For years I have spoken to large and small groups about how destructive driver turnover or churn is to our industry. It wouldn’t bother me at all if those speeches and article such as this were a thing of the past, although there would be many turnover consultants and recruiting experts who would be out of a job. Again maybe not such a bad thing, besides they will just become self professed experts at something new.
I receive many emails and letters from drivers who seem to enjoy detailing to me how throughout their entire career each and every company they have worked at has taken advantage of them and then they just move on to the next company to see what might happen next. I usually write these notes off as being reflective of the victims who exist in every sector of our economy these folks go looking for fault in everything and everyone they meet and are never surprised when they find it. I have always liked Henry Ford’s famous quote “whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you are right.” These folks look for fault and find it either real or perceived; they find it because that’s what they expect. I of course always have to preference my comment at this point by saying that I am aware that there are bad companies out there that should be avoided at all cost, my best advice when looking for a job, do your homework.
So what does a positive working environment look like? Well from ownership’s side of the desk it would be dedicated employees who worked diligently to the maximum benefit of the person or company who signs the cheque. Hold it, wait just a minute this is what the base line of the employer employee relationship has been for years and it hasn’t worked all that well for us. Let’s try it again, empowered employees who work towards mutually benefiting both themselves and their employer? This is getting closer, I think? As you can tell I am definitely not an HR manager candidate, in fact in a previous life my definition of a long day is being surrounded by an HR department as we get in touch with each other’s feelings and they slowly zap my spirit, please just show me the rules I can’t break and let’s get on with it.
Here is another Ford quote that I like “ There is only one secret to success, it lies in the ability to get the other persons point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as your own.” I think Henry was on to something here, so what this might entail as an employer is engaging the workforce to use their ideas and insights to move the entire business forward and show them how in doing so there is a win/win result.
Trucking has not been too good at this and as such it has lagged behind other sectors of the economy and it has suffered ridiculously high turnover for years because of it. It has become a self fulfilling prophecy for many companies, these folks would be the ones stating that they don’t make drivers like they used to, absolutely right, they don’t, so what have these companies done to change with the times, if they have done nothing but complain, they are either gone or are on their way out and they still don’t know why.
A successful company of today realizes that the welfare of their workforce is paramount to their company’s success. That welfare comes in the form of policies and procedures that are designed not only as a guideline of the rules governing behavior in the workforce but also offer opportunities for growth and education of the worker and owner operator. Those companies who view their drivers, owner operators and inside the wall workers as a strategic advantage in the marketplace that need continuous attention and nurturing will win in the long run, compared to companies who view their workforce as an necessary evil who are only needed to serve their customer and produce the revenue.
Some companies get it others don’t know how to get it and some don’t care, but the secret to sustainable success is gained through insight and knowledge of the front line people who do the work day in and day out at thousands of trucking companies across this county. To get there, a foundation of trust and respect has to be built, a line drawn in the sand so to speak, not too many owner’s have the courage to go here, it takes guts and it takes vision.
Have we turned the corner on this page of our past maybe not but I sincerely hope so, until next time, Safe trucking!
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. All posts by Ray Haight