What a pleasure it was to attend the BCTA Annual Conference and AGM this past weekend in Whistler. I was able to connect with friends and colleagues, and meet some new ones, all while taking in some great speakers and spectacular views.
One speaker in particular certainly caught my attention: Ken Peacock, chief economist and vice-president of the Business Council of British Columbia. He spoke on the economy and its impacts on trucking.
His views, however, for trucking and logistics employers were not so spectacular.
B.C. has one of the tightest job markets in Canada. Job vacancy rates are at 10% for trucking, which is more than twice the overall industry average in the province and wages can’t go high enough to compensate for high housing prices. When asked about potential approaches, Ken responded with an exasperated, “I am not sure what you are going to do.”
Which, of course, lead me to writing this blog because we can do something from an HR perspective. Let’s take a closer look.
Increased focus on retention
In a tight job market, retaining your employees requires an increased focus on their point of view. All employees are different and each has unique needs and goals.
But it’s safe to say that all of them want to know they are being paid at or above market rates. They all want to have good benefits. They want to feel appreciated and treated fairly. They want to be challenged and excited by the job they’re asked to do. They want to know that their contributions matter.
As such, it’s essential to offer attractive compensation packages. This includes base pay but also bonuses, paid time off, health benefits, retirement plans, and all the other perks that can differentiate you from the competition.
Identify what your employees value most and modify your compensation plans accordingly. For instance, with health and wellness being a top priority, health spending accounts and wellness accounts are two new approaches that give employees more flexibility than what traditional plans offer.
Be sure you can quantify everything that you offer your employees in terms of compensation and that you can effectively communicate it. We have free templates available on our website to help you get started.
Every person wants to be recognized for a job well done. Make it a habit to thank your employees when they go the extra mile. There are the small gestures like giving a gift card or an extra day off. And the big ones like greeting them in the yard with a handshake or pat on the back.
Do it in person and do it often. No matter the demographic, show your employees that you appreciate them, and share with them how their hard work helps the company.
In a tight job market everyone is putting in extra time. Which means you need to be aware of employee burnout. A healthy work-life balance is important, and your employees need to know that you understand and appreciate that they have a life outside of work.
Yes, the job needs to get done. But you can make sure people take their vacation and log off after hours. They need their downtime to stay productive, safe, and happy.
Communication and feedback
Effective and open communication is the cornerstone to retention. Employees should feel that they can come to you with ideas, questions, and concerns. Likewise, they expect you to be honest and open with them.
Connecting with your staff regularly will enable you to identify issues early. This can be done individually or in groups—do what works with your workplace culture and environment. Be sure to listen and be especially sure to act on any feedback they give you.
Finally, review your retention approaches regularly. You need to be current on compensation and on best practices. There is no one answer to improving retention in the trucking industry, and we can’t count on others to solve the problem, especially when the response is, “I’m not sure what you are going to do.”
The fact is, no one knows how to tap into your resources and reach your employees better than you do (although if you need inspiration, we’re here to help). In trucking, the retention challenge may seem like a journey of a thousand steep steps.
But you can get there. And the view from the top will be spectacular.