment. Can we deliver the pay, home time, benefits, flexibility and everything else that we have promised?
Trust is a deal-breaker for many of us. If you promise professional development in the first year of an employee’s career and then do not offer it, you have broken trust. If you promise a raise after a three-month probation period and do not provide it, you have broken trust. If you promise a professional driver that they will be able to be home for special occasions and you do not get them home, you have broken trust.
When you break trust, you start the inevitable demise of turnover.
That employee has taken the first step, compliments of broken trust, toward disengagement. With disengagement comes the eventual demise and turnover results. Many will say the employee should have asked for whatever they were promised. A lot of times we default to the onus being on the employee; however, is the onus on them? Let’s look at this example. If your practice includes professional development for employees within year one of employment and it’s a practice you follow for all employees, do they really need to ask for it? You are doing this all the time, as you promised at point of hire; therefore, it should be second nature in your on-boarding plan at ‘stage X’ that you offer professional development.
How about the promise of a raise after the professional driver’s three-month probation? Again, we default to the fact that the driver never asked for it; however, if it’s a practice we say we follow, does there really need to be an ‘ask’? I am sure many will ask but the trust factor is already questioned. If I have to ask for what you stated is your company policy, what else am I going to learn is not company policy and simply a ‘nice offer’ when you were recruiting me. As the employee, do they want to continually chase what was promised to them? No, nor should they. It is up to us as the employer, recruiter, operations people – everyone linked to hiring and retaining employees – to ensure the trust factor is not broken.
What about how we make people feel from the point of hire to on-boarding? Are we doing everything we can to make the individual feel welcome or do we toss a bunch of policies at the person and ask them to read and sign each and every one, confirming that they’ve read them all?
It is an overwhelming process to review policies properly – especially when we do not have time and feel pressured to sign them.
Do we introduce the individual to their team and give them a chance to sit down and talk about what they’ve learned during recruitment, so we can confirm that ‘yes we are working on the same page,’ or is it a fleeting introduction with a distracted fleet manager, technician or manager saying hello but not really engaging with the new hire. Regardless if it is a professional driver or administration employee, the individual needs engagement at the first point of starting with your company.
Think back to a time when you started a new job and reflect on a great experience and a not so great experience. With those memories in mind, what would you want your new employees to experience? I assume your answer would be ‘to have a great
on-boarding experience.’ As an employer, we want new hires to feel valued, confident in their decision to come work for us, and to be able to trust that what was promised will be delivered. We want them walking away with a positive impression of their early days, filled with networking among their team and focused on learning.
We can say we do not have time for this but can we afford to not make the time to help a new employee understand the company culture and feel welcome? If we are that busy then on-boarding should take place the following week.
Some things you can consider when on-boarding your new employees include educating them (on day one) about the customers of your company and what the company stands for. We may assume that the individual would already know this but we cannot make assumptions that the employee (to this point) has retained all relevant information.
A meet and greet between the new employee and their immediate team on the first day is another great way to welcome them into their new work environment. This can be done with all employees – both office staff and professional drivers.
To accommodate your new employee, you can offer them the opportunity to take your workplace policies home to read, over a short period of time, or send them to the individual to review prior to their first day.
Avoid the paperwork overload so your human resources team can focus on the key areas: create a ‘welcome to the team’ checklist of what your new hire needs to bring for day one of employment with your company.
The reality is, we have one chance to make a first impression, which will set the tone for employment with your company. What tone do you want to set?