Managing an aging workforce

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It’s a fact: Canada’s trucking and logistics workforce is aging at a higher rate than other industries.

Take, for example, the truck driver occupation. Based on the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s latest report, the average age of a truck driver in Canada is 49 years old, seven years older than the average worker.

While this raises concerns about how to encourage and recruit younger people into trucking, it also raises a flag on the retention side. Mature employees, some of whom will want to remain active in the workforce rather than seek retirement, provide a wealth of knowledge, experience and institutional memory that are assets to your business.

However, managing an aging workforce in the trucking industry has its challenges.

Increase in age related disabilities
While 4.4% of Canadians from 18 to 34 report a physical or mental disability, the rate is 35.6% among those aged 45 to 54. The odds are that those numbers are reflected within your workforce, whether those disabilities are formally reported or not.

We asked companies in our Top Fleet Employers program, which recognizes the importance of sound HR practices in the trucking industry, what they do to ensure that mature workers remain productive. Their response: 89% of these fleets have a formal commitment to accessibility and accommodations beyond what’s mandated by law. 77% have a formal return-to-work plan, and 63% ensure their facilities are accessible to people with disabilities.

In turn, Top Fleet Employers experience very low turnover rates (22% on average in 2016) and workforce surveys show that their employees are highly engaged.

Changing skill sets
As technologies evolve, one can expect that the skills of a truck driver, dispatcher and technician or mechanic should change as well. Mature workers may have to be trained, retrained or “up-skilled,” and they may feel anxious that their current skills are obsolete or in conflict with more recent techniques or approaches to their job.

You can address this with a formal professional development and training policy that makes it clear to your employees how your company will invest in its people. Our Top Fleet Employers lead by example in this area. In fact, 100% offer professional development opportunities to their employees from managers to truck drivers. The vast majority of their employees indicate that they have taken advantage of these programs or, at the very least, been offered a training opportunity.

Moving forward
These are only two examples of the retention challenges for HR managers in the trucking industry. While it may be tempting to focus solely on recruiting millennials, you should be prepared for the challenges associated with managing an overall changing workforce.

As our Top Fleet Employers have found over the years, policies and practices that indicate the multiple ways an employer invests in its people—be it through accommodations, flexible work arrangements, training, support, etc.—don’t go unnoticed by employees and make for a more productive, engaging workplace.

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Isabelle Hétu is the Director of Programs and Services at Trucking HR Canada, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing the human resources challenges and opportunities in the trucking and logistics sector. Isabelle oversees key initiatives including Top Fleet Employers, diversity programs and compensation benchmarking. As a respected leader in HR, Trucking HR Canada works with various associations, government departments and industry professionals to ensure employers have the skilled workforce needed for today and in the future. Feel free to learn more at, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us @TruckingHR for tips, practical resources and more. We can be reached by e-mail:

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  • Thank you for this very insightful blog! I have shared it amongst our network of agents, as our industry is battling with the aging workforce. In my experience, here are six tips for organizations to accommodate these valuable workers while still managing their own costs:
    #1 Health programs on-site
    #2 Flexible work arrangements
    #3 Employee assistance and work-life programs
    #4 Care management
    #5 Creating an “aging plan”
    #6 Succession planning
    To learn more about managing aging in the workforce, click here