Reconnecting is the best medicine

Mike McCarron

It was with great interest that I read the new Hays 2021 Salary Guide published by the recruitment firm Hays Canada.

The study found that 49% of Canadian workers are seriously considering leaving their job due to a “significant disconnect between employers and employees.”

The good news is that the trucking industry is enjoying a robust recovery that no one saw coming last spring when our lives came screeching to a halt.

The bad news is it looks like the past eight months have taken a harsher toll on employees than employers.

(Illustration: istock)

Limited social interaction (personal and professional), increased workloads, and the lack of support are impacting our employees. It doesn’t help that annual raises, employee training and wellness have largely been put on hold.

The Hays study sums it best: “Covid has left everyone exhausted. While many businesses are improving, staff are waving a white flag.”

Something is amiss when half your workforce wants to jump overboard into such turbulent waters. My gut tells me that a lot of companies are so focused on staying afloat they “disconnected” from their employees and forgot to give them life jackets.

For many of us, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent everything about how we do our jobs and run our companies. Companies that are brave enough to take care of their employees like never before will be the inevitable winners.

It’s time to dust off the human resources white board and turn up the volume up on your fun factor and employee engagement.

Employee engagement

With cold weather and another wave of virus bearing down on us, Canadians are bracing for a long winter. Most people aren’t having a lot of fun these days so it’s important that the workplace helps to reduces stress.

In past columns I’ve talked about making sure remote employees have access to the technology they need and are allowed to use it to stay social. Zoom calls aren’t just for business. A Friday afternoon video happy hour can build community and camaraderie among work peers.

Mental health and addiction

Personally, this has been one of the most stressful times in my life as I try to balance family, health and work.

Unfortunately, lockdowns have done a poor job of slowing the spread of Covid and a great job of spreading the diseases of mental health and addiction. In many cities more people are dying from suicide and opiate overdoses than coronavirus.

It’s safe to assume that every company has employees who are silently struggling with mental health and addiction. Yet the Hays study reports that 54% of employers admitted they were doing nothing to assist their employees with their wellness or mental health challenges.

Be especially mindful of your female staffers. Women have had to take on more of the domestic burdens of childcare, home schooling, and elderly parents in addition to managing their jobs.

Pick up the phone

When it comes to connecting with employees, one of the best tactics I’ve heard from HR experts is also the simplest: pick up the phone.

People connect when they speak in a way that’s not possible with texting or email. You can’t “manage by walking around” when your office is shuttered, but you can make a phone call. Ditch the typing and start talking. Call employees at every level. Don’t ask what they’re doing. Ask how they’re doing.

Encourage your staff to do the same. Speaking with their peers will make them more connected with one another and happier in their jobs.

Talking on the phone is one of life’s simpler pleasures, and it’s more important than ever as we both isolate and stay in touch with those around us. It’s a seemingly impossible balance but we have to try.

Mike McCarron

Mike McCarron is the president of Left Lane Associates, a firm that creates total enterprise value for supply chain companies and their shareholders. He can be reached at mike@leftlaneassociates.ca, 416-551-6651, or @AceMcC on Twitter.

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  • Many people leave trucking because of lack respect. Many truck drivers feel that they are at higher risks this year. Some companies really try and our concerned for their own employees and leased ops. Until treatment and pay improve things many people will continue to do other things and more new truck drivers will be needed.