Generations needn’t be divided

by Bruce Richards

There has been a good deal written about the challenges that the trucking industry faces in attracting the next generation to its workforce.

It is a sustainability issue of paramount importance.

Considering the situation with drivers as an example, current industry research states that 46 is the average age of a driver, 26% are over 55, and that only 12% of that workforce is under the age of 30.

That important statistic was raised in the recent address by Angela Splinter and Tamara Miller during the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada conference. 

It set the stage nicely for a discussion on managing generational difference, which is a different take on the issue the industry has grappled with for years.

In addition to looking for innovative ways to attract young people to the wide variety of jobs that the trucking industry has to offer, we also need to pay more attention to how we retain, and get the most out of the younger generation that we already have in those seats, according to the analysis by Trucking HR Canada.

In their presentation, Splinter and Miller proposed that taking an HR approach to the issue can help improve both recruitment and retention when it comes to the next generation. The first step is to recognize that different generations have distinct attitudes, behaviours, and expectations, and each is motivated in distinctly different ways.

Drawing on content from Your Guide to Human Resources, Trucking HR Canada examined those differences as they present in four separate generations currently active in today’s workforce: they identify the four groups as veterans, baby boomers, Gen-X, and Gen-Y, all defined by age groups.

The analysis of the personality traits and approaches to work within each group is an eye-opener. 

Things that many of us take for granted vis-a-vis our approach to work, what we expect out of the work environment, and what we are willing to contribute are shaped in large part by age, and the differences between the four generations are remarkable. 

It appears that understanding each generation’s needs and approaches to the workplace, and how to deal with them, is a critical component of any successful HR recruitment and retention strategy.  

Those who choose to ignore these differences and manage by imposing their own value system on the workforce are likely to struggle in their efforts to successfully manage in a multi-generational environment. And by the way, most workplaces include at least several generations of employees.

Trucking HR’s Splinter and Miller suggest that those who arm themselves with a clear understanding of the differences that exist in the needs of the four generations, can apply that knowledge in four key areas: recruitment and retention; workplace culture; communications; and mentoring (transfer of knowledge).

Once again drawing on Your Guide to Human Resources,  recommendations include methodologies for dealing with each generation in each of these key subject areas, and they are markedly different. There is no one size fits all solution. 

This approach to the functions of recruitment and retention is fundamentally different from the traditional method used in the trucking industry – ie., pay more money. It addresses the deeper needs of different generations that go well beyond cash. 

Not that money is unimportant, but more and more we are realizing that money is not the single most important determinant for a job seeker.

The trucking industry is not unlike many others in that, although it can provide good jobs, good pay, and a good lifestyle, generally speaking it still struggles to attract new, younger workers.

The whys and wherefores of the problem have been endlessly debated and been the cause of much angst for years. 

I can’t count the number of forums that I have participated in where the question of how to attract young people to trucking simply reiterated the same points and complaints over and over again, without adding any new ideas to the discussion.

Trucking HR Canada has a suite of tools and resources available and they are certainly worth your consideration.

My suggestion? Reach out to Trucking HR Canada and see what they have to offer. 

It’s time for a new approach. You can find them at or 613-244-4800.

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