Building a positive company culture

People stay in situations they’re comfortable in, and they leave the ones they aren’t. But when it comes to employment, is it this simple?

Under normal situations, I would say no. In other sectors, the ability to leave one employer and go across the street and be re-employed in short order is usually not in the cards.

In trucking, a decent driver with a good record could have multiple job offerings within hours of contacting any number of carriers. This reality is one that many truckload companies have not come to terms with. They are at a total loss about how to deal with their turnover in any kind of effective fashion. So, if I were a driver looking for a job, why would I choose your company?

Take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself a few questions. Where is your company in the marketplace regarding driver wages, and the lanes you service? If you don’t know, find out and determine your status at least every quarter. Not knowing it might be the number one reason your turnover is so high.

Next question, where do you prioritize safety in the day-to-day operation of the business? Is it engrained in the culture, or is safety an afterthought?  Where are your CSA scores at?

Newsflash: professional drivers quite enjoy being around other professional drivers. If you’re letting drivers get away with unprofessional behaviors, your good ones will leave. Do you have a solid discipline policy, and is it enforced? Does the safety department have the knowledge and credentials to execute a sound safety strategy that is eagerly supported by the entire company? If not, you better get on it because you will run out of drivers or the insurance companies will price you out of the marketplace.

Next question, where do your drivers get their information on the company they work for or the industry they work in? If you do not have a formal communication strategy, then you must be happy for them to be informed via the drivers’ room at your terminal and, of course, the CB radio. Now, think about this for a moment…humans are social beings, and they long for interaction.

(Photo: iStock)

I don’t care if you drive a truck or are the Maytag repair guy; people need to communicate.

Stop thinking of yourselves as singular communicators. You may be aware but, your company is always communicating to its current drivers, its inside workers, the customers it services, the suppliers it uses, FMCSA along with law enforcement, any charities you support, and the communities you service and where your terminals reside.

Lastly and possibly most importantly, you communicate with the prospective workforce you’re trying to attract to your company.

What is the message you send to these groups? Is the message one you control, or is it one that you react to? Controlling, and directing the narrative of your company’s communication to all these communities is one of the most important roles of the leader of any company.

Let’s play a game of Rate our Company. Where on a scale of 1-10 would you be when it comes to your company’s pay package compared to your competition? Now let’s do the same thing for safety; be honest here, and I say yield on the side of caution. Finally, what is your company’s ranking for communicating with all the different communities it is exposed to?

Outstanding, now you have a score. How’d you do? If you sucked, believe it or not, that is good news because now you know where to improve your performance.

What does that accomplish? Well, it will go a long way to improving your company culture, and that is what it is all about. Do you score the company high in all categories and still have retention problems? Please go back and do it again, you missed something. Does anyone doubt that perception is reality? How is the company perceived? Does it reflect reality, or are you just not controlling the narrative properly? Again, you should know where to start to get control.

Every company I deal with hires way more drivers than they need. Drivers want a positive sense of community where they’re respected, and you know people have their back. That is what gets the job done, that’s a place where a driver will want to work and stay.


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Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations.

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