Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program: What we learned
August 25, 2018
August 25, 2018
Last year, the federal government reached out to industries that are heavy users of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). They want to better understand the specific industry challenges and identify possible program improvements.
For the trucking industry, which brought in more than 1,500 workers in the TFWP last year, the struggle to find drivers and other workers is anything but short-term. The shortage of drivers who are Canadian citizens has limited the growth of many fleets and has broader implications for Canada’s economy.
And, the TFWP can help. As such, the federal government partnered with us on a series of roundtables across the country – a chance for fleets that have been using the TFWP for years to provide their feedback. Others came out to learn more about the program and how it might help them.
The roundtables resulted in a report that has been submitted to the TFWP. We made recommendations for immediate consideration that can support more efficient access and use of the program.
They include an expedited vetting process for reputable and trusted employers; suggested enhancements to the application process to better reflect the realities of the industry, including compensation and job advertising; as well as several processing improvements to support unique aspects of our industry.
We’re now waiting for the government to hopefully move quickly with these recommendations. Until then, here are some things we learned during our roundtables from employers who are working hard to improve recruitment and retention:
Review your recruitment, hiring, and onboarding
Fleets have learned that they need to respond quickly, if not immediately, to all applicants. Review your recruiting and hiring procedures to make sure you can process an applicant’s information and initiate a dialog quickly.
And, be efficient. Getting just one driver is a big investment of time and resources, and many are leaving no stone unturned. Assess where you are getting the best results and work to focus your efforts accordingly.
But don’t rush the onboarding. Fleets that are investing more with onboarding and effective coaching are seeing higher retention rates.
Assess your “leaves”
One fleet executive said that a driver exit is now being treated “like a major accident.” Address your “leaves” and determine where you can improve. Another proactive approach has many fleets forming “driver experience committees” to improve communication and collaboration among drivers, managers, and others within the company.
Many fleets are going beyond reviewing driver pay rates to focus on total compensation and address work-life balance concerns. Does your compensation package reflect the needs of your drivers? You don’t want to hear that it doesn’t during an exit interview.
Challenging times require competent managers who can innovate, stay calm, and ensure the bigger picture is not lost. And this is particularly important for fleets looking to the TFWP for drivers.
The program presents an extra layer of compliance requirements, as well as the specific human resources needs of workers who are: 1) temporary and 2) from another country.
These challenges require competent managers who can innovate, adapt, and keep sight of the fact that the TFWP should be mutually beneficial for the company and the foreign worker coming to Canada.
The Government of Canada’s website (www.canada.ca) has more information about hiring a temporary worker through the TFWP, and we offer practical ideas about managing a diverse workforce at www.TruckingHR.com. Something to consider as we wait for action.