Predictability and Transparency in Compensation: A Best Practice Guide

Introduction

Are your compensation practices working for or against you?

In any industry, companies who have a strategic approach to compensation will likely outperform their competitors. As trucking and logistics companies compete for market share, a parallel battle is being fought over the labour needed to service an ever-expanding market. It is no longer just what we pay that matters to current and prospective employees. How that pay is perceived and received is just as important as dollar amount. Having a comprehensive compensation strategy, that is predictable and trends towards transparent is becoming increasingly important in an industry with different pay types.

Whether you are looking to find new drivers, dispatchers and support staff, or trying to retain those already critical to your business, understanding and employing compensation best practices can put your company in the passing lane.

This guide outlines current compensation best practices supporting fleet employers of any size position themselves as employers of choice amongst prospective and current employees. Topic areas covered include:

  • The benefits of pay transparency and predictability
  • Steps to help you create a robust compensation strategy you’ll want to be transparent about
  • Best practices in communicating compensation
  • How compensation relates to key current HR trends

The Current State of Industry Compensation

In Trucking HR Canada's labour market research the following key labour issues facing our industry have been highlighted.

  1. Labour shortages, specifically for Truck Drivers, continue to be a key concern and this is expected to continue and worsen in post-pandemic economic recovery. Key factors being the aging of the current workforce and difficulties attracting women and youth.
  2. Challenges in attracting and retaining long-haul drivers. Identified causes were lack of work-life balance and the complexity and unpredictability of pay structures.

While a compensation strategy alone doesn’t directly resolve these challenges, having a clearly articulated compensation philosophy, defined structures, policies and practices, and an on-going communication plan will have an overarching affect on them.

An important first step is understanding the current structures, their prevalence and impact.

Truck Driver Pay Types

Traditionally, truck drivers are paid one of four ways; by the hour, by the kilometer/mile, a mix of both, or by salary. Within our Top Fleet Employers, this breaks down is as follows:

 

Trucking HR Canada’s publication, The Road Ahead: Addressing Canada Trucking and Logistics Industry Labour Shortages provides further insights into the breakdown of long-haul vs. short-haul driver pay types. 64% of long-haul drivers report per km/mile pay as the most common pay type, versus short-haul drivers who are more commonly paid by the hour (almost 75%).

In addition, there are several variable (bonus) plan options, or other forms of pay, that companies introduce to further incentivise drivers.

 

Some examples include:

  • Fuel Bonuses
  • Safety Bonuses
  • Inspection Bonuses
  • Percentage of the Load

 

  • Accessorial Pay
  • Detention and Layover Pay
  • Stop Pay
  • Per Diem Allowances

These types of pay structures are seen throughout the industry, though they have the potential to be, and in fact in some cases are, overly complicated. This may make it hard for drivers to understand and predict their compensation. As we demonstrate later in this guide, predictability is a key factor that affects how employees perceive their pay, and ultimately, it impacts how satisfied with their pay they are.

Base Pay vs. Variable Pay

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    Base pay is the amount of money that you pay employees as part of their regular paycheque. This could include an hourly pay rate or a base salary.

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    Variable pay is paid to employees in exchange for specific performance measures. This could be any type of bonus, incentive or commission payment.

Employee Perceptions of Pay

Right or wrong, the reality is that there can be a great deal of mistrust from employees when it comes to compensation. This is true both within the trucking industry and outside of it.

Some of the factors impacting employee mistrust are:
  • Compensation isn’t always discussed. Conversations about compensation can be infrequent, and if they are done one-to-one with an untrained manager, they can be uncomfortable. If compensation changes are communicated only by letter, this leaves no opportunity for questions or context.
  • Without context, people tend to fill in the blanks themselves. They draw conclusions that are often incorrect or only partially true. These conclusions are then discussed with other employees and they are believed to be fact or truth.
  • Employees may have expectations about the level of compensation they should earn, or what they think others in their position (internally and externally) are earning. These become the measures against which they compare – even if those measures are inaccurate. Typically, if employees guess wrong, they guess that they are underpaid. [SEE GRAPHIC BELOW]
  • Without clearly defined and articulated pay practices, employees are left to assume when and how they can earn more. If these assumptions are incorrect, they will become very quickly demotivated for the lack of reward for their efforts.
  • Employees don’t always see the big picture. They don’t readily understand where they fit within a company’s compensation structure and further, they forget or don’t know all of the compensation components they receive. Some elements of their pay are forgotten.

Every employer has a “Pay Brand” – the internal and external perceptions of how the company pays. These can either be intentionally created, or they are built over time organically through the experiences of employees or interactions with candidates. It’s becoming more important to influence the Pay Brand for your company. Doing so will help to better attract, retain, motivate and engage your employees.

Within industries, there are also pay perceptions, and in the trucking and logistics industry currently, the perception is that the pay structures for truck drivers are complicated and unpredictable. Some people may leave, or not enter the industry at all, due to these perceptions. Taking the lead to impact these perceptions will certainly give your company a competitive leg up.

Two Emerging Practices: Transparency & Predictability

Employee perceptions and mistrust when it comes to pay has sparked a trend for increased transparency and predictability in compensation.

Pay Transparency

The traditional power dynamic between employer and employee is shifting. In highly competitive markets experiencing labour shortages (such as trucking and logistics), the negotiating power of employees is strengthened, and employers are challenged to become more transparent in compensation practices and discussions in order to attract top talent and prevent good employees from leaving.

Pay transparency is a spectrum. [SEE CHART BELOW] On one end, common in the public sector and government, are organizations that readily disclose salary information and pay structures – even publicly posting an individual’s earnings for anyone to see (for example, Ontario’s Sunshine List). On the other end, the practice in some companies is for complete secrecy and confidentiality. These organizations keep all compensation information under tight lock-and-key. In the middle, there are organizations who disclose some information on pay rationale in a broader sense. They may disclose pay ranges for the individual’s role, inform employees on how market data is obtained, and/or they share details on the merit and bonus process.

While most organizations are not comfortable with full pay transparency, the trend is to move towards greater transparency, especially when it comes to providing rationale and decision methodology.

Embracing pay transparency may no longer be a choice. Consider:

  • The increased presence of public, self-reported salary sites – such as Glassdoor, or free on-line resources, such as Payscale. These sites provide employees with access to information they never used to have.
  • Greater requirements for pay equity to ensure equity for other traditionally disadvantaged groups – women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous people.

Pay transparency also holds organizations to a higher standard when it comes to compensation decision making. With transparency comes accountability and increased fairness.

By enhancing pay transparency, organizations can more readily earn employee trust.

LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENT: Pay Transparency Measure

Effective January 1, 2021, federally regulated employers, with 100 or more employees, were required under the Employment Equity Act to report their salary data in a way that shows aggregated wage gap information. The intention behind these measures is to raise awareness of wage gaps experienced by women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and visible minorities working in federally regulated workplaces.

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    1. Wage gap information will need to be included as part of the annual reporting on employment equity for June 1, 2022 onwards.
    2. The calculation for “salary” has been amended and it is no longer a requirement that employers annualize salaries (i.e., calculate all remuneration paid for work performed by an employee in the form of salary, wages, commissions, tips bonuses and piece rate payments, rounded to the nearest dollar). Previously, salary did not include overtime wages. New specific data elements, that employers can extract from their payroll and HR information systems, will include hourly rate of pay, bonus pay, overtime pay, and overtime hours, to determine hourly wage, bonus, overtime hours, and overtime pay gaps.
    3. Employers are required to retain additional records, including: salary information (excluding overtime and bonus pay); the period over which a salary is paid; the number of hours worked that can be attributed to the salary earned; the bonus pay paid during a reporting period; overtime pay in the reporting period; the number of overtime hours worked in which the overtime pay can be attributed.

Pay Predictability

There is a lot of research around the psychological importance of predictability. In essence, predictability helps foster a sense of security. If we consider the desire for predictability in pay, that sense of security becomes even greater as pay quite literally helps provide the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – water, food, shelter.

Even if organizations are providing base-line measures to ensure “survival”, employees who feel disconnected from their pay, or who don’t understand how it is calculated or earned, will most certainly not be working towards the organization’s desired outcomes.

Simply put, wage and bonus plans are put in place to drive certain behaviours that ultimately lead to larger goals. Compensation then becomes an opportunity to communicate:

  • What is important to the company?
  • What are the expectations of you and your role?
  • How will you be rewarded if those expectations are met?
    Unpredictability in pay leads to disconnection from these important factors.

With frequent pay types, such as weekly or monthly earnings, pay plans should be so simple that at any time, a person can pick up a calculator and figure out what they are going to earn on their pay cheque. This is how they predict their earnings. This is how they feel secure and confident in their income.

Other factors that help promote predictability in income include: regularity of pay increases, frequency of bonus payment, and understanding who is involved in pay decisions and how they are made.

A great deal of good will can be earned by saying what you’ll do and doing what you say.

Creating a Comprehensive Compensation Strategy

Before you can be more transparent or offer predictability within compensation, you should first be certain that your pay practices are sound and worth sharing.

In Trucking, employee pay represents one of the largest marginal costs within an organization.  A well thought out strategy can support not only the company’s bottom line but also can contribute to an employee’s satisfaction and wellbeing.

A trend we are seeing is fleet employers moving towards a more simplified, pay-by-the-hour model. In Trucking HR Canada’s Guide report The Road Ahead: Addressing Canada’s Trucking and Logistics Industry Labour Shortages it was noted that between 2018 and 2020, more than one in five (21%) long-haul employers reported having changed the pay structure for their truck drivers, with three quarters of them abandoning mileage pay. This change definitely helps with predictability and transparency but does it help drive the company goals and desired employee behaviours? That is something that will be unique to each fleet employer. Creating a comprehensive compensation strategy will ensure you are making strategic pay decisions based on your company’s current state and desired goals. In doing so, keep in mind the real labour market challenges and employee perceptions.

6 Steps to a Robust Program

Developing a robust compensation program includes the following steps:

1. Create a Compensation Philosophy

A compensation philosophy is the foundation for any compensation strategy. It is the organization’s formal, documented approach to what they want to achieve through compensation, why it’s important and how they will spend their budget to make that happen. When done well, the compensation philosophy provides a framework for decision making.

2.Define the budget

It’s important to clearly understand what funds are available for compensation. This can be expressed as flat amount or as a percentage of revenue or profit. Expressing the budget as a percentage of revenue or profit better allows for changes (up or down) in business performance. As part of the budget, it’s important to determine when and how pay increases are given and what percentage of the budget is allocated to base pay vs. variable pay.

3. Determine Pay Structures

Pay structures provide a framework for the hierarchy of roles and the associated value, in terms of pay, that an individual who works within that role will be paid. There are a number of pay structures types that can be used, such as pay bands, pay grades or salary ranges. In order to determine where a position falls within the pay structure, you may need to perform a job analysis. A job analysis allows you to really understand the skills and competencies required to perform well in a job, as well as the expectations of a role. See the Job Bank of Canada link for more information on how to conduct a job analysis and create comprehensive job descriptions.

4. Develop Pay Practices

When hiring, promoting or adjusting pay, ensure you have standardized practices to ensure a consistent approach throughout the organization. It’s important to consider and define how your company approaches compensation decisions throughout the employee lifecycle. Considerations like – What is the hiring range for new employees? How frequently are jobs re-evaluated or assessed against the market? How often do we provide merit increases and how are they decided?

5. Create Necessary Policies

Policies related to the organizations pay practices may be required for both employee communication purposes and to ensure adherence, equity and effective decision making throughout the organization. Some policies that are related to the company’s compensation strategy include: paid holidays, time-off, pay-advances, and bonus payment terms.

6. Monitor and Review

A well defined compensation strategy is fluid. Be prepared to make modifications and adjustments over time. That doesn’t mean re-hauling an established program annually, but it may mean implementing annual checks and balances to ensure legal compliance and competitive positioning.

 

The Importance of Communication

As we learned earlier, employee perceptions of pay aren’t inherently positive. Strong communication practices can help counter those perceptions of mistrust.

Employers can benefit from a strong compensation communication plan by:

  • Providing awareness of company goals, priorities and expectations.
  • Motiving employees to meet or exceed those expectations.
  • Informing on difficult decisions to enhance understanding and acceptance.
  • Recognizing the hard work and success of individuals and teams.

Communication Best Practices

Compensation communication can (and should) include many methods. Like any other communication strategy, there is a need to identifying the who, when, why and how behind each communication. It is also important to approach messages, even positive ones, with sensitivity as pay is personal. Taking a one-size-fits-all tactic may backfire.

Below are some best practices to consider when it comes to compensation communication.

Share Company Results & Goals

Employees who feel connected to the overall performance results and goals of the organization are more engaged and motivated. By sharing your company’s progress with employees, and importantly, by communicating how the individual can benefit from this success financially (if applicable), will help employees understand how what they do contributes to this success.

Some ideas on how to share goals:

  • During employee on-boarding
  • Quarterly Calls
  • Monthly Dashboards
  • Employee Newsletters
  • CEO Updates
  • Manager Update

Grant Access to Information

Employees who have access to compensation data and information will have higher levels of trust and understanding. This is a critical factor to increased transparency and predictability. It also helps to ensure employee expectations are managed. Some examples of where you can provide more access to information includes:

  • Making pay structures available to everyone.
  • Clearly articulating when and how pay increases take place.
  • Providing market data for comparable industries and occupations.
  • Distributing bonus plan documents that include information on how bonuses are calculated.

Explain How & Why

No matter the decision or change in compensation, it’s recommended that details on how and why they were made be provided. This is the context that will lead to higher acceptance and understanding of decisions. For example, instead of just saying you received a pay increase of 2%, provide information on how the 2% was determined. “The company created an overall merit budget that took into account market information, cost-of-living data, our last year’s results and this year’s budget tolerance. We then determined individual raises based on performance appraisal scores.”

Demonstrate Opportunity

A good compensation communication strategy will include ways to show employees what their earnings potential is. This could mean how and when they can earn more in current roles (through merit increases, training and development, or bonus plans) and it also means showing them the earning potential available in future roles. Be sure you don’t inflate the opportunity or earnings potential or take a one-size-fits-all approach. Managing expectations is important or you can easily tip from motivation to de-motivation and frustration.

The Need for Manager Training

The majority of communication about compensation takes place between managers and their direct reports, yet managers sometimes have no training on how to do this effectively. Often as a result, managers are uncomfortable having pay discussions. They may actually have their own mis-perceptions or bias about the employer pay brand or how their team members’ salaries compare to others within the company or in the market. Pave the way for smoother compensation discussions by educating managers on the compensation philosophy and by providing context and transparency on decision making.

Preparing for a One-to-One Compensation Discussion

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    Prepare

    • Schedule the discussion in a quiet, private and relaxed setting where there won’t be interruptions.
    • Review your notes and any additional information you have – for example, market data, the company’s decision-making rationale, or the organizations financial situation.
    • Jot down some of the key speaking points.
    • Ensure there is enough time scheduled to have a meaningful discussion.

    Conducting the Meeting

    • Explain the reason for meeting.
    • Provide details of the decision – including how and why it was decided.
    • Be honest and clear when delivering the message.
    • Ask questions of the employee to ensure understanding.
    • Allow time for the employee to ask questions.
    • If you don’t know how to respond to a question, don’t. Advise you will follow up and make sure that you do.
    • Provide information to the employee about how they can positively impact their compensation (if possible).
    • Express your commitment and support to the employee’s success.

    Follow-up

    • Allow an opportunity for the employee to follow up at a later date if there are lingering questions.
    • Provide details of the discussion in writing.

Total Rewards Statements

Most employees equate their pay to the amount that they see on their pay cheque, or worse, the net amount that is deposited into their bank account on pay day, grossly under-stating the true picture. Total Rewards Statements (or Total Compensation Statements), provide organizations with a great opportunity to outline the full financial investment they make in employees.

Total Rewards Statements can be designed in a number of ways. Companies should consider what they want to include on a Total Rewards Statement in order to remind employees of their true earnings. It also provides employers with an opportunity to reinforce key messages about the company and their compensation strategy.

Once designed, it’s important to capitalize on this communication opportunity. Often employers print and mail the statements, but consider also taking the time to talk through the statement with each employee.

HR Trends & Compensation Impacts

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

As mentioned earlier, the Federal Government has implemented greater transparency into the Employment Equity Act to ensure inequities in pay for frequently disadvantaged groups are highlighted. Even if your company is not mandated by these legislated requirements, it’s helpful to take a closer look into your pay practices to ensure they are equitable and fair. Generating compensation data (like that required for employment equity reporting) will allow you to identify any gaps and implement strategies to course correct. Transparency also helps ensure that managers are making fair and equitable pay decisions.

Digitization & Automation

The on-going introduction of digitization and automation within the workplace has, and will continue to fundamentally change the way we work. The skills required to successfully perform in a role could look quite different than they did even five years ago. Companies will benefit from more frequently performing job evaluations. The re-evaluation could cause a major shift to your pay ranges. Be sure to understand how those shifts impact overall budgets.

Flexibility is the Future

One of the most obvious forced changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic was the mass movement to remote work for job functions that could. A continued flexible work environment could bring with it the need for revised compensation strategies. Increased opportunity for remote work opens the possibility to recruit from anywhere. Traditionally, companies take work location into consideration when assigning pay grades or defining pay ranges for certain roles. Many fleet employers already take work location into consideration, typically adjusting pay rates based on where the company worksite is located, or where the employee is recruited to work from. The question now becomes, should work location still be a factor if individuals are working from home? Will the employee’s location now matter more? Should location even come into play? Companies may now look to national averages to inform compensation decisions, rather than regional data. If changes are being made to your company’s talent strategy, consider how they also impact your company’s compensation benchmarking and pay ranges.

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP)

 

 

 

Workplace Wellness: A Holistic Approach to Your Employees’ Wellbeing

Introduction

Companies have long been responsible for the on-the-job health and safety of their employees. This responsibility however is now changing for employers as a greater realm of care for the overall wellness (physical and mental) of employees – both on and off the clock - is being considered.

The shift is the result of changing employee expectations, updates in legislation and the understanding by employers that a healthy workforce brings with it some real and quantifiable advantages.

Within the trucking and logistics industry, there is much to consider when it comes to the overall health and wellbeing of your workforce. In some circumstances, the risk factors, and therefore the solutions, are the same. In other cases, it is important to understand that the contributing factors that can deplete an employee’s wellbeing are different and therefore, targeted actions to address those key areas of concern may be required.

We see leading fleet employers taking proactive measures to understand how their workplace plays a contributing role in employee wellbeing and implementing programs to improve employee health.

The following guide can help fleet employers fully realize the potential of their staff by providing ways in which trucking and logistics companies can promote employee wellness and reap the benefits of a fully engaged, healthy workforce.

Benefits of Wellness Programs

Corporate wellness programs are designed to include a holistic and comprehensive approach to employee wellbeing, through tactics such as: training and education, the introduction of self-care practices, risk identification and mitigation, disease prevention, and increased access to health care practitioners.

Properly designed wellness programs can have a great impact on your company, including direct financial benefits. Some examples of the advantages of introducing a wellness program include:

Reduced absenteeism – Primarily by taking a pro-active approach to employee whole-health, and addressing the reasons for missed work, absenteeism is reduced. In a study to establish Canadian benchmarks on the return on investment (ROI) for workplace wellness conducted by Sun Life Financial and Ivey Business School, it was demonstrated that wellness programs can reduce absenteeism by 1.5-1.7 days per employee, per year.

Decreased benefits costs – The improvement in employee health and wellness has a direct impact on employer benefits costs – both through the reduction in utilization rates impacting premiums and in the reduction of disability claims.

Lower Presenteeism – Employees who are well, both physically and mentally perform better. The concept of “Presenteeism” refers to reduced productivity by employees who are present, at-work, but otherwise distracted or hindered in some way due to a health problem. This can include stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, or physical ailments. Wellness programs address the factors that cause presenteeism, therefore increasing employee productivity.

Greater job satisfaction – Job satisfaction can be directly linked to on-the-job performance improvements.  Supporting employees in their job satisfaction can therefor impact customer satisfaction, employee engagement and innovation.

Reduced Turnover – An employer’s commitment to the health of their workforce goes a long way in creating trust and respect from employees. Moreover, the added perks and benefits that a wellness program brings could be enough to make employees second-guess leaving your company for the competition.

Employee Wellness – Key Impacts

Employees continue to face pressures and strains—both at work, and at home—that impact their overall wellbeing. Recently, increases in the use of technology, the heightened pace of work in general, along with the pandemic, have all played contributing roles. Truly understanding the factors that are at play can help organizations better recognize and understand what employees are dealing with and how to address the areas that will lead to the greatest gain.

Contributing Factors in the Workplace

When one thinks of an employee wellness program, our minds typically race to health benefits, days off policies, and employee assistance programs. Consider however that employee wellness is impacted by many factors, including how we work, who we interact with, and what stresses we face.

With this in mind, employers may want to think more broadly about what contributes to workplace wellness.

Below is a list of broader workplace factors that have the ability to both positively or negatively impact an employee’s wellbeing, depending on how they are addressed.

  • Control over one’s work
  • Autonomy
  • Leadership competence
  • Opportunities to collaborate
  • Physical work demands
  • Psychological work demands
  • Workplace design
  • Amount of support
  • Ability to innovate
  • Recognition of good work
  • Feeling included
  • Hours of work and overtime
  • Ability to take time off
  • Access to information
  • Sense of purpose
  • Realistic or unrealistic job demands
  • Social support networks

Taking the time to review and assess which of these factors are present within your work environment will be helpful before you begin any work on a wellness program.

Other Stressors

Outside factors that employees experience within their personal lives also play a role in their wellbeing and as such, these factors impact how employees show up at work. Employers who recognize that employees are whole humans will be better equipped to introduce programs and initiatives that may not be directly related to the workplace, but that will most certainly improve employee contributions while they are there.

Examples of stressors that employees may be facing outside of work, that impact them at work, include:

  • Care requirements for children, aging parents or ailing family members
  • Financial strain
  • Obesity
  • Addiction issues
  • Mental health concerns
  • Chronic illness
  • Isolation
  • Bereavement
  • Lack of support
  • Sleep deprivation

Contributing Factors to Driver Wellness

Drivers’ unique working conditions—being on the road—has the potential to negatively impact both the physical and mental health of this important employee group. These unique factors also increase the responsibilities of an employer to consider aspects of life that might otherwise be thought of as “personal”.

There is an increased need for industry employers to address the health challenges that may result from choosing this  occupation. A good first step is to understand what types of health challenges may be encountered.

Physical Health Factors

There are many factors that negatively contribute to a driver’s physical health in the course of their daily job duties. For example, sitting for long periods, lack of access to healthy food options, and limited opportunity for exercise. These stressors are even more prevalent for long-haul drivers. Some of the physical factors to be aware of are:

Diet

Life on the road does not lend itself to nutritional, healthy eating. Whether making their food choices based on limiting stops, duration of stops, ease of eating while driving, or taste, making the most nutritional decision can be very difficult for truck drivers.

Healthy options are limited on the road in general and they are virtually non-existent at the places where drivers already stop for fuel. The options also typically take longer to eat and can be much messier and more dangerous to try to consume while driving. As a result, many drivers experience unhealthy eating habits and diets that are high in sodium and devoid of fruits and vegetables. A US based survey, conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety, indicated that long-haul drivers, when compared to the average adult worker, are twice as likely to be obese. This puts the very workers who form a cornerstone of our industry at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, cancer, joint and back pain, and stroke. We can assume that the same applies for many of our Canadian drivers.

Ergonomics

Being in any position for a prolonged time can have detrimental effects on the body. Long-haul truck drivers spend several hours in the same seat with very little opportunity to switch positions or stretch. Consequently, drivers may complain of general discomfort, muscle cramps and suffer from lower back pain. The impact of driving a truck on the body can extend outside of cab as well, resulting in long-term effects from poor ergonomics such as: imperfect posture, stress, tension, and lingering numbness in the extremities.

For more information on ergonomic impacts for drivers, see the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s Fact sheet on Driving and Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Lack of Exercise

Exercise is an important ingredient in overall wellness. According to the World Health Organization, an active lifestyle has been linked to the prevention of noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers) and contributes to improved mental health. Other sources, such as the Government of Canada, site lower incidences of type 2 diabetes and a more robust immune system as benefits to an active lifestyle.

Exercise is a valuable countermeasure against many of the negative effects truck drivers face due to the nature of their work. Unfortunately, the rigours of long-haul trucking, coupled with the pressures of delivering on-time, can combine to keep exercise way down on a driver’s list of priorities.

Sleep

Sleep is an important contributor to an individual’s overall well-being. In addition to allowing the body to recover and rest, getting enough sleep has been linked by Johns Hopkins University to improved cardiovascular health. Moreover, sleep deprivation has a number of negative impacts including, but not limited to, a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, as well as decreased alertness and concentration. For long-haul truck drivers, finishing the trip is often prioritized over getting sufficient sleep. Helping your team understand the importance of sleep will have benefits for the drivers themselves as well as the company at large. Tired drivers have slower reaction times, become more easily distracted, and are at greater risk for being at fault for accidents. When it comes to sleep, employee wellness is company wellness.

Proactive Health Care

Being on-the-road can mean skipped doctor’s visits or other proactive medical appointments that can help prevent long-term or chronic illnesses – such as massage therapy or chiropractic appointments. These skipped visits may result in otherwise preventable illness, ailment, or disease.

Mental Health Factors

In Trucking HR Canada’s publication Gearing Up for Workplace Mental Health, research suggests that drivers are at risk of several occupational-health-induced conditions. These include, but are not limited to, loneliness (27.9%), depression (26.9%), chronic sleep disturbances (20.6 %) and anxiety (14.5%) (Shattell M., Apostolopoulos Y., et al, 2012).

More detail on some of the contributing factors to driver’s mental health are outlined below.

Isolation

Life on the road even with access to technology can be lonely. In addition to the inherent isolation faced by long-haul truck drivers, the return home does not guarantee an end to the loneliness. The pseudo-nomadic lifestyle of a long-haul driver can negatively impact their sense of community belonging, being away frequently from friends and family, which can result in poor health outcomes.

For instance, in Sense of Community and Belonging and Health in Canada: A Regional Analysis the authors conclude, “that there was a strong and consistent association between health and sense of belonging, even when controlling for geography and socio-economic status. In particular, mental health and life stress were strong determinants.”

Stress

Commercial truck drivers work in a high-stress environment. Their job requires them to meet tight schedules for deliveries. With so much time alone on the road, the stress of a tight timeline can become internalized by drivers. Moreover, it’s not just company-imposed stresses that can occupy a driver’s mind. Financial difficulties, health concerns, and domestic issues can all be exacerbated by a life on the road. With very little opportunity to find a safe outlet for these stresses, they can take a serious toll on a driver’s mental health.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Whether a contributing factor to poor mental health, or a by-product of it, substance abuse has a significant negative impact on employee wellness. In one worldwide study reported by Reuters Health researchers found, “widely varying estimates – based both on drivers’ own reports and on drug testing – but overall use of mind-altering substances was high and linked to poor working conditions.” Drivers looking for an escape from the stresses of their lives may turn to opiates or marijuana, while others seeking a chemical boost may abuse amphetamines. Though uncomfortable, it is important for logistics companies to recognize the presence of addiction and substance abuse on the road.

Understanding Your Legal Obligations

Typically, employee wellness programs go beyond the minimum legal requirements for workplace health and safety, however, it is important to consider these legislative requirements when reviewing current practices or implementing anything new.

Some of the legislative requirements that you should be aware of when implementing a workplace wellness program are:

Canada Occupational Health & Safety Regulations – Employee wellbeing at work is closely tied to health and safety, it may be impossible to address one without addressing the other. Additionally, health and safety legislation, both at federal and provincial levels, is evolving to include governance for circumstances that were not always covered and that may seem more personal than occupation based in nature. For example, harassment and violence in the workplace (which can also include observance of workplace risks from domestic violence threats) and mental health. Knowing your obligations is of critical importance.

The Human Rights Act – Organizations have a Duty to Accommodate under human rights legislation – both for federally and provincially regulated employers. The duty to accommodate means that certain accommodations, or adaptive ways of working, may be required in order to employ some people. The duty to accommodate applies to all prohibitive grounds and may include things like, implementing physical structures to accommodate workstation requirements for persons with disabilities, allowing additional time off or creating flexible work schedules. The Government of Canada provides a detailed process outline for managers to help support employees and prevent discrimination.

The Canadian Labour Code – The Canadian Labour Code, or for provincially regulated employers the province’s employment or labour standards legislation, dictates certain minimum responsibilities that an employer must implement to ensure compliance. Some of the key standards that are relevant to workplace wellness include: hours of work and overtime restrictions, mandatory rest periods, protected leaves, and minimum pay requirements.

Taking Action – Implementing a Wellness Program

Step One – Senior Level Commitment
Like with most initiatives, success depends on senior level buy-in and commitment, which in this case is two-fold. It requires demonstrated acceptance to make the necessary changes within the company and to be willing to lead by example. Seeing senior leaders participate in the wellness initiatives can be very powerful and encourage others to participate aswell.

Step Two – Assessing Your Workplace & Workforce
A comprehensive assessment of your workplace and your workforce will help identify areas where your company is already doing well and uncover areas where improvement can be made.

The following questions can help you with your assessment.

  • Is there an openness/acceptance for a healthy workplace – by senior leaders, managers and all employees?
  • What policies and programs do we currently have in place to promote wellbeing (e.g. review time off policies, flexible work practices, group benefits plans, EAP offerings, and health spending accounts)?
  • Are there programs that help promote work/life balance? What are they?
  • Do you have programs that help address employee mental health?
  • What are some of the key metrics that help inform on employee wellness (e.g. turnover, attendance, insurance experience ratings, EAP utilization, and overtime usage)?
  • Review workplace culture indicators, taking into account contributing factors to workplace wellness.
  • Review the company’s health and safety practices for clues on where workplace hazards might cause wellness challenges.
  • Does your workplace encourage physical fitness? How?
  • Does your workplace encourage healthy nutrition? How?
  • What other barriers may exist that could impede your team’s ability to make healthy choices.

Engage employees in this process to ensure you have an understanding of their needs, attitudes and preferences. This can be done via employee survey, through one-to-one discussions, by conducting focus groups, implementing pulse checks, or a combination of them all.

Step Three – Prioritize & Implement Focused Actions

Consider the top needs identified within the Assessment (for both the workplace and the workforce) and prioritize a few focused actions. Understanding any budgetary restrictions will also be beneficial.

Some tips to ensure success include:

  • Don’t over commit. Be realistic about what the organization and the team can tolerate.
  • Consider taking a phased approach to initiatives.
  • Make sure the program includes knowledge gain and skill building components.
  • Assign a program lead, or team, to ensure on-going accountability.
  • Listen to feedback and adjust the program as needed.

Step Four – On-Going Evaluation

Implementing an on-going evaluation process will help to  ensure that adjustments to the plan are made when needed if the desired outcomes are being achieved. This is also important measuring success and demonstrating ROI. Success might afford you better buy-in and potentially bigger budgets. When evaluating the success of a wellness program, consider including the following:

  • Process Evaluation – participation rates, levels of interest, participant satisfaction.
  • Impact Evaluation – short-term changes in attitude, behaviours and skills.
  • Outcome Evaluation – longer-term impact on financial and health measures.

Best Practices in Employee Wellness

Balanced wellness programs include a variety of efforts that can address the unique challenges and concerns of your employees, thus supporting their whole-health. The following are proven best practices, for employers of any size.

Supporting Physical Health

Diet

Maintaining a health body weight is an important factor in a person’s overall physical health. The following are ways fleet employers can help promote healthy eating at their workplaces:

  • Encouraging employees to bring their own healthy food options to work and on the road. Providing coolers in trucks and refrigerators in offices can help promote these efforts.
  • Leading by example by selecting healthy eating options at company events.
  • Providing resources on healthy weights and nutrition.
  • Working with a nutritionist to provide healthy on-the-road meal options, design customized meal plans and provide education to employees on healthy eating.
  • Offering access to weight management programs or apps (such as: weight watchers, noom or My Fitness Pal).
  • Providing gift cards and vouchers to healthy restaurants.
  • Partnering with meal delivery services (like Good Hello Fresh, Chefs Plate or GoodFood) to offer company discounts or provide employees with at-home healthy meal kits

Ergonomics

Employers have a Health and Safety obligation to ensure workplace ergonomics are acceptable—both for driving and non-driving employees. Below are some strategies to help instill proper ergonomics:

  • Conducting regular ergonomic assessments of company work-stations.
  • Providing employees with tips on proper ergonomics for the type of work they perform.
  • Reminding remote workers of the importance of ergonomics in their at-home set ups.
  • Including an ergonomic check-list in the cab of trucks.
  • Implementing a process that allows employees to report concerns about the ergonomics of their work-stations.

Some good resources for Driving and Ergonomics include:

Fitness

Physical activity has positive impacts on employees’ current health as well as on the prevention of chronic health problems. Fleet employers can help promote physical fitness by:

  • Providing wellness spending accounts that help re-imburse costs of gym memberships or fitness equipment.
  • Engaging with personal trainers to conduct fitness assessments, group fitness classes or record job-specific fitness routines or exercises (for example, for drivers).
  • Encouraging the participation in fitness through company contests.
  • Creating support mechanisms by creating a fitness accountability buddy system.
  • Offering access to fitness apps.
  • Providing portable fitness equipment – such as bands and skipping ropes – in trucks.
  • Provide other fitness resources, such as fitness routines, stretching guides and no-equipment workout suggestions.
  • Encouraging fitness throughout the day by starting meetings with stretches, encouraging walking meetings and providing company-wide fitness breaks.

Proactive Health Measures

Taking a proactive approach to one’s health allows employees to address minor health concerns before they become major health conditions. Organizations can support the proactive health of their team members by:

  •  Including paramedical offerings within the company benefits programs.
  • Providing access to tele-health services, including virtual doctor’s appointments.
  • Reminding employees to proactively seek preventative medical appointments.
  • Offering a concierge service to help employees book their medical appointments or identify providers along their route.

Sleep

Sleep is a critical requirement for the productive engagement and on-going safety of employees. Employers can help support the healthy sleep habits of their teams by:

  • Adhering to realistic hours of work & overtime requests.
  • Setting limits on daily maximums for kilometres travelled.
  • Allowing for overnight stops within driver routes with hotel allowances.
  • Ensuring client delivery terms don’t jeopardize driver sleep ability.
  • Providing comfortable sleeping conditions (pillows, sleep masks, essential oils) for travelling employees and within trucks.
  • Giving access to meditation and sleep apps (such as Calm, Sleep Score, and Sleep Cycle).
  • Providing resources for healthy sleep habits.
  • Informing on the risks of lack of sleep.

Supporting Mental Health

Supporting Mental Health

  •  

    • 55% of Trucking HR Canada’s 2021 Top Fleet Employers celebrate mental health initiatives.
    • 67% of Trucking HR Canada’s 2021 Top Fleet Employers train employees on stress management and resilience.

    Trucking HR Canada’s Top Fleet Employer Program is a national program that recognizes trucking and logistics companies who meet HR standards of excellence. Each year companies undergo a rigorous application process, but only the best are recognized as Top Fleet Employers. Become a Top Fleet Employer 

Workplace Stress

It is important for employers to address the at-work stressors that contribute to on-the-job stress.

Examples of approaches you can take are:

  • Conducting employee engagement surveys.
  • Conducting management training.
  • Giving frequent updates on the financial success and stability of the company.
  • Reviewing job demands and work control.
  • Setting realistic productivity targets.
  • Allowing for flexible work arrangements.
  • Providing feedback – both positive and constructive.

Financial Stress

Stress caused by financial strain can be onerous on an employee’s mental health.

Some suggestions on how employers can address this are:

  • Providing financial planning services
  • Hosting financial planning seminars.
  • Offering RRSP match or pension programs.
  • Ensuring there is transparency and predictability in work schedules and pay.
  • Compensating for overtime.
  • Having second deposit options for savings through payroll.
  • Updating employees on the financial success and future of the company.

At-Home Stress
Balancing at-home and work demands can lead to higher levels of stress for employees.

Some strategies to help address at-home stress include:

  • Providing company-funded regular and emergency daycare options (like Kids & Company).
  • Sharing resources on where to find care giving options, for children, parents, family members who are ill.
  • Allowing for flexibility in work schedules for appointments and home care requirements to help employees achieve work/life balance.
  • Updating employees on the protected leaves that are available to them.
  • Subsidizing or providing resources for house cleaning, meal preparation, lawn care, or other at-home responsibilities that may increase the burden of the employee or their loved ones while they are on the road.

Isolation

Community is important. The feeling of isolation, especially for long-haul drivers can be significant.

Fleet employers can help reduce this by:

  • Compensating drivers for unlimited data plans to allow them to stay connected to family members while away.
  • Creating opportunities to connect drivers with each other.
  • Organizing events for employees and their family members to help create community within your company. Invite family members of employees who are on the road.
  • Creating company social media channels for employees and their family.
  • Providing family “route maps” so that driver’s children can stay connected and know where their parent is.
  • Assigning check-in buddies who frequently touch base with drivers just to say hello.

Substance Abuses and Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction is a serious concern for anyone. For drivers, it could be deadly.

Companies can help provide support by:

  • Providing information on where employees can get help. The Government of Canada offers this Resource Guide.
  • Offering free tobacco cessation programs (directly or through the EAP/EFAP).
  • Providing resources to help employees learn about addition and substance abuse.
  • Training supervisors and managers on warning signs.
  • Allowing for job protected time-off for employees to seek help.

Other Mental Health Support Measures

In addition to the best practices outlined above, fleet employers can also support the mental health of their employees by:

  • Implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Employee Family Assistance Program (EFPA).
  • Increasing the per practitioner maximums for mental health care professionals within group benefits programs.
  • Eliminating the need for physician referrals for mental health care practitioners.
  • Helping to remove the stigma of mental health by participating in National mental health programs (such as The Working Mind Program, the Elephant in the Room campaign, Not Myself Today and Healthy Trucker).
  • Adopt the National Standards of Canada for psychological health and safety in the workplace.
  • Providing Mental Health First Aid training to managers and employees
  •  

    For more information on mental health in the workplace, visit Trucking HR Canada’s Gearing Up for Mental Health: Best Practices and Resources for Employers.

    Visit this resource to:

    • Learn more about what and how best practices are being implemented amongst THRC’s Top Fleet Employers
    • Access resources to support and address mental health in your workplace.

Promoting Knowledge, Awareness & Acceptance

A big part of creating a wellness culture is ensuring there is on-going knowledge sharing and awareness activities. This helps to promote the organization’s commitment to and ultimately inherent acceptance a wellness culture. All support the creation of trust needed for employees to come forward with observations or concerns – personal or otherwise.
Some ways in which you can promote knowledge sharing, enhance awareness and promote acceptance include:

Educate Managers – As the first, and most frequent point-of-contact for employees, it is important that managers both understand why you are implementing the company’s wellness program and what the key elements within it are. Education may be required to ensure managers demonstrate the necessary compassion required to fully support their teams.

Lunch and Learns – Employers can offer lunch and learn meetings on wellness topics that have been identified either through the organization’s wellness metrics or by your teams directly. Many Employee Assistance Program providers offer free lunch and learn sessions to their clients. Also consider having team members who are passionate about certain topics share their knowledge. That could include sessions on personal fitness, healthy eating, mindfulness practices or any other relevant topic.

Group Support Sessions –Allowing employees a safe space to share their experiences and concerns can be really beneficial. Depending on the topic area, this can be something that is conducted without facilitation (i.e., fitness or weight loss discussions, obtaining balance, dealing with elder care challenges, etc.) or if the topic is more sensitive, there may be a need to engage with an external expert (i.e. stress and anxiety, dealing with a cancer diagnosis, experiencing loss, etc.). Group Support Sessions can provide employees with the opportunity for both support and solutioning.

Individual or Group Coaching – In some circumstances, it may be worth while to offer group or individual coaching sessions to individuals who are dealing with a particularly difficult circumstance. Alternatively, you could provide access to coaching services at a discounted rate, or provide reimbursement through a wellness spending account. Provide a resource list so that employees know the options available to them.

Health Awareness Contests – This is a fun way to help employees make healthy lifestyle changes. Contests could include awareness factors—fact finding missions—inside of fun competitions between colleagues. Connect prizes to the contest. Some specific areas where this works well are with weight management, physical fitness goals and stress management.

Access to Healthy Lifestyle Resources – Providing easy access to resources that will help address or prevent some of the key wellness concerns within your company can go a long way. For example, you might consider having a wellness portal within your company’s intranet where both the company and users can post beneficial content. For those that work in shared workplace settings, there could be a bulletin board where printed resources are posted. Companies may also wish to invest in health and wellness apps that help keep employees educated and informed.

Integrate wellness into company events – Wellness needs to be experienced and the organization can help make that happen. Consider how wellness can be weaved into on-going practices and larger scale company events. For example, ensuring healthy menu options are available at all company events, including exercise into the workplace (walking meetings, body breaks, stretches in meetings), and starting company meetings with a wellness minute.

Communication Best Practices

Great programs are meaningless if nobody knows they exist. A key success factor for a robust workplace wellness plan is to spread the word throughout the organization. Below are some ideas on how you can communicate both the larger commitment and on-going wellness initiatives.

  • Include the program details in the new hire orientation process.
  • Create a quarterly health newsletter.
  • Invite senior leaders to share their personal wellness goals.
  • Provide flyers, pamphlets and brochures.
  • Educate managers on how to share the details of the program.
  • Invite employees to share their stories on a private social media channel.

The more the company talks about wellness, the more it will thrive within your organization.

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP)

 

Successful Management in the Changing World of Work: A Guide for Today’s Manager

Introduction

Managers are the backbone of a successful business. They plan, organize, oversee, evaluate, and lead the work of your company’s employees. In addition to managing people, managers are also responsible for their own day-to-day technical and operational activities.

There is a long list of management skills required in today’s workplace. To remain competitive and successfully manage in this shifting world of work, managers may find that they are regularly trying to update and improve their skillsets.

This guide provides information on how the expectations of managers have changed and what  skills are increasingly needed to align with today’s practices and modern approaches.

Management Practices are Changing - How and Why

Management practices have been evolving over the past 10-15 years to deal with emerging and ongoing recruitment and retention challenges, advances in technology, and the changing values and needs of the workforce. The response to the pandemic also produced an immediate need to adjust and embrace new ways of leading.

The Pandemic’s Impact

In March 2020, the spread of Covid 19 was relentless and businesses scrambled to alter how they delivered products and services to customers while accommodating imposed closures and restrictions.  Managers also had to pivot and were immediately faced with the challenge of managing people within a new context (e.g., working remotely). Broadly speaking, the following trends emerged:

  • Managing flexible work arrangements

The pandemic introduced the need for managers to shift from seeing work being done to trusting that employees were working, productive and achieving results. Remote work also required managers to be efficient with technology, including online collaboration tools, messaging apps and virtual meeting platforms.

  • Increased sensitivity and focus on employee health and wellness

The shift to remote work resulted in employees working in often less-than-ideal workspaces at home. There were added pressures placed on them, including, dealing with home schooling, and navigating increasingly blurred lines between personal and work life. For many there was also an increased sense of being disconnected and lonely. As an ‘essential service’ the trucking and logistics sector has many employees that can’t work from home so there was a heightened stress and anxiety related to contracting the virus.

More than ever, managers are required to assess and provide support to those struggling with the effects of the pandemic. The post-COVID-19 workplace will not look the same either, managers will have to adjust their skillsets accordingly and companies will benefit from supporting these adjustments.

The Impact of Advancing Technology

Advancing technologies will continue to have an impact on trucking and logistics operations.

  • The effect of new communication and collaboration tools

Some of the collaboration and communication tools surfacing from the increased adoption of remote work structures can benefit how organizations manage drivers. Technology can enhance how drivers meet and interact with their teams, have their work evaluated, share results, and communicate challenges. Adopting these tools can lead to stronger relationships and higher productivity. Training managers on these tools isn’t generally a one size fits all, meeting managers where they are as it relates to technology is a helpful approach, providing guidance and support as needed.

  • Larger candidate pools and diverse workforces

Changed perceptions on where and how we work opens the possibility to attract talent from outside local regions. Governments have been making strides, expanding communication networks so that rural and remote communities have access to the internet and more stable connections. This will increase a company’s ability to hire from these areas. Remote Access to technology can also remove barriers for those populations that have a disability or mobility issues. Technology provides the opportunity to attract and build a more diverse workforce. As a result, managers benefit from building skills and knowledge around diversity and inclusion.

  • Improved efficiencies and access to information

Implementation of workforce management systems and the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) has provided organizations with the enhanced capacity to manage, store and access information about their operations. As platforms evolve, and companies incorporate these practices into their business strategy, managers will benefit from greater access to data and metrics. This allows for improved decision making, increased efficiencies and managing to results.

  •  

    Explore the Innovative Practices of our TFE’s in the following areas:

    • Organizational Flexibility and Agility
    • Technological Transformation
    • Holistic Employee Wellness
    • Diversity Equity and Inclusion
    • Employee Engagement and Collaboration
    • Considerate Leadership

    Visit Innovating Our HR Practices – One Top Fleet Employer at a Time.

    Trucking HR Canada’s Top Fleet Employers (TFE) program recognizes positive change and innovation that support HR best practices within trucking and logistics. Our TFEs are leaders.

Employees Expectations Towards Work

Another key factor driving the need to re-evaluate management practices is the changing demands and expectations of employees.

For many employees, the pandemic provided an opportunity to re-evaluate priorities. With no commute, more time with family and a lived experience that proved they did not always need to be in the office to be productive – many want to retain some form of flexible work option. To attract and retain talent good managers are championing flexible work arrangements.

Employees want to work for companies where they can create, innovate, and collaborate with individuals that have different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. This will result in the delivery of more impactful and meaningful outcomes for the business and means that managers will need to foster diverse and inclusive environments.

Today’s employees are also looking for purpose in the work that they do. This has caused the growing need for companies to move towards values-based leadership practices and to support corporate social responsibility initiatives.

How well leaders understand these new desires, and respond and deliver on them, will ultimately set an organization apart.

  •  

    THRC has a better understanding for the types of expectations Millennials have of employers. Learn more about how to create a millennial friendly fleet in Trucking HR Canada’s Guide – Millennials Have Drive 2

Priorities for Today’s Manager

To be a successful manager in this new world, the following skills and competencies can be practiced.

Support Employee Well-Being

Workplace well-being are actions that help people feel their best: physically, mentally, socially, and financially. They are prioritized so that employees can more effectively perform their work. While HR, and the organization at large, has a big role in developing and maintaining these initiatives, there are many ways managers can support the overall well-being of their team members on a day-to-day basis.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Regularly check-ins with team members to see how they are doing.
  • Identify your own self-care needs.
  • Model self-care by sharing how you are taking care of yourself.
  • Co-ordinate opportunities for team members to connect and have informal conversations.
  • Connect employees with coaches, mentors, and buddies.
  • Encourage employees to take time away from work to prevent burnout.
  • Take extra care to sense who is struggling and may need extra support.
  • Know when to recommend a company Employee Assistance Program and have the contact information readily available.
  • Foster a sense belonging within your team, ensuring everyone feels respected, included, and connected to the goals of the organization.
  • Create an environment where people can feel safe and be their authentic selves. You can model authenticity by sharing a few appropriate stories of your own challenges.
  • Practice empathy towards the feelings of employees and be an open and available listener of their concerns. Understand that people react and deal with challenges differently.

Focus on Managing Results versus Managing Time

Managing and rewarding performance based on results is not new. However, with the increasing shift to remote and hybrid work models, the increased access to data, and evolving expectations of employees, focusing on results vs time is growing in importance. Here are some suggested best practices:

  1. Create and agree on clear objectives – Focus on what employees should be accomplishing. Establish objectives and discuss what successful outcomes will look like so everyone has a clear picture of the expected result and the timeline in which it should be completed.  Also ensure the employee understands how accomplishing their goals contributes to the success of the company. This will enhance employee engagement and satisfaction.
  2. Focus on outputs – Today’s work environment competes with the time employees need to manage personal and family needs. Enable and trust employees to complete their work in ways that are easiest and most productive for them. If they are getting the work done with a satisfactory result, does it matter how long they spent working on it or how they did it?
  3. Communicate regularly – Encourage regular status updates to ensure progress and address any barriers or challenges to meeting establish timelines.
  4. Evaluate results and provide feedback – When milestones and goals are achieved, review the results with the employee. Circle back to the original objective and discusses successes, challenges, and suggested improvements for next time.

These practices can be included as part of a formal performance appraisal program, or they can be documented and agreed to as part of a goal setting process. What’s most important is that both the employee and employer are clear on what should be accomplished and less focused on when and where the work is performed.

Provide Feedback

It is important for a manager to understand how to effectively give feedback. Feedback should be provided frequently, at least once every 7 days, and it should include both positive and constructive observations.

Employees want to know how they are doing. They also can’t improve or do more of what’s working if they don’t know what that is.

Below are some guidelines to help you provide better feedback:

  1. Be timely – Silence may be taken as lack of interest or mis-interpreted as a job well done. Acknowledge, and show appreciation for their efforts and successes. Likewise, if there is an issue, address it shortly after it occurred.
  2. Be specific – Feedback should leave the employee understanding what they did, why it was good/not-so-good, the impact their actions had on the company, their team, the client, and what they should do the same or differently next time.
  3. Listen – Utilize active listening techniques, acknowledging input, aim for understanding and encourage two-way dialogue. Be open to the employee’s ideas for improvement. Set a good example by being open to feedback from them as well.
  4. Follow through – Help develop employees by keeping them accountable for improvements. Revisit conversations to acknowledge if progress made and/or reinforce development plans.
  5. Demonstrate care – No matter what type of feedback is shared, it’s important to remain compassionate and caring. Feedback should be a source of positive motivation for an employee to either improve to or continue performing at an acceptable level. The tone by which feedback is shared can make a world of difference.

Enabling Employee Development and Growth

Change is constant. Today’s manager must ensure their team members are building skills and the knowledge required to keep up with these changes. A great manager will recognize and maximize employee strengths. They will also identify gaps and help employees close those gaps.

A growing number of employees expect to have training and development opportunities provided to them by their employer. They want to be successful, build their skills and continue to contribute to the organization in new ways. To support employee development, managers should consider:

  • Upskilling and reskilling – Upskilling is the process of improving a current skill set. Reskilling focuses on entirely new abilities, preparing an individual for steering his or her career in a different direction. There are numerous benefits to upskilling and reskilling, including: improving a company´s long-term perspectives, increasing productivity and internal mobility, and ensuring robust talent planning and retention.
  • Digitized approaches to learning – During the pandemic, there was a shift to virtual training. These methods of delivery will continue since it allows for flexibility, just in time learning and greater ability to tailor learning and development plans to the unique needs of the individual.
  • Cultivate a learning mindset – In addition to providing the encouragement and time for employees to take additional skills-building courses, provide the opportunity and support to take on more challenging projects.
  • Skills development for managers – As a leader in the 21st century, it is vital to constantly hone your craft and stay current in best practices. Leading by example in this area is powerful.
  • Coaching techniques – An effective manager-as-coach asks questions instead of providing answers, supports employees instead of judging them, and facilitates their development instead of dictating what must be done. It is also a way to spark insights and creativity in the other people. When people come up with their own solutions, they are more committed, and the fixes are more likely to be implemented. Additionally, this problem-solving experience helps individuals develop the self-confidence to solve similar problems on their own in the future.

It’s important to have on-going discussions with your team members to help identify what their goals are and to ensure you are providing them with development opportunities that align with those goals.  Organizations may want to implement individual development plans for employees within their organizations. These could include specific outlines of what their goals are, what the company sees as future opportunities for them, timelines and training needs.

  •  

    G = GOAL  -> What are you looking to achieve or accomplish?
    R = REALITY -> What’s happening right now to help or hinder your ability to achieve that goal?
    O = OPTIONS -> What are some actions you can take to help you realize this objective?
    W = WHAT’S NEXT -> What are you going to do about it and by when?

Creating a Culture of Learning

Organizations at-large have an opportunity to really drive a culture of learning through focused programs and on-going intention. In doing so, they can positively impact their retention rates, increase innovation and service levels and ultimately, benefit through increases to their bottom line.

Below are recommended best practices for industry managers to ensure a strategic approach to employee development is achieved.

Succession and Development Planning

Knowing the talent that exists in the company today, along with understanding what the future needs and potential gaps in the organization can impact your success. Best practices in this area include:

  • Creating a “future-focused” organization chart outlining the structure and positions that will be needed if the company’s growth and strategic objectives are achieved.
  • Conducting talent reviews to determine team member performance, potential, retention risks and growth desires. The 9-box performance grid is a great tool to help managers assess the performance/potential of their team.
  • Identifying emergency, interim successors for critical roles in addition to ideal successors.
  • Creating individual development plans for employees.
  • Implementing a formal management development program to proactively train future leaders.

Structured Training

By implementing a structured approach to the development of your team, you will not only enhance their skills and competencies, but you will also ensure the focus of the learning is in-line with the company’s goals and objectives. Some approaches might include:

  • Providing easy access to formal training programs in identified areas of need (consider this from a variety of perspectives such as: skills gaps, competencies, and functions).
  • Allocating training budgets for external courses.
  • Reimbursing membership fees and training opportunities through professional and industry associations.
  • Committing to on-going training on various topics that are important to the company. For example, you may hold monthly training sessions to address skills or competency gaps or to reinforce key messages.
  • Creating a learning resource center – through an LMS, or otherwise – where employees have access to a variety of self-directed courses.

Mentorship

Mentorship programs provide opportunities for development for both participants. The mentor is recognized for their hard work and expertise and provided a job enrichment opportunity and the person being mentored has access to learn from an established, credible employee in an authentic, personalized and non-threatening way. When implementing a mentorship program:

  • Identify high performing, tenured employees who have a positive impression of the company to act as mentors. Using the talent review to identify mentors is a good practice.
  • Identify high potential, high performing team members to be mentored. Using the talent review to identify candidates is a good practice.
  • Provide training to mentors on the intention and expected outcome of the program.
  • Provide feedback channels for both the mentors and people being mentored to ensure the program is meeting expectations.
  • Consider opportunities for employees to be mentored by members of the Senior Leadership Team.

Job Enrichment

Development doesn’t always require promotion. Employees can grow in the roles that they are currently in, and for some, that development is enough. Job enrichment opportunities allow employees to stretch and grow within their current roles, thus motivating and ultimately helping to retain them. Some examples and ideas include:

  • Allowing opportunities for employees to job shadow individuals in different departments.
  • Involving employees in company-wide cross-functional teams to address a specific need
  • Assigning stretch projects to individuals.

Learning Together

Don’t underestimate the value of knowledge your employees can provide each other. Creating opportunities for employees to learn together may help expedite learning and enhance team collaboration. Ideas include:

  • Communicating employee wins and lessons learned through a company newsletter.
  • Creating on-line learning platforms where employees can share key learnings on a variety of topics. This can be done through a company intranet site, a shared collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams, or through the company’s LMS.
  • Implementing a company book club – for leaders, or otherwise.
  • Maintaining regular meetings and discussion forums for people within similar roles or job levels.

On-Going Expectations of Today’s Manager

Despite changing and evolving requirements for managers, they must also continue to address and lead in areas that have traditionally been challenging for people in this role.

Developing Strong Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential. It’s even more important when guiding teams and lifting morale during times of change and uncertainty. Here are some recommendations:

  • Use different modes of communication, understanding that employees have different personality types and ways they prefer to take in and share information.
  • Apply active listening skills whether interacting in person or online. This ensures clarity in understanding, builds trust, and makes employees feel like they are being heard.
  • Communicate truthfully, clearly, and consistently. Embrace transparency and use straight talk with a positive tone. This approach builds a culture of trust with employees.
  • Support two-way conversations so that employees feel like they can speak up.
  • Communicate with kindness, empathy, and respect. Even when managers are frustrated, upset, or disappointed in an employee’s behaviour or performance, there is never an acceptable reason to yell, condescend or humiliate.

Practice Active Listening

  •  

    Be a great active listener by:

    Paying attention – Listen without distraction to what the person speaking is saying. When applicable, maintain eye contact and use body language to demonstrate understanding.

    Avoiding interrupting – Do not interrupt with thoughts, solutions or questions. Let the person finish their thoughts fully. Take notes if helpful to remind yourself what you would like to address.

    Seeking clarity – If something the person says is unclear, ask for additional details, examples or other information that will help you understand the message they are trying to relay. Do this when there is a natural pause in their speaking.

    Withholding judgement – Don’t impose judgement on the words or actions being described – even internally. This will help you avoid jumping to conclusions and missing important details or information that is counter to your judgement.

    Confirming what you heard – A great way to demonstrate that you were listening is to repeat back to the other party what you heard. Allow them the opportunity to correct anything that was mis-heard or to clarify and add details that might have been missed.

Managing Conflict

Conflict between employees is inevitable. Managers should work under the premise that every team member has a different set of personal goals and needs. The manager’s job is to mediate discussions and find a compromise that satisfies everyone so productivity can continue, and morale remains unaffected. Consider the following:

  • Take time to hear both sides of the story before making judgements or assumptions on what happened.
  • Address issues privately so that any/all parties involved have the chance to express their feelings and intentions in a safe environment. It also prevents bystanders from getting needlessly involved.
  • Identify the best medium to deal with the conflict. Perhaps an in-person chat or video call is easiest so that body language can be read, and difficult emotions can be expressed more easily.
  • Initiate the conversation by stating that a conflict occurred and reinforcing the fact that everyone should have a chance to express their feelings and understanding of the situation. Then stand back and let them have that chance.
  • Restate your understanding of the issues or conflict back to the individual. This allows the employee to make any corrections to misinterpretations.
  • “I” statements are key to conflict resolution. Position your thoughts as your thoughts.
  • Avoid placing blame or focus on emotion. Stick to the facts and seek solutions.
  • Know when it’s beyond your capability to resolve an issue. Engage with your leader or HR.
  • Avoid reacting in the moment to the situation. Do not immediately offer advice or solutions. Take a moment to pause and digest the events, then decide on next steps.
  • Follow up with a communication on next steps, or that will bring closure and confirm resolution of the issue.
  • Ensure you are being cognizant of differences in culture, gender, and perspectives of diverse team members. Don’t assume that certain reactions mean what you may interpret them to mean. For example, some cultures have a high level of respect for authority and they won’t challenge or clarify if an incorrect statement from an authority figure is made. That doesn’t mean that the statement is correct. Gain clarification of a situation through dialogue and by asking questions.
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    It’s important for managers to respond to any office conflict quickly and effectively. The organization has a legal responsibility to respond to any conflict situation that may be deemed as harassment.

    Trucking HR Canada has  resources to help guide you through what to do if there is a chance that the conflict has escalated to harassment.

Overcoming Negativity

Negativity in the workplace can decrease productivity, reduce employee engagement, and increase turnover rates. These are obvious negative impacts to the business. But how does a manager know that there is increasing negativity amongst the team? In addition to those consequences already mentioned, the manager will notice an increase in complaints and criticisms, as well as reduced energy and enthusiasm. There may even be more gossip, blaming and refusal to participate in meetings and workplace events. If negativity is becoming a concern, here are some tips that can help you deal with it:

  • Address the negativity directly with the employee and do not assume it will improve with time. Also do not assume it is an inherent part of their personality. To leave a situation unaddressed will be a missed opportunity to uncover issues that can easily be resolved. Schedule a meeting and start the conversation by mentioning a noticeable change in their recent attitude.
  • Come to the meeting prepared with specific examples of negative attitudes and behaviours. It can provide a clearer picture for the employee and help them understand how this impacts the team.
  • Use personal observations, as opposed to those relayed by others. Examples are helpful, provided they are presented appropriately. Avoid language like, “everybody has noticed…” This can make the employee feel ganged up on. Stick with using a personal perspective by saying, “I’ve noticed…”

Developing Flexibility, Adaptability and Resilience

Workplace processes are changing rapidly, and as a manager, it is important to set an example of flexibility and the willingness to readjust.

Being flexible is about having an open mindset, being able to work well under pressure, adjusting to new and unexpected deadlines, prioritizing tasks and, in some instances taking on additional responsibilities. How can a manager develop these skillsets in their teams?

  • Tie new ways of working to desired outcomes so that employees know what they are trying to achieve.
  • When employees are struggling to adapt, remind them of times in the past where they have successfully done this.
  •  Incorporate problem- solving into training and development plans. This learning will provide them with a methodology to use when responding to rapidly changing situations.
  • Encourage employees to build strong networks so they have supportive colleagues and acquaintances to share their experiences and learn best practices for dealing with constant change.
  • Regularly encourage employees to step outside of their comfort zones and be supportive of innovations, even if they aren’t always successful. Ensuring legislative requirements are met, of course.
  • Recognize and/or reward employees when they try or achieve new things, using new ways of working.

 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: A Guide for Change

Introduction

Diversity has been a buzz word in business for some time and over the years many companies have tried with varying levels of success to diversify their labour force. Those companies who have been successful know that to retain a diverse team, an equitable and inclusive environment must be created for all. By focusing on equity and inclusion, employers can begin to eliminate the systemic barriers that cause a need for targeted diversity efforts in the first place.

Specific to trucking and logistics, there are real challenges in our industry’s ability to attract and retain some individuals from diverse backgrounds. This challenge has led to the depletion of viable candidates from which we can fill critical industry roles. The information in this Guide can help.

Appreciate that this is a journey, can be a significant undertaking. The information included in this guide however can help you scale up or down your efforts depending on your organization’s size and team capacity. This guide includes:

  • Information on why diversity, equity and inclusion practices are needed in our industry.
  • Details on how your company can implement robust diversity, equity and inclusion practices.
  • Caution areas for potential discrimination.
  • Key considerations for on-going success.

Trucking Labour Shortages

The trucking industry is facing a real and significant deficit in the supply of available labour for trucking positions (Trucking HR Canada’s Labour Market Information). Already our industry loses $3.1 billion per year in reduced revenue caused by labour shortages largely amongst truck drivers.

Employers who institute strong and robust diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices will be better situated to both attract and retain individuals that may not currently see the trucking and logistics industry as a viable career option.

In particular, our industry can benefit from focused efforts to employ Indigenous people, women, new Canadians, visible minorities and millennials for long-haul driver positions. In the Trucking HR Canada publication Millennials Have Drive 2, the following was captured:

  • 17% of Indigenous people would consider long-haul driving.
  • While most of the warm leads for long-haul drivers are male, women account for 33% of them.
  • Visible minorities don’t see people like them driving trucks: in TV, movies, books or plays. There is opportunity to change the image of the industry.
  • 12% of Millennials (almost 1.1 million Canadians) would be interested in a career in long-haul truck driving.

If industry employers can break down barriers and actively target these diverse groups for employment, the talent scarcity challenge may not feel as significant.

Beyond Labour Market Trends – The Importance of DEI

Understanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Organizations have to have all three factors – diversity, equity and inclusion – in order to truly realize the benefits that employing individuals from a wide array of backgrounds can afford your company.

What is Diversity?

At its core, diversity is about employing people with different characteristics in your workplace and importantly, it’s about ensuring those you employ are reflective of the communities in which we work and live. Often, people think of diversity as it applies to visible differences – race, gender, ethnicity, age. However, differences can be non-visible as well. For instance, diverse workplaces have the presence of differences in sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and ability.

First and foremost, diversity in the workplace ensures that marginalized and historically disadvantaged populations are not being systematically or specifically discriminated against at a basic level. From a business perspective, diverse workplaces allow for enhanced perspectives for innovation, collaboration, and ideation – all resulting in measurable improvements to important business success factors.

What is Equity?

Equity is about ensuring that every individual who makes up your diverse workplace, despite his/her/their differences, has equal possible outcomes. It requires a focus on programs and processes that are impartial, fair, and free of bias. In order to achieve this, companies must recognize the barriers obstructing certain individuals and the advantages that are provided to others, based solely on their differences.

Equity goes beyond merely “ticking boxes” – it ensures that the individual is not trapped within that “ticked box”. Without equity, a diverse workplace becomes somewhere for people with differences to experience further marginalization. From a business perspective, equity ensures that the advantages of a diverse work place become actualized opportunities for both the company and the individual.

What is Inclusion?

Inclusion is creating an environment in which diversity can flourish. An inclusive workplace goes beyond ensuring there are no structural barriers or advantages to different individuals, it is one where every employee can feel a sense of belonging.

Inclusion speaks to the general culture of an organization. It allows a diverse group of individuals to bring their best, most authentic selves to work. From a business perspective, it helps extract all of the potential that a diverse and equitable workplace offers but don’t always realize.

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    Diversity = Who we employ

    Equity = Fair and equitable treatment for all

    Inclusion = The sense of belonging

The Four Designated Groups

Within the Employment Equity Act, an employer’s obligations are defined as:

(a) identifying and eliminating employment barriers against persons in designated groups that result from the employer’s employment systems, policies and practices that are not authorized by law; and

(b) instituting such positive policies and practices and making such reasonable accommodations as will ensure that persons in designated groups achieve a degree of representation in each occupational group in the employer’s workforce that reflects their representation in

  • (i) the Canadian workforce, or
  • (ii) those segments of the Canadian workforce that are identifiable by qualification, eligibility or geography and from which the employer may reasonably be expected to draw employees.

These obligations may require specific and focused efforts to ensure that you have specific strategies to attract, retain and promote people within the designated groups to achieve the goal outlined in (b) above. The designated groups are as follows:

Indigenous Peoples
Based on the 2016 Canadian Census, there were 1.6 million Indigenous peoples in Canada that comprise three groups of people: Inuit, Métis and First Nations. They are the fastest growing demographic in Canada.

People with Disabilities
According to Statistics Canada (2017), close to 4 million people aged 25 to 64 have a disability and 644,640 of those individuals were not working but had the potential to work. As the population ages, the number of people with disabilities is also expected to grow. Many disabilities are invisible – such as diabetes, arthritis, mental illness, sleep apnea, ADHD or dyslexia.

Women
While women represent approximately 52% of employed Canadians, they represent only 15% of the labour force in the trucking and logistics industry and 3.5% are truck drivers. *

Visible Minorities
More than 7.5 million people identify as a visible minority in Canada. The representation of visible minorities within the trucking and logistics industry mirrors that of the overall economy (26% of the workforce)*.

*Statistics Canada, 2016 Census (A Trucking HR Canada special request from Statistics Canada)

 

The Business Case for DEI

At the most basic level, leaders understand that having a diverse workforce is a matter of doing the right thing. There are however many other reasons companies may want to be involved in DEI work.

Winning the War for Talent
At its most basic level winning the war for talent is a numbers game – how large is your pool of potential applicants and how many from that pool actually apply? A company can benefit from the implementation of robust DEI practices on both fronts. First, committing to employ a diverse workforce naturally increases the pool of potential applicants. Moreover, fully committing to an equitable and inclusive environment for your diverse workforce makes you a more attractive employer to those you consider viable applicants. This is particularly important within trucking where we are in significant labour shortage.

Maximizing Employee Potential
Fully committing to diversity, equity and inclusion affords greater access to talent. In addition to having more people from which to source talent, these efforts offer greater access to the full potential of the people who you employ. Diversity, equity and inclusion all pay a part in ensuring this happens. Diversity provides the realization of different thoughts and ideas. Equity creates a framework in which there are no structural impediments preventing the most talented from rising to the top; inclusion creates an environment that encourages this to happen. All of these factors lead to higher employee engagement levels that ultimately result in better service, innovation, lower absenteeism and voluntary turnover.

DEI and the bottom line
It stands to reason that an organization that actively employs a workforce that offers diversity of thought and skillsets; develops equitable policies and procedures; and fosters a culture of open-mindedness should see success. More diverse, equitable and inclusive companies have a better image amongst external stakeholders, and more loyalty from customers and employees. All of this reflects on the bottom line. According to a McKinsey study, companies with more gender and ethnic diversity on their executive teams outperformed less diverse companies in the same industry in terms of profitability. Specifically, the likelihood of a company with gender diversity in their executive team financially outperforming their competitors is +25%. The likelihood of a company with ethnic diversity in their executive team financially outperforming their competitors is +36%.

Understanding Your Company’s Current State

Many organizations don’t believe that they have an issue when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. In reality, every company has room for growth. Clarifying the current reality for your company is a good first step to creating meaningful change.

Consider the following actions:

Asking the Tough Questions
Start by asking the tough questions, for example:

  • Do we embrace diversity in our company?
  • Who do our policies and practices benefit most and why?
  • Do all employees feel welcome and included? Do they feel like they belong?
  • Are we intentionally creating opportunities for historically marginalized groups to thrive?
  • Does our company reflect the communities in which we operate? Does our leadership team?

Using a SWOT Analysis
A commonly used framework, SWOT (stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) can be used to understand your company’s current state. Considering differing perspectives (i.e. clients, applicants, leaders, employees, vendors) when completing this exercise is advantageous. Consider the following:

  • Competitiveness – for both clients and candidates.
  • Legal frameworks and employment regulations.
  • Business regulations and authorities.
  • Operational, financial, reputation risks.
  • Systems and processes.

Creating Baseline Measures
To define where you’re going, you need to understand where you’re starting from. Creating baseline measures will allow you to determine your organization’s current state for diversity, equity and inclusion. Doing so can help you to articulate the reality of your organization’s competitive need for DEI, employee and management perceptions and possible risks that ignoring DEI can have on your company. To create baseline measures, consider using one of the following:

  • Implement an employee survey

Employee surveys are a great way to gain objective, unfiltered bottom-up feedback to help clarify employee perceptions on the company’s commitment to and practical integration of DEI practices. Questions should identify your employee’s understanding of the concepts of diversity and equity and they should inform on how inclusive the organization is currently. Other important areas to probe on are the level of trust employees have in leadership commitment to DEI, sense of belonging, and acceptance to working alongside diverse colleagues.

  • Generate employee demographics reports

Employers who are governed by the requirements under the  Employment Equity Act will have collected and analyzed information relative to the company’s employee demographics. This process provides an overview of the underrepresentation of designated groups within the company’s workforce. The process also provides information on the gaps that exist between the demographics of the communities in which the organization operates and the company itself. These demographics provide an important starting point of data for the company. Additional statistics may be required to measure progress around specific organizational goals. For example, information on the ages of new hires and managers. If your company has a Human Resources Information System (HRIS), determine what information you can extract from it. If your company doesn’t or where the information housed within the HRIS is limited, you may need to implement an employee census process to determine employee demographics and measure progress.

Making the Commitment

Committing to DEI is about creating meaningful change through education, collaboration and vigilance. Every step in the DEI process may bring forth new lessons and observations that could result in a shift to current actions, the need for new ones or acceptance that what’s currently being done needs to end.

Companies can outline their commitments within a DEI strategy document, or they can include them directly within their over-arching business strategy. It is useful to have this information readily available for team members so that they can see the commitment and the journey that the organization is taking.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Commitments

DEI won’t happen over-night, but setting clear goals and objectives to strive for will help you get specific on required actions, communicate those actions and your commitment, and measure your success.

Long-Term Objectives
Long-term objectives are high level goals that will take at least three years to complete. Set these aspirational goals to provide direction to where the organization wants to go. This generally looks like a statement, or group of statements, that articulate what the company wants to achieve, rather than outlining actions on how it’s going to get there. Goal planning for DEI can become integrated into larger organizational planning and goal setting initiatives.

Below are examples of long-term objectives for DEI:

  • Become an industry leader influencing DEI best practices within 5 years.
  • Become the go-to trucking company for diverse candidates within 3 years.
  • Outperform industry benchmarks for DEI by 2025.
  • DEI is integrated into our organization’s strategy & daily practices.
  • Attract and retain a workforce that represents the places we serve and communities we operate in by 2025.

 

Short-Term Objectives
Short-term goals help define what needs to be done in order to achieve the longer-term objectives. These can be defined as specific actions or measurable targets that can generally be achieved between one to two years. Short-term objectives should be assessed and where necessary, actions should be updated frequently if they are not garnering the desired results.

Below are some examples of short-term objectives for DEI:

  • Create a DEI committee.
  • Conduct a DEI process review.
  • Provide training to managers on DEI best practices.
  • Track and measure diversity stats for hiring, promotions and terminations.
  • Create diversity partnerships.
  • Include commitment to diversity in job ads.
  • Identify outreach opportunities to help attract diverse candidates to the organization.
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    • Increase diversity in new hires by 10% for women, 15% for Indigenous people, 15% for visible minorities and 20% for millennials.
    • Achieve 40% minority representation in management positions.
    • Host quarterly diversity initiatives.

    You may need to understand your company’s baseline measures before you can set measurable targets

Other Best Practices to Ensure Organization-Wide Commitment

Gain Leadership Buy-In
Leadership buy-in is generally considered a key to success. This buy-in goes beyond surface level agreement into real acceptance and understanding of the need for change. Budgets may be required and the leadership team, and perhaps board-members, should have input into, and ultimately sign-off on the short- and long-term objectives. Some work may need to be done at the executive and management levels to achieve this commitment prior to launching company-wide initiatives.

Define Your Core Beliefs
To help create additional connection and understanding of what DEI means in your company, it is helpful to define your core beliefs. The guiding principles by which employees can conduct themselves and through which the DEI objectives will be met.
Some examples of core belief statements or guiding principles include:

  • DEI is about more than numbers, it’s about people.
  • Inclusiveness is everyone’s responsibility.
  • DEI concerns will always be addressed.
  • We don’t only accept differences; we embrace the uniqueness of everyone.

Ask for suggestions and input from employees about what’s important and meaningful to them. These can be re-assessed and re-evaluated as DEI initiatives become more ingrained in your organization’s practices.

Let Employees Know
Once commitment is made at the executive level, organizational goals and objectives established and core beliefs defined, let employees know your DEI intentions. Get creative with how the commitments are communicated. Remember, employees will have their own impressions on DEI, why it’s important or even that it’s not. With any communication, providing context can be helpful to people when describing why decisions are made.

One way to clearly communicate this commitment is by developing a formal DEI policy. Outline your companies DEI efforts and include how complaints can be made. Help ensure everyone understands what their responsibilities and rights are when it comes to DEI.

Establish a Committee
Include employees in the company’s DEI efforts. Giving employees the opportunity to become involved in all aspects of your DEI efforts provides multiple benefits, such as: increased buy-in, differing perspectives, and speed of execution.

To help the committee be successful, a chairperson with access to the leadership team and who has the authority to manage the budget, set and monitor progress on company-wide initiatives and can communicate initiatives and progress to all employees, should be selected.

Review Current Practices

It’s important to consider that discrimination – either overt or systemic – may be present within deep-rooted, long-standing organizational practices. Taking the effort to review your current practices will be key to understanding whether any discrimination is present. It is important when reviewing these practices that you are aware of inherent bias that may exist. For this reason, neutrality when auditing a process must be imposed.

This can be achieved by hiring an impartial, third-party consultant who is trained in DEI sensitivities. Alternatively, you can train internal employees on potential biases and areas of caution and then conduct cross-functional process reviews using this trained team. If taking the second approach, be sure to also include members of diverse groups in the process review. Ask for their observations and feedback.

Federally regulated employers are governed by the Canadian Human Rights Act. The intention behind the Act is to ensure that all employees are protected from discrimination based on the prohibitive grounds. The prohibitive grounds include: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered. Provincially regulated employers are also governed by similar, though slightly modified human rights guidelines.

Human Rights is a great starting point. As a next step, employers can be intentional in their DEI efforts beyond those outlined in the code. Below, we highlight some of the areas where discrimination can exist at key decision making points with employees, along with what you can do to mitigate risk.

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    Unconscious Biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. These are deep-rooted and we all have them. Below are some forms of unconscious bias to be aware of in the workplace:

    AFFINITY BIAS: the preference for people to connect and interact with people who are “just like me” – those with similar backgrounds, education, and experiences.

    CONFIRMATION BIAS: this is the inclination to draw conclusions based on your own experience or bias, rather than actual demonstrated merit.

    GENDER BIAS: this is the tendency to prefer one gender or another.

    AGEISM: this is the tendency to have negative beliefs or assumptions about someone’s capabilities due to their age.

    ANCHOR BIAS: this is when an initial singular event or impression is used to make a decision.

    AUTHORITY BIAS: refers to when an idea or opinion is given a greater sense of importance or is thought to be more accurate because it was provided by an authority figure.

Recruitment & Selection

The recruitment process is a hot zone for potential discrimination, even when it’s not intentional. Recruitment is also the best opportunity to address diversity gaps and to demonstrate the equitable and inclusive practices of your organization.

There are many unconscious biases that we hold and that may unintentionally impact the recruitment and selection process. For example, people may believe that men are better suited for certain roles or that people with certain backgrounds are better/worse at certain positions. Understanding and addressing our personal biases, and introducing checks and balances within our recruitment process, are necessary steps to overcoming overt and unintended discrimination.

Below are some of the ways that you can create a more equitable and inclusive recruitment and selection process:

  • Review the job requirements – determine if they are all necessary or if there are any inherent bias present that may unintentionally screen diverse candidates out. (e.g. English proficiency, hours of work requirements).
  • Review the demographics of the current team – do they mirror the community in which you operate?
  • Identify any focused outreach opportunities by partnering with diversity associations (for example: new immigrant employment associations, indigenous support groups) or through active engagement with diverse communities (for example, religious institutions or women leadership organizations) to ensure you are proactively engaging diverse candidates.
  • Remove any gender language from job postings and interview questions.
  • Use technology to screen candidates, and/or create neutralized resumes – removing names, locations of past work experience, employment gaps, hobbies or other non-required information that might provide insight into race, gender, age.
  • Use a candidate selection committee made up of diverse participants.
  • Mitigate up-front barriers, such as scheduling interviews in accessible rooms or providing test materials in multiple languages or formats.
  • Understand how company “fit” and “culture” questions may have inherent bias. Avoid assessing candidates on personality traits that are unrelated to the success of a candidate in the role. It is helpful to use the same culture and fit questions for all candidates and to relate them back to the organization’s pre-defined values and core competencies.
  • Stick to the script and pre-determined interview questions.
  • Use a hiring rubric. This is a scorecard that helps define in advance what a successful candidate looks like by outlining the expectations that a candidate will be evaluated against. A rubric allows for multiple people’s equal input in the assessment process.
  • Have multiple people involved in the process and decision.
  • Hire an independent person or company to review the process for potential bias or discrimination.
  • Train hiring managers and committee participants on unconscious bias [Back link to call out box on page 13].

For additional information on how to implement recruitment and retention best practices in DEI, see Trucking HR Canada’s  Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Communities: An Employer Roadmap. This resource breaks down best practices by the four designated groups: indigenous people, people with a disability, women and visible minorities. Youth, which although not a designated group is also included in this resource as the trucking and logistics industry is facing a significant shortage of young workers.

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    Top Fleet Employers have a range of strategies they use to attract and recruit new graduates:

    • Offer flexible work arrangements such as “flexible shifts” and “weekends optional” to appeal to a desire for work life balance.
    • Reduce the requirement for years of experience and compensate with additional training programs.
    • Connect with high school and college students by being involved in career days, job fairs, “Bring your child to work day” and work term placements.
    • Advertise “Green Initiatives”, positioning the company as a thought leader.
    • Make continuing education available to employees by offering tuition reimbursement programs.
    • Make the transition to being a new owner operator easier by speaking with local financial institutions willing to take them on and by offering service and parts discounts.
    • Effectively use technology by advertising job postings on social media and by updating the company’s website to ensure it is easy to navigate

    Trucking HR Canada’s Top Fleet Employer Program is a national program that recognizes trucking and logistics companies who meet HR standards of excellence. Each year companies undergo a rigorous application process, but only the best are recognized as Top Fleet Employers.

    Become a Top Fleet Employer

Promotions

We have all heard of the “glass ceiling” – the idea that women can see the top but they can’t quite get there. This glass ceiling exists for other diversity groups as well, and without the full understanding and realization that opportunities are not created equally, there can be no real equity or inclusion.

Finding ways to address the real barriers and obstacles that exist to those who are not normally considered for promotions may be difficult. Again, recognizing that these barriers are there is a great first step. To really appreciate what they are, you have to gain a different perspective. Ask your teams what may be in the way of their own growth and development. From the responses, identify if there are systemic barriers that prevent people from certain backgrounds from advancing within the company.

For example, when interviewing your employees, you may hear women say that they won’t consider management roles because the hours aren’t conducive to their at-home responsibilities. You may find out from other employees that there have never been discussions about their advancement or that opportunities for growth aren’t clear to them. Is that more prevalent in responses from minority groups? Understanding what the barriers are can help you to identify ways to break them down.

Below are examples of how you can make your promotion practices more inclusive and equitable for all employees.

  • Keep stats on the demographics of people who apply for internal promotions.
  • Keep stats on the demographics of people who are appointed promotions.
  • Create standardized career paths for key roles within the company. Publish them so that everyone can access and understand what’s required to move up.
  • Make career development discussions the norm – for everyone.
  • Use gender inclusive language when referencing senior positions.
  • Address systemic barriers that may prevent certain individuals from obtaining promotions – such as offering more widely accessible training and development opportunities, removing unnecessary qualifications, and implementing flexible work practices for senior roles.
  • Ensure compensation structures and practices, including promotions, are consistently applied.
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    Effective January 1, 2021, federally regulated employers, with 100 or more employees, were required under the Employment Equity Act to report their salary data in a way that shows aggregated wage gap information. The intention behind these measures is to raise awareness of wage gaps experienced by women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and visible minorities working in federally regulated workplaces.

    NOTABLE CHANGES:

    1. Wage gap information will need to be included as part of the annual reporting on employment equity for June 1, 2022.
    2. The calculation for “salary” has been amended and it is no longer a requirement that employers annualize salaries (i.e., calculate all remuneration paid for work performed by an employee in the form of salary, wages, commissions, tips bonuses and piece rate payments, rounded to the nearest dollar). Previously, salary did not include overtime wages. New specific data elements, that employers can extract from their payroll and HR information systems, will include hourly rate of pay, bonus pay, overtime pay, and overtime hours, to determine hourly wage, bonus, overtime hours, and overtime pay gaps.
    3. Employers will be required to retain additional records, including: salary information (excluding overtime and bonus pay); the period over which a salary is paid; the number of hours worked that can be attributed to the salary earned; the bonus pay paid during a reporting period; overtime pay in the reporting period; the number of overtime hours worked in which the overtime pay can be attributed.

Discipline

Some of the most emotionally charged and sensitive interactions with employees take place when there is a conflict, performance violation or other event that requires discipline. Ensuring equitable and fair treatment for all employees throughout the disciplinary process is important.

Similar to the bias that exists within the recruitment process, our own personal biases may be present when dealing with an employee disciplinary issue. For example, we may believe that people of certain ages or cultural backgrounds behave a certain way and therefore, they either instigated a performance issue or they “let it happen”.

Ways to help prevent bias and discrimination when dealing with a difficult employee situation are outlined below:

  • Allow the employee to provide context and information around what happened.
  • Follow all company policies and documented procedures when investigating any serious performance issue.
  • Pause and reflect on whether any bias is present.
  • Develop and then follow a progressive discipline policy.
  • Provide training to managers on how to have difficult conversations.
  • Gain perspective by involving HR or another leader in decisions on disciplinary action.
  • Ensure any discipline actions are consistent with relevant past situations.

Terminations

Similar to the discipline process, termination decisions are always difficult and they can be emotional, not just for the employee being let go, but also for the person delivering the message. Even when the decision to terminate is sound and justified, it is often challenging for managers to conclude that termination is necessary. In some situations, the manager may feel personally offended or disappointed in the employee causing an emotionally charged reaction and decision.

Having strong practices on how terminations are decided and delivered will help ensure the decisions are based on business need and not other, potentially discriminatory factors. For example, if a manager is frustrated because an older worker isn’t properly using the new technology it may be a need for additional training rather than incompetence.

The practices below will help ensure consideration is taken to avoid potential discrimination, and potential legal action, when terminating someone’s employment:

  • Keep stats on employee demographics for involuntary terminations.
  • Document any progressive discussions and attempts to correct poor performance.
  • Assess whether the punishment fits the crime. Is this the same decision that would be made for all employees? Is this outcome consistent when compared to relevant previous situations?
  • Consider opportunities to provide additional training or accommodations to prevent the termination.
  • Follow company policies.
  • Pause and reflect on whether bias is present.
  • Discuss the decision with a neutral party and ask them to challenge you to confirm it is sound.
  • Develop severance guidelines to ensure consistency in what’s offered.
  • Follow a script when conducting the termination meeting.

Employee Involvement

As highlighted throughout this guide, diversity, equity and inclusion practices should involve everyone within your organization. A negative interaction or experience can destroy the confidence that an employee has in the company’s commitment, despite HR and leadership intentions and can be hard to rebuild.

Employee Training
Everyone has bias. People have different understandings around what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to interacting with other employees. It’s up to the company to set the standard on tolerance. Employee training is an ideal way to both communicate standards and expectations, and to challenge traditional perceptions and norms. Employers can achieve greater gains towards their DEI goals by taking a comprehensive and intentional approach to employee development. Training programs can be as simple as a 15-minute pre-recorded video, or a self-reflection exercise and discussion guide that can be used to open a team meeting. The important part is to tie the training efforts to the company goals, and to not only focus on what DEI means but to help demonstrate and encourage positive DEI practices.

Affinity Groups
Affinity groups, or diversity community groups, are groups of employees with a shared background. For example, these could be groups of employees who are all female leaders, or Islamic, or people who have non-visible disabilities. In general, organizations have been slow to introduce affinity groups into their workplace settings, perhaps for fear that they may create more silos, for limited participation in smaller organizations or because it is new and there is a fear that these groups may call out more than the employer can realistically achieve or fix when it comes to their diversity practices. These groups, however, can be a huge help in providing support and creating community within a company’s diverse communities and otherwise. They can also help to foster a sense of belonging and understanding within the larger company through the promotion of ideas for inclusivity, sharing experiences, and the respectful expression of concerns to leadership and other employees. Affinity groups can be a great resource for the DEI committee. They can also be a great resource for marketing teams looking to create a more diverse representation of the company.

Critical Success Factors

Continued Commitment
Diversity isn’t a tick-the-box exercise. It requires continued commitment and on-going investment. Leaders must walk-the-talk. Being prepared to take action and make tough decisions is helpful if individuals within the organization are acting in contrast to what’s been articulated.

Employee Contribution
Make DEI the commitment of every employee, not just human resources and the leadership team. Identify ways to include employees in initiatives both large and small. This may require creating a committee to help organize events such as: culture fairs or pot lucks, lunch and learns, and celebrating diverse heritage months. Include teams in the needs assessment and solutioning processes. When it comes to diversity, differing perspectives and opinions will help shine a light on what’s happening and where focused attention can be given.

Communications Strategy
A comprehensive communication strategy for DEI has many components. For example, it should include the organization’s commitment to diversity, actions and progress against those actions, updates on key performance measures, and employee stories and experiences. Take a multi-channel and a multi-level approach to disseminating key messages. Celebrate and share accomplishments. Increased communication will demonstrate importance and in-turn, it will garner higher engagement levels from your teams.

Surveys and Pulse Checks
It is recommended that organization’s ask employees about the DEI practices within the company at least annually. These questions can be added to engagement surveys that are already in place, or it can be a stand-alone practice. Pulse surveys can also be implemented more frequently help provide intermittent data on key areas that the organization has identified as priority.

Measuring Progress
To ensure the effort your company is putting into its DEI practices are working, it’s important to regularly measure progress against the pre-determined baseline measures. It’s also important to provide frequent updates and reviews against the short-term commitments. A simple scale indicating progress, no-progress or unexpected change will allow you to quickly evaluate if additional action or re-focused effort is required.

On-Going Review
DEI can be present in everything a company does, every action taken and every decision made. Continuously evaluating, adapting and re-evaluating your processes and practices through a diversity lens is an on-going requirement. Include your teams, customers and other key stakeholders in this process to gain a thorough perspective. Consider hiring an external consultant to help highlight bias potential, identify areas of concerns within your processes and procedures, and to provide recommendations for solutions.

 

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP)

 

Flexible Workplace Practices: The Growing Importance of New Ways of Working

Introduction

The world of work is changing. How, where and when we work are all up for re-evaluation. Advances in technology, evolving family needs, cultural and social dynamics, and generational differences all play a part in how our work practices are evolving.

A global pandemic forced organizations to implement and even embrace flexible work practices, proving that organizations and industries can adapt and successfully run their businesses using these work models. Employees have since voiced their desire to continue with flexible work arrangements. Consequently, employers continue to assess, identify, and offer flexible work options that align and support their business goals. If implemented and maintained effectively, these programs will attract a diverse workforce and improve retention rates.

Specific to the trucking and logistics industry, much is at play. Balancing the real challenges facing our industry – such as labour shortages, two distinct workforces (non-driving and driving employees), along with on-going requirements for automation, digitization and compliance – is not easy.

The future is flexible, and companies will benefit from being able to build flexibility into their workplace structures. This guide provides clarity and understanding around why flexible work practices are important and how you can go about implementing them.

Flexible Work Practices: A Closer Look

What Are Flexible Work Practices?

Flexible work practices refer to variations of work arrangements that provide a degree of flexibility for how long, where, when and at what times employees work. Previously considered a “perk”, offering employees flexible work options is now an essential part of modern businesses operations.

Why Are Flexible Work Practices Important for Employers?

While there is a common perception that flexible work options only benefit employees, smart employers recognize that they too can reap significant benefits. In the past, flexible work was thought to be limited to just a few types of industries and roles (e.g., tech, knowledge workers). This is no longer the case with more traditional employers evaluating what these practices could mean for their business and their employees.

According to Trucking HR Canada’s Labour Market Information (LMI), key factors behind the industry’s current labour shortage issues include: an aging workforce, difficulties attracting women and youth, and high voluntary turnover.

Here flexible work practices can be mutually beneficial. It has become widely known that millennials value work-life balance when they consider their career options. Employees not only value but need flexibility to be able to successfully manage the demands of work and family. Older workers also find it challenging to maintain the physical pace and demands of long and short haul runs. An organization’s inability to address some of these challenges can result in disappointing and costly voluntary turnover rates.

In addition to an increased ability to attract and retain employees, and the opportunity for workers to achieve a greater work-life balance, within trucking and logistics, flexible work practices are an important weapon against labour shortages. Some of the other employer benefits to flexible workplace practices include:

  • Increased diversity and inclusivity
  • Greater productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • A more focused and engaged workforce
  • Increased ability to handle stress
  • More job satisfaction
  • Lower office overhead costs

The Future of Flexible Work

HR departments are working to come up with more robust remote work frameworks and guidelines which include working remotely fulltime, working remotely “as needed” or a hybrid plan. Below are some trends to consider:

Smart or agile working – Being agile is when a worker can control their own time and decide where and when to work. This allows them to balance what is most important to them in order to achieve strong performance results. This also means that:

  • Companies may rearrange their office workspaces to include areas that will accommodate workers as they “come and go” based on their need to have an alternate place to work, meet with teams or simply feel the need to have a face-to face with colleagues or clients.
  • Hours will continually flex, taking into consideration the work that needs to be accomplished, communication with colleagues and clients that needs to occur and the personal responsibilities that need to be met.
  • Companies will invest in technology that supports 24/7 communication and collaboration and provide secure access to information, clients, and colleagues from anywhere at any time.

Increased focus on work versus having a job – The trend for workers to forgo the traditional full-time job in favour of freelance, gig, or contractor work is growing. The view is that a person can get full-time “work” without having to have a “job”. This gives them more control over how much work they want to do.

Contractors and consultants from around the world can bid for work online and then be paid for the results that they deliver, creating a just-in-time model of getting work done.

The part-timer – Traditionally, part-time was an arrangement restricted to lower skilled roles. There are increasingly more executives and senior level professionals that are working a reduced schedule and demonstrating they can still effectively contribute to the business. The increasing age of the baby boomer generation is also driving up the demand across all industries for more part-time opportunities. People are healthier and living longer, so to remain active and challenged and to meet continuing financial responsibilities, some older workers are choosing   to work in a capacity that allows them to engage in a semi-retirement lifestyle.

Rewarding results versus efforts – Traditionally, work was a place an employee went for a specific amount of time and was paid a salary in exchange for that time. The reward was for the number of hours worked, whether those hours were productive or not.

Now, technology provides the ability for the employee to have more choice around where and when to work. A shift is happening from “work” being a place to go, to “work” meaning the completion of activities that have a purpose for the business. It is a process for achieving results where the outcomes matter and become the measure for rewards and recognition.

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    With new working arrangements, it might be tempting to focus on hours worked as a success measure (for example, did the person log in at 8am, are they working their full day?) versus results and deliverables. Here are some strategies to remain focused on what’s important:

    •  Create job profiles that have clearly defined outcomes and quantifiable expectations – this will help team members prioritize tasks and focus on the most important deliverables and it will allow you to check in on progress.
    • If there are base line expectations, make sure that they are communicated – for example, respond to customers within 2 hours, reply to all team emails by end of day.
    • When setting goals for the role, ensure they are results based and quantifiable, not just task oriented.
    • Include the team member in the process when establishing expectations to ensure buy-in.

Common Flexible Work Practices

There is a wide array of flexible work options successfully used in organizations today. Let’s take a look at their benefits and where caution should be considered.

Compressed work schedules increase an employee’s number of daily hours without changing the total number of hours weekly. Commonly, this is structured as 4 x 10-hour days as opposed to the standard 5 X 8-hour days.

  • Benefit – This provides the employee with a day off through the week to tend to personal and family obligations. It also reduces the number of commuting days and associated expenses for the employee.
  • Caution – Depending on the individual, a longer workday could result in fatigue which can impact both work and personal lives.

Flexible work hours allow the employee to work hours that vary from the companies standard operating hours. In this model, the employee works the required number of hours per week (generally 35-40 hours) but instead of the typical 9 am – 5 pm, they may start earlier and work 7 am – 3 pm, or have a later start and end time. This may be a daily flexible work schedule, or it may only be for a few days a week to accommodate family obligations.

  • Benefit – This helps to reduce the number of lates, and absences and it allows employees to work when they feel most productive. It also improves the company image of being a family-friendly workplace, permitting parents to flex their hours to manage daycare, school and extracurricular activities as needed. A business also retains core coverage of customer business hours. Specific to trucking, this type of work structure for non-driving employees may allow for greater access to support teams by drivers when they are on the road.
  • Caution – Regular department or team meetings will need to be scheduled to include those with a flexed schedule. Overlap with team members may be reduced, requiring the need for better processes and handover communications. It may be beneficial for companies that introduce this practice to have a standard set of core hours that all office employees are required to work, such as 10 am to 2 pm.

Part- time work is an arrangement that usually allows a person to work fewer hours per work week than their employer stipulates as full-time employment.

  • Benefit – Working reduced hours provides employees time to direct towards other obligations or interests. This leads to better balance, more energy, and less stress. Often, part-time employees come with a fresh perspective and creative ideas they have thought through on their days off. It also provides the employer an opportunity to schedule part-time employees according to the company’s needs. They can cover for full-time employees who are taking leave, or they can be scheduled during the busiest hours of the week to cover high customer demand.
  • Caution – Comprehensive communication practices will be required to ensure part-time employees are updated on activities and changes that occur while they are not at work. This will eliminate confusion or inconsistencies. For example, by ensuring all employees are copied on all email communications, by noting when most staff will be working and scheduling meetings during those times, or by assigning work buddies that are responsible for updating part-time employees on information they missed while off.

Telework/remote work at its core, is people performing their work at locations different from where they would normally be doing it. Often, this means working from home or a telework space. The ability to conduct their regular job duties relies heavily on technology and tools that support remote work. Hybrid work models are here to stay.

  • Benefit – Provides greater access to diverse talent pools through expanded geographical and cultural reach. Trucking HR Canada’s research demonstrates that millennials and women are particularly attracted to this work arrangement, though it is not limited to those groups. This type of work practice allows for better work-life balance, improved ability to meet family and social obligations, while still being able to satisfy the requirements of their job and expectations of their employer. Reduction in the need for office space and related expenses result in a cost savings for the business.
  • Caution – Managers need to get comfortable with the notion of trusting that remote employees are productive and completing their business goals even if they are not able to “see” them working. Some jobs don’t lend themselves to remote work. Processes and communications need to be more intentionally considered. Some information sharing is lost.

Job sharing is a staffing practice that involves two people working in the same position on a part-time or reduced-time schedule and sharing the responsibilities that a full-time employee would normally fulfill on their own.

  • Benefit – Greater opportunity for coverage if there is an illness, emergency or vacation being taken. Like most other flex work options, work-life balance is a primary benefit.
  • Caution – A risk of having incompatible partners or different working styles that could interfere with meeting customer requirements. It may fall to management to resolve conflicts and ineffectiveness.

Gradual retirement allows employees to reduce their working hours or reduce their workload over a period rather than switching from full- time employment to retirement abruptly.

  • Benefit – This phased period can be used to train the replacement employee or to adjust for the redistribution of tasks among the remaining employees.
  • Caution – Similar to part-time arrangements, impact to employee benefits and pension will need to be considered. Additionally, this arrangement has the potential to last beyond the period where it is mutually beneficial. There may develop physical or motivational limitations to the employee’s productivity.

Additional Flexible Work Options for drivers could be:

  • Team driving – this is a trucking-specific version of job sharing, in which route-responsibility is shared amongst a group of drivers.
  • Tandem driving – this is where two drivers travel together. This can work well for spouses or other members of a family.
  • Route scheduling – careful consideration is given to drivers’ off-road responsibilities when routes are created and assigned.
  • Load sharing – a way to potentially shorten routes and ease the burden on specific drivers.
  • Any arrangement that drivers feel would contribute to work-life balance and productivity on the job – surveying your employees can yield many fruitful initiatives and has the added benefit of increasing engagement as they witness their ideas being put into practice.

Top Fleet Employers Lead the Way

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    •  87% offer part-time work upon request.
    • 75% allow drivers to select their schedules.
    • 78% allow drivers to select routes close to home.
    • 42% offer load sharing.
    • 56% offer team driving.
    • 69% allow drivers to have family members in their cab.
    • 55% allow drivers to have pets in their cab.
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    • 79% offer schedule selection.
    • 83% offer part-time work upon request.
    • 94% offer telework/work-from-home.
    • 43% offer a compressed work week.
    • 30% offer job sharing.
    • 51% offer phased in retirement.
    • 19% offer summer hours.
    • 35% offer a earn days off program.

Considers Before Implementing Flexible Work Practices

Before initiating a formal program, a thorough review of the following factors will help ensure flexible work practices that are mutually beneficial for the business and its employees.

Gain Leadership Buy In

  • As with the development of any HR program and employment practice, involving the leadership team in initial discussions is a best practice. Key stakeholders should agree there is a need, understand the benefits and risks, and ultimately support the offering. Some of these practices rely heavily on the management team changing their mindset and embracing the concept of managing a team of employees under several different work arrangements. It also requires them to work on the premise of trust – shifting from seeing employees doing the work to instead measuring the results of their work.

Understand the Business Impact

  • Not every employee will want a flexible work option. Many are keen to maintain standard work situations as it suits their work style, personality, social, and family needs. However, just knowing that the option is available positively impacts employee and community perception of the company.
  • Conduct a review of the financial impacts – weighing the pros and cons. Companies can benefit from flexible work practices through reduced costs related to overhead and real estate. Don’t forget to also factor in the real costs of turnover and how higher retention can impact productivity.
  • Review customer demands, operating hours, seasonal highs and lows to ensure there is appropriate coverage and the ability to provide clients with the service and products they require.
  • Evaluate the impact to other team members and the organization. Flexible working arrangements typically mean not every team member is in the same place at the same time. When poorly managed, this can harm communication and cohesion, leading to decreased productivity and wellbeing. Proactively countering these impacts will be key.

Know the Legal Implications

  • Adhere to minimum Employment Standards regarding maximum hours of work, overtime, and rest periods.
  • Understand obligations and follow provincial occupational health and safety legislation applicable to the employer.
  • Federally regulated employers should be aware their employees have a right to request flexible work arrangements. Under the new provisions of the Canada Labour Code introduced in September of 2019, employees with at least six months of service can request flexible work arrangements relating to their hours of work, work schedule, or work location.
  • Safeguard confidential business information, particularly in telework situations where employees need to conduct work conversations, handle, store and dispose of business information in a location that is off site or remote.

Identify Potential Changes to Terms and Conditions of Employment

  • In situations where there are reduced hours, understand the impact of reduced hours on benefits eligibility.
  • Think through the impact to compensations strategies. In telework, some employees conduct their work in markets that differ from the primary business location. Consider basing pay on 3 options: employers’ location, employees’ location or national median for role/industry.
  • Ensure compliance with any collective bargaining agreement.
  • Make sure employment agreements reflect the work practices. Consider including clauses that allow for temporary or permanent changes to flexible arrangements in case of unforeseen business requirements.

How to Effectively Implement Flexible Work Practices

Equally important to understanding what options for flexible work practices are available is determining how to implement them. This section of the guide will provide insight into steps that can be taken to support the successful implementation of flexible work practices.

Do the Research

  • Seek feedback from employees about what flexible work arrangements would work for them. To be successful, the options must meet the needs of the employee and the employer.
  • Speak to others in the industry about what flexible work practices have worked for them. What benefits have they realized? What challenges have they encountered?

Formalize Policies and Procedures
With a clear and transparent flexible working policy, employees can understand the process to make a request and how the company expects the arrangement to operate. This document might include:

  • The types of flexible work options available
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Conditions under which a flex work agreement can be reversed
  • Addressing changes in employee status (for example, if a promotion or change in job makes them ineligible)
  • How to submit a request
  • How and by whom the request will be reviewed/approved and the expected response timeframe
  • Process to appeal a decision
  • Terms of the flexible work option and completion of trial periods
  • Complaint’s procedure

Provide Education and Training

Providing managers and employees with information and appropriate guidance on how to best handle the transition to, and maintenance of, new ways of working set everyone up for success.

  • For Managers:
    • Be clear on the flexible work options available and their role in communicating and aligning these new practices to policy and procedure.
    • Demonstrate the importance of communicating work expectations and goals with employees upfront. Also share how changes may impact results.
    • Highlight the need to commit to operating within a culture of trust. Not seeing employees working all the time may be uncomfortable for some managers. The focus should shift from seeing work being performed to measuring outcomes.
  • For Employees:
    • Clarify the benefits of flexible work along with any challenges it may present. For employees considering a new work arrangement, a check-list that helps them decide on which flexible options is right could be beneficial.
    • Provide comfort that participating in a flexible work arrangement will not be detrimental to their career.

Implement Effective Communication Strategies

One of the main reasons that flexible work programs fail is due to a lack of effective communication. Taking the time before implementing any new practice to develop a communication strategy that addresses expectations from the top down can help ensure everyone is on the same page.

  • Corporate level communications should:
    • Announce new or revised flexible work options.
    • Direct employees and managers on where to find policies and procedures outlining the flexible work arrangements.
    • Ensure employees who participate in flexible work options are included in all company-wide communications, staff meetings and events.
    • Create ways for flexible workers to connect on a personal level with their co-workers.
    • Implement technology that supports effective and efficient communication, such as instant messaging apps and mobile collaboration tools.
  • Management level communications should:
    • Allow for one-to-one conversations about the flexible work agreement, expected productivity levels, work outcomes and communication methods to be used.
    • Include written documentation and agreements outlining the flexible work option to ensure mutual understanding of terms and to act as a reference when required.
    • Include frequent and consistent check-in calls to monitor progress on goals and workload management.
    • Provide regular feedback to employees so performance expectations and work goals are conveyed.
    • Assess whether the current flex work arrangement is meeting the needs of the employee and the business.

Run a Pilot Program

To ensure you have a viable flexible workplace initiative, consider taking a test run before implementing it across the entire organization.

  • Start by identifying and rolling it out to a few key departments.
  • Set a date, such as six months or even a year, to run the trial and review the data.
  • Identify and assess roadblocks and adjust as necessary.

Guidelines for On-going Success

Evaluate Regularly

  • Review policies and procedures on a routine basis. Modify as required since the conditions and needs of the business and employees change over time.
  • Obtain employee and manager feedback. Gather evidence and feedback that participation in these programs is in fact providing the intended benefits to the business and its employees.

Ensure Consistency

  • Inconsistent application of policies can cause resentment, poor morale, loss of employees and even legal action.

Collect and Review Data to Confirm Effectiveness of Flexible Work Practices

  • Are the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) of the business being met? If not, is there a correlation with the flex work practices initiative?
  • Are clients satisfied with service, response, and delivery times of those participating in flex work programs?
  • Has there been a reduction/increase in business costs related to the flex work program?
  • Has there been an increase/decrease in retention rates?
  • Has there been an increase/decrease in productivity rates?
  • Has there been an improvement in meeting diversity goals?
  • Has there been an increase/decrease in employee absenteeism?
  • Has our employee satisfaction survey yielded improved results?
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program (SIP)

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Designated Recipient: How-to Guide