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A Sobering Look in the Mirror

A recent business study surveyed 1500 transportation managers in North America on workplace issues. The survey attempted to assess the attitude, motivation and desires of managers when it came to their overall satisfaction and work-life balance in...


A recent business study surveyed 1500 transportation managers in North America on workplace issues. The survey attempted to assess the attitude, motivation and desires of managers when it came to their overall satisfaction and work-life balance in the industry.

The findings were not surprising. They revealed the following:

1 in 3 managers works equivalent to a 7-day work week

56% claimed to have missed family commitments due to work pressures, 34% having no energy after work in the evenings; 29% spending the weekend to recover.

33% felt their company encourages “an authoritarian culture”; 25% of respondents felt exploited; 32% believed the company had no real direction or commitment to change.

59% of managers felt they needed to have a “sense of purpose in their company in order to perform effectively”.

The net of this survey revealed that emotional energy levels in the transportation sector are dangerously low. Although employees in the industry are not afraid of hard work to get the job done, if the end result of the effort put in leaves employees feeling less than satisfied week after week, burnout is inevitable.

To understand why the transportation sector is lagging when it comes to fostering healthy, progressive workplace environments we have to look at the cultures which have been created. Much of the transportation sector grew in Canada with less strategic planning, operational planning, and human resource planning compared to other industry sectors. Deregulation, free trade and technological advances all contributed to the need for improved processes, customer relationship management and cost control. The transportation industry has made notable improvements over the past 20 years, however, it still needs to ask itself where it is in relation to other industry sector “best practices” when it comes to workplace environment.

A corporate culture is uniquely defined based on the management, the vision and the will of its leaders. What the industry might want to take notice of is what motivates employees in the workplace, especially the up and coming generation.

In order for the leadership of the transportation industry to evolve progressively it needs to gain a perspective on the issues at hand between management and employees. Companies can begin by conducting a scorecarded evaluation on their people. Here are some topics worth considering in evaluating all employees, including management.

A. Performance – Do you as an individual contribute to the best of your ability on a continuous basis and are you proud of what your company does and how it does it?

B. Cost Control Efficiency – How well do I strive to work in a cost efficient manner? Do I strive to work harder and make fewer errors? Do I encourage others and set an example for myself?

C. Attitude – How positive of an attitude do I try to foster with myself, as well as others? Am I considerate and do I take the perspective of helping others to do better, even if it does not directly affect me?

D. Responsibility – How much responsibility do I own in my job day in and day out? And do I take responsibility and accept challenges when they arrive? How much of a willing participant am I?

E. Creativity – How much of my time do I take to come up with better ways of performing my work and sharing that feedback with my company in order to improve the future of the organization?

F. Problem Solving – How well do I anticipate problem situations and try to avoid them? Do I know how to provoke the change necessary so the company can learn from mistakes being made?

G. Corporate Image – How do I attempt to improve the overall image of myself to better the workplace I am a part of?

If management and employees rate themselves on these core areas it will be easy to see where the gaps are and what you should focus on improving. The percentage of budgets spent on training and development of people in Canada, especially in the transportation sector, are incredibly low compared to the US and Europe. However, if you start from the point of the most needed change, you will begin to make the right changes necessary to start the process. Focusing on these key areas one step at a time is a best practice model worth following.

Understanding the right leadership style and promoting a workplace culture that is healthy and progressive for both employer and employees is difficult but the rewards can be great. It takes a lot of energy, both monetarily and psychologically to shift your workplace environment to something improved and optimal but in the end the rewards can definitely be great.

Pamela Ruebusch is Senior Partner, TSI Group (www.tsigroup.com), one of Canada’s leading recruitment, training and development firms in supply chain management.


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