Human resources practices play a key role in safety programs
May 1, 2013
Attracting and retaining qualified employees can be a challenge at the best of times, and there is little hope the situation will improve anytime soon. A recent study by the Conference Board of Canada concludes our industry might be short more...
Attracting and retaining qualified employees can be a challenge at the best of times, and there is little hope the situation will improve anytime soon. A recent study by the Conference Board of Canada concludes our industry might be short more than 33,000 truck drivers as early as 2020, while other reports suggest individual fleets already struggle to fill job openings. As the average age of a truck driver continues to rise, leaving employers to fill the vacancies created by an increasing number of retirements, fleets also face ever more competition for the next generation of workers as other business sectors scramble to address personnel shortages of their own.
This is hardly welcome news for the industry’s managers. It costs between $6,000 and $10,000 to recruit and retain a new truck driver, and this is on top of the business opportunities lost because of a lack of workers. To compound matters, those who fill any gaps with high-risk drivers face an increased threat of collisions and lost customers alike.
Human resources practices obviously have a role to play in any broader safety and operational plans. That’s why Northbridge Insurance safety specialists tap into a broad library of information when helping customers to develop solutions.
Some of the related support comes in the form of material from Trucking HR Canada – officially launched this month to focus on the human resources needs in Canada’s trucking and logistics sectors. The initiative is supported by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, Glacier Business Information Group (the publishers of this magazine), and Newcom Business Media. And in addition to identifying broader issues and trends, the group will offer a national forum for sharing best practices, while helping to promote career paths in the trucking industry.
For its part, Northbridge Insurance has helped pilot a new self-guided tool known as the HR Circle Check, which will soon be available at www.truckingHR.com, giving fleet managers a way to assess their specific human resources needs and find ways to address any gaps in related company policies and procedures. And we’ve arranged for many clients to attend Trucking HR Canada’s workshops for industry managers.
Existing materials, originally developed through the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council, have already proven to be valuable when developing broader safety strategies that include:
The recruiting process: Advertising for qualified drivers is just one step in the process that includes attracting, evaluating, selecting, hiring and retaining personnel. Support is available through checklists and customizable forms in Your Guide to Human Resources: Volume 1.
Immigrants and Temporary Foreign Workers: Immigrants already account for one in every five job seekers, and some fleets are turning to internationally trained workers to fill severe shortages of long-haul truck drivers. But a welcoming workplace is needed to attract newcomers to jobs in Canada’s trucking industry. Supporting information can come in the form of Your Guide to Human Resources: Volume 2, complete with an orientation guide to offer job candidates an overview of the industry, fact sheets to highlight steps in the immigration process, and an online portal that will inform immigrants and the agencies which help them make a smooth transition into Canada.
A focus on different generations: Have you ever wondered if younger workers are speaking a different language? They are. At the very least, they communicate in different ways than their more experienced counterparts. Information in Your Guide to Human Resources: Volume 3 shows how to manage different generations of people in the same workplace, and address succession planning.
Training for coaches, mentors and assessors: Personnel who are asked to coach newly trained drivers, mentor experienced drivers, or assess any job candidates require training of their own. Each can play a role in helping to prevent driver turnover.
Every one of Trucking HR Canada’s training tools is based on formal National Occupational Standards, which clearly define all of the tasks and skills behind an array of trucking-related jobs. The standards themselves can be a valuable resource for fleets looking to enhance job descriptions, steer training programs, assess hiring guidelines, or guide performance reviews. It is all help that can be particularly welcome to smaller fleets which may not have the benefit of a full-time human resources team, pulling managers away from decisions made on gut instinct alone. Combined with the focus of a broader safety program, they can make the difference between informed decisions and the costly mistakes which will haunt a fleet for years to come.
– This month’s expert is Matt Graveline, senior risk services consultant with Northbridge Insurance. Matt has more than 20 years’ experience in the trucking industry as both a long-haul driver and an owner/operator. Northbridge Insurance is a leading Canadian commercial insurer built on the strength of four companies with a long standing history in the marketplace and has been serving the trucking industry for more than 60 years. You can visit them at www.nbins.com.