The driver shortage is no longer looming. It’s here. To help you minimize the pain, here are 10 recruiting-and-retention suggestions gleaned from the winners of Trucking HR Canada’s Top Fleet Employers Competition.
1. Hire on values.
Caroline Blais, recruitment manager at Prescott, ON-based Kriska Group of Companies, says Kriska hires on values and invests in training.
“Recognizing that skills can be taught allows us access to a larger pool of potential hires and our comprehensive training programs ensure that all of our hires, regardless of experience, meet our standards before they start working on their own,” she says. Kriska also has a deferred profit-sharing plan to create a sense of partnership between the business and staff. When the company does well, everybody wins. The plan is registered as a trust with the Canada Revenue Agency.
2. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
Trucking HR Canada received the following feedback from Erb Transport drivers: “Upper management is very approachable and available.” To hear David Dietrich, Erb’s VP of human resources tell it, many of the company’s executive and senior management team still drive when needed.
“We have received comments from employees who appreciate seeing managers drive, help on the dock, pitch in with dispatch, etc. Furthermore, by performing these functions, it provides managers with a deeper understanding and empathy for the challenges our team members have on a daily basis.”
3. Have drivers hire.
Bison Transport has a 15.89-percent driverturnover rate, low by Canadian standards and really low by U.S. standards. Linda Young, Bison’s vice president of people development commented: “We think the best ambassadors for our business are those who are currently working here. We have a 42-percent referral rate among drivers because they know best who will fit into our culture.”
Added Stephanie Fensom, Bison’s manager of driver services: “Those making the referrals can speak to our processes and provide guidance as well as direct them to the correct departments if they face struggles. It creates more of a family feel since friends have the ability to work and network together.”
4. Look after your own.
Dennis Shantz, director of fleet services for Home Hardware Stores Ltd., says: “Hire staff who have positive attitudes that fit your corporate culture.”
And once you have people with the right values, who you can train to do the job at hand, keep ’em.
“Ensure compensation and benefits are competitive and engage staff by recognizing, celebrating and communicating personal and company milestones and achievements,” Shantz says.
5. Give out your number. Really.
When MacKinnon Transport was founded in 1929, the family ran the business out of the kitchen. Four generations and hundreds of trucks later, it’s still like that, sort of. “You can speak with any senior person, without an appointment,” one MacKinnon driver told Trucking HR Canada. “They are responsible and accountable.”
Alex MacKinnon, the fourth generation manager, says staff input is always welcome. “Our drivers have my cell phone number, my email; they know where I sit in the office. We always have time to talk to them because without them, we don’t have a job,” MacKinnon says.
6. Bend. A lot.
At SLH Transport, driving takes many faces: city, shunt, regional, domestic, line haul, cross-border, and team. The company wants to work in as many lifestyles as necessary.
“This company is very flexible in regard to the personal needs of employees,” one SLH driver told Trucking HR Canada.
Ken Cross, SLH’s HR manager says: “The most effective recruiting and retention tool is an open-door environment that allows all employees to share their ideas and concerns to promote the growth of the employee and company together. This includes regular, scheduled company and owner-operator driver council meetings with senior management.”
7. Get everyone involved.
When Eric Carusi was promoted to general manager at TransPro Freight Systems, he had 84 drivers, and the first thing he did was hold 84, one-on-one, face-to- face meetings.
TransPro’s drivers say they’re treated with respect. “People call me by name in the office, not ask for me by my truck number,” one respondent said.
8. Bend, more.
J&R Hall, based in tiny Ayr,-ON., has terminals in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Alberta and Winnipeg. The terminals deliver “all the comforts of home” or at least as much as is feasible, to staff. They serve as a “switching point for drivers from every direction so they can maximize their hours on the road while creating more home-time.”
“Accommodating time-off requests promotes long-term loyalty,” says Lynn D’Aguilar, VP of J&R Hall. “We have some long-term drivers who like to take January and February off and go to Florida, and we do our best to accommodate their requests because we know the kind of hard work and dedication they provide us the other 10 months of the year.”
9. Foster family values.
Kindersley Transport Ltd. may be huge and the largest of nine divisions of Siemens Transportation Group, but the company hasn’t lost contact with its roots. The company was founded in 1962 by Erwen Siemens, starting with a single truck and seven employees. The company’s head office is still in Saskatoon, staying close to its prairie roots and among other things, Kindersley employees told Trucking HR Canada:
“[It’s a] family-owned company that takes pride and understands family does come first. Very goal and target minded.”
“Safety programs and the completion of such are linked to bonuses. These are offered online and on-site and range from manual handling to winter driving chaining… a great degree of flexibility for [drivers] wanting to be out longer or at home on a specific date.”
“I have been in this business for 20 years and I’ve never been happier at a company. These people really seem to try hard to accommodate drivers and treat them with respect.”
Kindersley’s Going Global program has successfully recruited from 28 countries and there’s coaching and mentorship opportunities for drivers. In fact, there’s onboarding and orientation for all staff, drivers included. There’s also reimbursement for training and education and a training fair. Plus, the Going Global program was not designed solely to fill drivers’ seats and hire mechanics but also to retain them through settlement efforts and by providing staff and their families assistance to become permanent residents.
10. Spare the rod.
The people running Logikor Inc., believe discipline and documentation are not as effective at correcting behavior as training, education and employee development.
“We strive to provide the environment, equipment and schedules that permit our team to meet our expectations and demands. We strive to communicate clearly and intentionally our expectations and we strive to listen and respond to our team members’ expectations and needs,” says Rick Morgan, quality and compliance manager.
“Do your staff recommend friends apply to your company? If not, then find out why, and plan a path to address the issues,” Morgan says.